How to Hack Dining at UPenn

By Fred Chang - NextGenVest Director - UPenn

It’s not surprising that every person over the age of 25 will tell you that college will be the best experience of your life, because it is! The people you meet will be the most interesting, the classes you take will be the most engaging, and the activities you do will be the most enjoyable. The only thing that isn’t so great is the dining plan at Penn.

What plan did you choose? The most swipes, most dining dollars, or maybe you didn’t even realize there was a deadline, so you got the default plan? You probably don’t even realize it, but the amount of dining dollars you get is pretty minimal – even if you choose the one with the most.

This is a serious problem for us freshmen because we all know the temptation is there: Frontera right on Locust Walk. It’s so easy to get to and they take dining dollars. It’s no wonder every Penn Freshman is acting like this:

But do you realize how much you’re actually spending? Getting a bowl, chips & guac, and then a drink can pile up to ~$12 for this opulent meal! Assuming you have the plan with the most dining dollars, do you know how much you’re given per semester?


If you roughly calculate a budget, that comes out to $4 a day (and 1 meal swipe a day). A full meal at Frontera is costing you 300% of your daily budget.

That’s right Jennifer Lawrence. It’s scary and unfortunate that Penn is depriving us of good Mexican food! It’s not all that bad, though. There are places to dine on the cheap. One place specifically is a popular place among Penn dining connoisseurs: Bridge Café.

Surprisingly, many College, Engineering, and Nursing students don’t know of the $4.50 omelette tucked away in Huntsman Hall. The omelettes are known to be filling and cheap - with a fixed price for any amount of fix-ins you’d like. Next time you’re looking for a lunch, but don’t want to spend like a high roller, head to Huntsman Hall. I know what you’re thinking, though. Everyone knows about Bridge Café so the lines are oppressively long especially at lunch.

Well if you’re diligent enough to still be reading I’m going to share with you a secret that I guarantee most of you don’t know about.

Did you know that there is an exact replica of Bridge Café hidden away on the second floor of Huntsman Hall? It’s called the MBA Café, located right outside Koo Plaza. Surprisingly, Wharton students who spend hours in the building each day aren’t even aware of its existence. It’s a really easy way to get past the line at Bridge Café. Take the extra two minutes to walk up to the MBA Café, order your omelette, and be out of there before you’d move two places in line at Bridge.

For all non-Wharton students: don’t be intimidated to go into Huntsman Hall just because it’s the Wharton building. Your dining purse is counting on it. Just be sure to keep this between us.

Want to help other students with insider tips? Email articles@nextgenvest.com with your name and school.