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A new school year brings early morning lectures and late-night study sessions, and a full stomach is key to success. Here are 10 of the tastiest grub options found on campus that satisfy cravings and sustain the most avid students.

1. Chick-fil-A: Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich

No one does pickles on a chicken sandwich quite like Chick-fil-A. Packing in 28 grams of protein, the long line in Downing Student Union are worth the wait.

Honorable mention: Chick-fil-A waffle potato fries

This potassium filled side item rounds out the meal that is closest to perfection at WKU, said Savannah Rippy, a sophomore from White House, Tennessee. She was up in the air about which item is number one, the chicken sandwich or the waffle fries, before deciding on the fries.

Order the meal with extra Chick-fil-A Sauce and you’ve got the campus meal to beat — or eat.

2. Einstein Bros. Bagels: the farmhouse

A new menu item, the farmhouse features egg, bacon, ham, cheddar cheese and a country gravy schmear piled on top of a cheesy hash brown gourmet bagel. While not quite the bestseller, Katona Dixon, a five-year employee of Einstein Bros. Bagels, said the word is spreading fast.

“The farmhouse is a close second [behind the bacon, egg and cheese] and we haven’t had it that long,” Dixon said. 

She said she recommends grabbing a mango-orange smoothie to wash it down, making the long line at the restaurant located in Jody Richards Hall worth it.

Honorable mention: the nova lox 

Molded for the mature taste buds, the nova lox is composed of thinly sliced salmon that’s been brined and then cold smoked. Topped with tomato, red onions, capers and a creamy onion and chive spread, this sandwich is a real crowd-pleaser.

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3. DaVinci’s: tomato basil soup

Rich and savory, this soup is the hidden gem of Snell Hall. Pair it with a salad or order a bowl solo. The vitamin and antioxidant-rich powerhouse with just a hint of spice is the most memorable DaVinci’s menu item.

Honorable mention: buffalo chicken pizza 

Word on the street is that this pizza gives the most reputable wing joints a run for their money. Mason Wade, a sophomore from Glasgow, said this pizza order is the meal to beat. 

“It’s got a lot of flavor to it,” Wade said. “It’s something different.”

Between the soup and pizza, DaVinci’s stays winning.

4. Papa John’s: cheese pizza 

Papa John’s isn’t a national household name for nothing. It’s good pizza, and a plain cheese slice is a classic.

Honorable mention: garlic butter 

Purchase extra with your order; pour it on every edible item you find, and enjoy.

5. Panda Express: The Original Orange Chicken

This may be the single most-ordered item at WKU’s Panda Express location, even though it is not applicable for a meal swipe. Battered, fried and tossed in a spicy citrus sauce, this chicken manages to remain crispy and pairs well with white or fried rice.

Honorable mention: cream cheese rangoon 

These wonton wrappers are simply filled with cream cheese. Despite the fact that, unlike Crab Rangoon, these don’t have crab in them, they are the bomb. Don’t forget the sweet and sour sauce for all of your dipping pleasures.

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6. Steak ‘n Shake: Frisco Melt

This is not an average burger, though it may appear that way upon first glance. It’s topped with a fresco sauce, Swiss and American cheese; however, the sourdough toast is what sets this item apart from other campus burger options. 

Honorable mention: Specialty Shake

This Nutella flavored shake is perfect for dessert after devouring the Frisco Melt.

7. Starbucks: Perfect Bar

Sold in an assortment of flavors, these on-the-go meal options are located in the refrigerated section and should not be overlooked. Perfect Bar’s website boasts that the bar provides whole food protein, 20 plus superfoods and is always non-GMO. These peanut buttery protein bars are filling and quick to eat. The limited-edition pumpkin pie flavor keeps it basic and next level in the same bite.  

Honorable mention: Vanilla Bean Frappuccino

While vanilla is good, vanilla bean ranks supreme and is a must try item.

8. Chili’s: Triple Dipper 

This appetizer allows customers to choose three starters with their preferred dipping sauces. Options include sliders, wings (both boneless and traditional), Southwest eggrolls, fried pickles and cheddar bites. The variety and portion sizes take this appetizer from good to stellar. Sharing is caring, and a bill split is a precious flex dollar saved.

Honorable mention: The Boss Burger 

With smoked brisket, rib meat and jalapeno cheddar smoked sausage, your protein requirements have been met, and perhaps exceeded. 

9. OLILO by Cat Cora: falafel bowl

Marketed toward wellness and sustainability, the Mediterranean-style restaurant located in the Garrett Food Court has a build-your-own dish concept. They have various toppings, including fresh cucumber and tomato salad, feta cheese, hummus and tahini dressing that can be added to a greens-and-grains bowl.

Lauren Tashjian, a junior from Paducah, likes OLILO as a healthier on-campus lunch.

“Everything else is fried,” Tashjian said. “It’s good, but it’s fried.”

OLILO’s bowls are respectable for both their nutritional value and their taste, and the chickpea patties are the protein option of choice for Tashjian.

Honorable mention: salmon 

It isn’t offered regularly and comes with an upcharge, but the fish packed with omega-3 is second best to the falafel.

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10. THE DEN by Denny’s: Original Grand Slam 

With two eggs, sausage, bacon and a stack of buttermilk pancakes, this breakfast platter is as well-rounded as they come. It’s savory and sweet, which gives you the perfect excuse to dip your pork in syrup while indulging in this platter. 

Honorable mention: maple bacon shake 

With vanilla ice cream, maple syrup and hickory smoked bacon, ordering this is a no brainer.

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