Student eating doesn’t have to be all pot noodles and takeaway chips and cheese. Oxford, a culinary gem for all walks of life, hosts a variety of attractive student options. I’m a sucker for hot drinks loyalty cards, which do frequent the Oxford establishments (yay!) – but there are lots of student options, superfluous to these and even to the famed Itsu half price sale, worth knowing about. Here are some suggestions for student-friendly places to eat – both for when you’re sticking to your budget, and for those occasional splurges.
In no particular order…
1 – Java & Co.Based both in Abingdon and the heart of Oxford, Java & Co. is the epitome of a student eatery. They don’t mess around with intricacies here – expect sausage baps, ample pies, panini and above all an excellent range of hot drinks and cakes. If you’re in need of fast, good and not overly pricy food, this is your place. Impressively, not only do they have a loyalty card, they also offer a 10% student discount and furthermore, if you sign up to their VIP club, you will be frequented with emails offering you free croissants and the like. Joy!
2 – Taylor’s/Fasta PastaSlightly further out from the centre, although they have multiple establishments, Taylor’s is an Oxford gem. Selling plentiful options of healthy food, you could go everyday for months without repeating your lunch choice! Their sweet things are also excellent, but I rate their soup above all else. The largest Taylor’s is on St. Giles and a handy location for Oxford University students with lectures until lunch. There’s also one near the train and bus stations, making it the perfect spot to pop in to for a bite on your way home.
3 – The NosebagYes, it’s fairly expensive (I can feel my maintenance loan shuddering) but The Nosebag is the perfect place to hit when you’re sick of Tesco basics pasta. Home cooked, handcrafted meals are at the heart of this cosy eatery, and just sitting high up away from the world of essays and exams is enough to remind you of home. The portion sizes are vast, though, so your pennies are not wasted in the least. Go for lunch and opt for one of the hot meals that come with three salads, and you probably won’t find yourself in need of dinner. The Nosebag provides brief respite from being a student.
4 – Noodle NationEssentially serving a glorified variety of pot noodles, Noodle Nation is an excellent establishment to not take your parents to. The food isn’t great, but the student bustle and portion sizes definitely are. I once went here on a date. Don’t go here on a date. Do go here if you’re hungry and want to spend about £6 on a vast quantity of carbs and stuff on carbs. You can also colour in your menu while you wait, which may seem a trivial plus-point, but believe me, on an awful first date it’s the difference between staying and walking out. It’s a bit like a down- market Wagamama, but you pay a lot less and get a lot more, and with a 15% student discount.
5 – Door 74An inconspicuous Cowley Road cutie, located very close to the Magdalen roundabout. The food is truly excellent – heart-warming, even. The atmosphere is like a cosy hug. The best bit, though, is the totally achievable prices. Clearly not an everyday dinner spot, Door 74 is ideal for a treat out, a date or even a leisurely weekend brunch with friends. It’s also totally somewhere you could take your parents, but worth stretching your budget a bit for regardless.
6 – The Tick-Tock CaféAn excellent option for a portable hung-over breakfast, the Tick Tock café is just by the Magdalen roundabout. The food is cheap and plentiful, principally consisting of fried things in baguettes. Their breakfast selection – bacon, eggs, sausages etc., in baps – is exquisite. Having said this, their cake options are also fabulous – being both generous in size and diversity. You could easily pop in here for a quick cup of tea and snack, just as much as an essay-break or on-the-go dinner. The staff are also super-chirpy, which is enough to stimulate a smile however looming your essay deadline is!
7 – Gino’s Spaghetti HouseAlthough perhaps not the most glamorous of foodie joints in the centre, Gino’s has a charm that cannot be denied. It’s decorated like a traditional Italian restaurant and stepping inside, you’ll be dreaming of Sicilian ruins and Tuscan olive groves…. The portions are hearty and true Italian grub. Authenticity is key here. In general the food is all very affordable, but the set menu on weekdays – £9.00 for pasta/pizza, a salad and a drink – is an excellent incentive to pay a visit.
8 – OxforkAlthough a fair trek out of town if situated in the centre, is tucked away in the heart of student hub, Cowley. It’s worth the walk, wherever you are. The interior is super-cute and mismatching teapots and teacups are sure to make you feel instantly at home. Their food is amazing, and the sizes of their cakes in particular are perfect for filling up hungry students. I would particularly recommend their brownies, which are sublime and will keep you going for days.
Rosie Shennan is a Geography student and choral scholar at Oxford University. In her spare time she adores food and travel, publishing daily on her blog – asconeatatime.wordpress.com – or on Instagram @a_scone_atatime. Rosie’s life revolves principally around cooking and eating. She writes restaurant reviews and a recipe column in the Oxford Student Newspaper and has written for the Daily Telegraph. You can probably find Rosie in one of Oxford’s many fabulous eateries, downing a pot of tea or munching on a scone…