On a recent visit to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to visit Franklin and Marshall College, I discovered a great new tool to help me find where to eat in a college town.
I’m here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, not too far from the campus of Franklin and Marshall College, a small liberal arts college, and one of the things about recommending colleges in small towns for some students is that they say, “Oh, well I like ethnic restaurants. I really want to be able to have really great ethnic cuisine.” So I know when I go to a small town like Lancaster, well I did a quick search on Yelp when I was here just to find a place to go to lunch and I thought Ethiopian, of course Mexican and Italian, but I also always look for Asian restaurants because I work with so many Chinese families and I came across this place called Rice and Noodles, which is a noodle shop, a Vietnamese noodle shop.
Apparently a family came here from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and set up shop here. This is a fantastic, probably the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had. It has really great soup but two things. Don’t assume that you’re not going to find really good ethnic cuisine in a smaller town because the United States is pretty global. Secondly, if you’re a student from China, you need to do a little bit of homework in terms of what kinds of restaurants would be available. Yelp is a great site. It will tell you exactly how far from the campus a particular kind of cuisine may be.
So if you’re really thinking about a small town or a liberal arts college or something and you’re thinking, “I don’t know if I can really make this work because of my culinary habits,” Yelp, or what are the other social networking sites where you can find out exactly what is offered and exactly how far it is from campus. So don’t make assumptions about small towns. Some of them are extremely international.