A guide to navigating dietary restrictions on campus

Emma Stoffel

Here at Washington and Lee, students frequent a max of four places to eat on campus: Café 77, E-Café, Fieldside and the Market Place. With only four places to eat on campus, the variety of food is quite slim, and if you have dietary restrictions, life can be a little tough. Personally, I cannot eat dairy and have found that the food here, while not super accommodating, can be manageable if you figure out the ropes. I’ve compiled a list of suggestions for your next meal if you are dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, or just want to be a little healthier the next time you are craving a sunrise sandwich. 

Café 77 (just kidding, we all call it Coop): This place is pretty easy to navigate considering it is mostly fried food and sandwiches. It can just get boring if eaten three times a day. 

Dairy-Free: Unfortunately, some of the fan favorites – the sunrise sandwich, mozzarella sticks and loaded fries – are a no-go for those of us who are dairy-free. However, my go-to late Coop order is either the waffle fries (praise be) or the chicken tenders (unless you’re a vegan) with almost every sauce Coop has available. I also will mix sauces sometimes and make my own creation to spice up an everyday Coop meal. Try mixing BBQ sauce, honey mustard and mayo together to make a knockoff Chick-fil-A sauce. 

Vegan/Vegetarian: If you are vegan, I do not believe any food items would be considered vegan after being fried. The Coop fryer is used for meat and the oil is not switched out between food items. Therefore, if you’re vegan, stick to the veggie sushi, fruit and avocado toast instead of anything from the fried menu. Coop and meat  are closely linked, so being a vegetarian will have you missing out on major ticket items, unless you ask for your order with no meat. If you want loaded fries, make sure to ask for no bacon, and if you want a sunrise, you can ask for no meat. If neither of those things sound good to you, the black bean burger with your favorite sauce, lettuce and tomato is a great option for some protein. 

Gluten-Free: I was told by a student who is gluten-free to avoid Coop if you have celiac disease or do not want to eat gluten. Coop employees might not change gloves after handling foods with gluten in them, so proceed with caution on this one. However, you can always enjoy the sushi, fruit and salads which are of course gluten-free. 

E-Cafe at Hillel House: E-Cafe is my favorite place to eat on campus because the employees are always super accommodating, and the food is good. Also, fun fact: you can get any sandwich on an English muffin if your heart so desires; you just have to ask the employees for one. So if you’re ever feeling “carb-ed out” from the bagels, try getting an English muffin the next time you are there, which has much less carbohydrates. 

Dairy-Free: Dairy-free here is kind of sad because you cannot enjoy a lot of the sandwiches on the menu, including all the cream cheese spreads, but you can ask for anything with no cheese. Hillel actually has a button for no cheese now, probably because I go there so often and have asked for no cheese so many times they got tired of having to write it in. Regardless, my favorite thing to get at E-Cafe is the tuna melt (with no cheese) on an English muffin because it keeps me full and tastes pretty good. The strawberry mozzarella salad (with no cheese) and the Tree Frog smoothie with juice are also both great options. 

Vegan/Vegetarian: If you are vegan, it might be hard to find lunch that will keep you full at E-Cafe, but there are still great options there. I would recommend going on a Monday when they have their vegetable soup, which is made fresh every morning. You can get the soup with a plain bagel, or a bagel with avocado spread to keep you full. Of course, you can also get a smoothie with juice, which is a fan favorite. E-Cafe is kosher, so eating vegetarian here is not too hard. Vegetarian fan favorites I have heard from here are the General’s grilled cheese and the margherita pizza. If you are a pescatarian, the world is your oyster (no pun intended) at E-Cafe, so enjoy anything you like. I would highly recommend getting the vegan sausage patty on your bagel, egg, and cheese sandwich the next time you visit E-Cafe. My sister is a vegetarian, so I have had my fair share of “fake sausage” as my family calls it, and this is one of the best I’ve ever had. 

Gluten-Free: I think the most important thing to mention here is that E-Cafe has gluten-free bagels for people who cannot have gluten. This came as a complete shock to me because I had no idea about this gluten-free bagel, but next time you go to Hillel make sure to ask for it and enjoy any of the sandwich options. 

Fieldside: Fieldside is always changing its menu on the food side, so I will talk about options for the current Foodside concept, Meze Feta. Third-year dining is a great place to eat on campus because the restaurant is super accommodating and you can tailor orders to your specific preferences, which alleviates a lot of confusion and possible mishaps. 

Dairy-Free: Fieldside is not too bad for dairy-free people, you just cannot have some of the sauces and the like. Just make sure you know which ones you can and cannot have. My favorite dressing to put on my salads I make at Foodside is currently the fig balsamic. I also really like getting the oven-roasted turkey and brie sandwich with no cheese, and the sandwich is still really good without the cheese. 

Vegan/Vegetarian: If you are vegan and/or vegetarian, you must go to Foodside and get the falafel. Falafel is a mash of chickpeas and spices made into a little round ball and deep fried to perfection. Not only are you getting good protein, it tastes so good, especially if you eat it with the hummus. On the other hand, if you are looking for a good sandwich, the PBB sandwich is a great option. If you are not in the mood for that and want something savory, ask for a sandwich with no meat (or no cheese if vegan) and get avocado instead. That is a great way to still have a delicious sandwich and get a good source of protein. 

Gluten-Free: I was told that for gluten-free people, Fieldside is the place to be because of the cauliflower crust that is served there. If you are looking for a good sandwich, get the pimento grilled cheese on the cauliflower crust and your stomach will thank you later. Even if you are not gluten-free, this is a great option for if you are in the mood for a grilled cheese but don’t want to eat all the bread. 

The Marketplace: I saved this place for last because this is the most accommodating venue out of all the places to eat at Washington and Lee. The cafeteria is literally separated by food group depending on your dietary needs. D-hall’s menu changes from day-to-day, so I have recommended some of the staples that you cannot go wrong with. 

Dairy-Free: When I can’t find anything I like at D-hall, my favorite thing to get is chicken salad on Ezekiel bread with tomato. I get it grilled and it tastes really good because the Ezekiel bread grills really nicely. If you are looking for a good sandwich bread in general, definitely try the Ezekiel bread; it’s actually gluten-free, low-carb and really delicious. 

Vegan/Vegetarian: If you are looking to spice up your dinner with something besides the beans and french fries, ask for pita at the sandwich bar. You can heat the pita up in the microwave and eat it with hummus and some veggies for a healthy and hardy meal. If you get a salad, make sure to add some sesame sticks, located by the soups. So many people do not know about them, but they taste delicious. 

Gluten-Free: Aside from the awesome Ezekiel bread, there are a lot of gluten-free options at D-hall. The one thing that I have to mention are the little bags of gluten-free cookies in the cupboard of the gluten-free section. They come in snickerdoodle and gingerbread flavors and are super delicious. A lot of students cannot have the desserts that D-hall provides, so those cookies are a good way to get your sweets fix. They are also vegan, so they are accommodating to all kinds of dietary restrictions, and they taste really good, which is a surprising bonus.