As an incoming student, it usually takes a while to get a feel for which dining hall best suits your needs. While some people adopt a favorite dining hall after only a few months of living on campus, most come to realize that each one has its strengths and its weaknesses. Exploring your dining options is an essential part of the freshman experience, but if you’re looking for a few helpful hints before you start, keep these picks in mind.

Best breakfast: College-in-the-Woods Dining Hall (CIW)

The CIW dining hall is the only dining hall to open at 7 a.m. on weekdays, making it a great option for students with 8 a.m. classes. The crown jewel of the CIW breakfast spread is the omelette bar, which allows diners to order omelettes with customized combinations of meats, cheeses and vegetables. The hall also offers staples like pancakes, hash browns, cereals, bagels, potatoes and scrambled eggs every day of the week.

Best salad bar: Appalachian Collegiate Center

Each salad bar has its own strength, depending on what you’re looking for. CIW offers a multitude of fruits, which usually includes fresh mango, strawberries and raspberries, and Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center (C4) has the best variety of legumes and grains. Appalachian’s salad bar, however, is nearly twice as big as its counterparts, and if you’re looking for general variety, there’s no better option. The bar is located in the center of the food-purchasing area and it’s stocked with a variety of meats, cheeses, fruits, sliced vegetables, nuts, pre-made vegetable mixes and more.

Best pizza: Hinman Dining Hall

Many Binghamton University students hail from the five boroughs of New York City or Long Island, and one of the hardest adjustments for these students is learning to live without downstate New York pizza. While Hinman Dining Hall’s pizza station is probably no match for your favorite local spot, it’s the closest thing you can hope to get on campus. Most pizza stations on campus offer a rotating variety of flavors like chicken, vegetable, garlic knot or macaroni and cheese, and Hinman is no exception. The main feature that sets this dining hall apart is its dedication to warm pizza. When you ask for a slice, it’s heated in the oven right before you take it, whereas other dining halls just leave the pizzas out on the counter.

Best options for restricted diets: CIW and C4

CIW’s vegan station offers creative entrees like stuffed mushrooms, bean soups, vegetable club sandwiches and quinoa salads, while C4’s kosher station provides hot meals for lunch and dinner each day, and the C4 fridge usually stocks kosher wraps too. Students with other dietary restrictions like gluten, lactose or nut intolerances can contact campus nutritionists for consultations that will help them make the most of the food available on campus.

Best atmosphere: Appalachian Collegiate Center

Appalachian is the most elevated dining hall on campus, so naturally it offers the best view of campus and the surrounding mountains. The hall’s dining area is paneled with huge glass windows, and seats with a view are coveted. It gets pretty packed around dinner time, but there is plenty of seating space to accommodate the crowds. Even if you don’t get a seat by the windows, the natural light, high ceilings and spaciousness alone are pleasant enough.

Best spot for a late-night snack: C4

C4’s Nite Owl hours are a lifesaver if you need a snack after studying or partying into the wee hours of the morning. Nite Owl offers greasy comfort foods like burgers, chicken fingers, fries, mozzarella sticks and milkshakes. Fruit, granola bars, candy, do-it-yourself sandwiches and baked goods left over from the day are also usually available. The expeditions station usually serves grilled cheese, quesadillas or wings during these hours. There are two separate dining rooms attached to the food-purchasing area, so you’re guaranteed to find a spot at any hour of the night.

After your first few weeks on campus, trips to the resident dining halls will become part of your routine, and you might even grow fond of some of the foods that are offered here. Keeping these suggestions in mind will help you make the most of your dining dollars. The food at BU probably won’t compare to your favorite home-cooked meals, but it’s not half as bad as you would expect.