Surprisingly Good: The cafeteria food at UH Hilo

Cafeteria food that is surprisingly good. You heard that right!

Buried deep within the confines of the Big Island’s favorite 4 year university lies a hidden gem of an eatery – the Sodexo dining center. Despite the puzzled looks on the faces of those I tell this, I stand by my statement.

And I can back it with at least 5 things:

1. The Food

Let’s cut right to it, shall we – here are 6 dishes I ate in a row:


Just look at these options! I don’t even know where you could get seafood gumbo from. All smugness aside, the food quality is very above average, and there are a lot of local favorites. The crispy pork was the perfect density, and the chicken katsu had that golden crunch. It’s at least on the level of a good plate lunch place, and the portions will fill you up.

2. The price

Current market trends put local plate lunch prices around ~$11.49. However, the food here is priced for the likes of impoverished university students and starving PhD candidates. Each plate comes with two sides and a mediumish drink for less than $10 – excluding specialty dishes.

3. It’s super quick

Students, professors, and professional staff don’t have the time to dilly dally in breadlines; you can expect to get your food in like 5 minutes or less.

4. The place is clean, and never completely full

The entire cafeteria area was renovated in 2016, so it looks like a hip, modern place. They’ve kept it in immaculate condition since then, and it’s air conditioned. However, they designed the place way bigger than needed so there are always entire tables open for you to eat alone – if that’s your thing.

5.  The checkout ladies are super nice

The wonderful aunties who ring you up at the end of the cafeteria make it their life’s mission to improve the morale of every student that makes a purchase.

Bonus: Their logo is fun

I mean just look at it:

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There are so many questions: Why is the guy balancing on one foot? Is this waitstaff or a student? Also he has three fingers. Why the glass of wine? I think it’s best if we can just appreciate the type of establishment would put out a fun logo like this.


It cost $3 to park anywhere on campus, and you might look suspicious if you go every day – but it’s worth visiting. If you’re ever on campus between the hours of 9am and 4pm, do yourself a favor and go into the cafeteria and treat yourself to a surprisingly good meal on the cheap.

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