The Best Cheap Eats Around UT
College is expensive -- like, really expensive -- which is why the stereotype of 10-cent-ramen-scarfing students still persists to this day. But what if you want cheap food that doesn’t contain 4 million grams of sodium? Let’s put the obvious chains aside for now (Tacodeli, Torchy’s, P. Terry’s, Chick-fil-A), and not even get into how many of you are inexplicably consuming Raising Cane's (WHY?!). We’re going to focus on food made from scratch, by humans, with love, and available on the cheap!
Students in need of affordable sustenance and caffeine should visit the very authentic Taco Joint (two doors down from Posse East) and order the “UT-Cup it” combo. Bring your own coffee cup from home, and for just $4.50, you get two breakfast tacos and free coffee. Taco Joint is popular for reasons other than its prices. The flour tortillas are made in-house, and there's a salsa bar with freshly made options like habanero, creamy avocado, and creamy chipotle.
Order the combination rice plate (lamb and chicken): freshly made rice, tender, seasoned meat drizzled with both their creamy and hot sauces, and a side salad for good measure. The portion is enormous, so you’ll have enough food for two meals; that’s two meals for $7.49. (Just don’t put the foil container in the microwave... you know better than that.)
At Don Japanese, the namesake dish, The Don, is the most popular, a great value, and just plain good. Pick between fried chicken or pork katsu served over either salad or rice and topped with seaweed and savory/sweet sauce for $5. Oh, and always add the onsen egg.
Located in the food truck park behind the UT Co-op, Song La makes really great authentic Taiwanese food. Although everything on the menu is worth trying, we love the value of the Pork Belly Bun ($7). They come two per order, and owners Shirley and Paul are very generous with the portions. Thick, juicy pork belly, steamed bun, pickled veggies, fresh cilantro, and chopped peanuts make this a must for students who want great food, cheap.
The tiny restaurant -- named in homage to owner Ken Gambone‘s mother Mary -- has everything a student (or non-student) could possibly crave. Breakfast is served all day. We recommend ordering any of the HUGE whole wheat wraps ($4.99 - $5.99) and sharing it with a friend. We’re really into the bacon, avocado, tomato, mayo, and fried egg wrap. Some of the shop’s specialties include the crispy and delicious liege waffles (smaller, crispier, and sweeter than a Belgian waffle), which are made to order ($4). You also have the option of adding whipped cream, chocolate chips, or fruit.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know that Via 313’s pizza is the best (and only Detroit-style) pizza in town. Lucky for campus residents, it recently opened a new location in the former Blackbird & Henry space across from Wheatsville Co-op. For just $11, you can get the Original Pepperoni; four thick, cheesy slices topped with smoked pepperoni that are perfect for sharing or saving for later.
Sure, it’s in the food court of the Dobie Center, and yes, the Dobie Center is kind of depressing. BUT what isn’t depressing is Burrito Factory’s food. Skip Qdoba and grab one of Burrito’s Factory’s burritos for $7.35, tortas aka Mexican sandwiches (we like the al pastor!) for $5.25, or quesadillas and street tacos for only $2.50.
East Side King has left Hole in the Wall, but was quickly replaced by Yatai from the same people who own Michi Ramen. They're serving Japanese street food at ridiculous prices. For example, you can pick three items for $8; choose from ginger wingettes, skewered black pepper steak, broccoli tempura, or curry panko-breaded potatoes among many other goodies. AND, you can get a cup of tonkatsu ramen for $3.95.
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