By: Megan Griffiths
I love food and I spend far too much money on it. While intellectually, I understand that it is cheaper and healthier to pack a meal from home, I admit that I am weak. I am easily seduced by seasonal coffees and fresh-baked goods. The siren sizzle of fried meats is so much more appealing than my lacklustre ham sandwiches. An Instagram-able salad is far superior to the wilted mess I’ve tried to dig out of a Tupperware container. Food is one of my easily justifiable indulgences.
For the past four semesters, the majority of my classes have been at the Harbour Centre campus. Interestingly, for the past four semesters I have consistently over-extended my food budget.
Instead of beating myself up about my lack of meal-planning and financial self-control, I have decided to reach a medium ground that marries my love of food with my dwindling budget. Most students have the deals on Burnaby campus down to a science; Vancouver campus is an entirely different beast. The easy route is to remain in the building and descend to the food court or Tim Hortons. That gets old extremely fast. However, once you venture outside you can easily be swept into Gastown, overpriced cafes, and long waits.
This is intended to be a list of suggestions for reasonably priced food within a walking distance of SFU Harbour Centre. Ideally, one would be spending less than $10 for any meal, and walking for less than five minutes to get to the establishment.
- Bon Chaz: 426 West Hastings Street
Walking time: 1:45
If you arrive before 10:17 a.m. precisely, with the purchase of a hot beverage you receive a complimentary specialty sweet bun. These are buttery and delicious and light — a perfect morning snack. I typically get a large americano before my 9:30 a.m. lecture, and am able to slowly wake up for less than $3! Take that, Starbucks.
This place is so great it gets you through lunch and dinner as well. Something like a soup or sandwich individually run for more than $5. This isn’t a terrible price, but it gets better! The deal allows you to get any two entrees for $9. I usually get a sandwich and a pasta dish, and that has the benefit of being two meals because the portions are decently sized. You can also select a soup or salad; it’s all great value. Start a rewards card with them and you can, over the course of the semester, earn free things!
- Bean Around the World: 175 West Hastings Street
Walking time: 3:15
If you have a bit more time to kill before a morning class, grab your coffee and a breakfast sandwich from here! The breakfast sandwiches are delicious, and only $4.25. A light lunch here won’t break the bank either.
Tip: if you go to this location, maybe cheat a little and skip a few doors down to Pure Bread and get a decadent pastry for later.
- Pholicious: 550 West Hastings Street
Walking time: depends on decisions involving jaywalking and crosswalks, but around 1:00
I cannot stress enough how convenient and cheap this place is. Almost every item on the menu is less than $10. For the price, the quality is not bad and I would definitely recommend this place before its ‘competition’ in the food court. The subs are packed with meat and cost less than $5. It is literally across the street from the main entrance to school. I’m not suggesting jaywalking, but the crosswalks are technically a detour because it’s that close.
- Goldies Pizza: 605 West Pender Street
Walking time: 2:05
While this is a great place to share some pizza as a sit-down meal, the ‘student-friendly’ feature is the walk-up window. For around $3 a slice you can get a variety of gourmet pizza. Fast, cheap, and delicious!
- The Rogue: 601 West Cordova Street
Walking time: about 1:00
3 p.m.–6 p.m. happy hour
OK, this one’s for when you want to treat yourself and not feel guilty when you look at your card statements! Happy hour at the Rogue has some great deals — almost all of the food menu comes in below $10, and it’s a great place if you’re feeling up to a light snack before or after a class. In addition, there are some very attractive deals on the drink menu. An added benefit for those students that come in on the train is that the Rogue is in Waterfront Station, so it’s extremely easy to find.
- Brioche Urban Eatery: 401 West Cordova Street
Walking time: 3:00
If you’re just scanning the menu, this place comes across as fancy. The pastas are homemade and over $15 a plate. Even I can’t justify that (most of the time). However, the discerning eye will notice that there are paninis on the menu. You can get a delicious panini for $9.75. It is absolutely huge! The bread is freshly-baked and the fillings are great quality. It’s also a nice place to study before they switch over to dinner, so take advantage of that every now and then!
- Kita no Donburi: 423 Seymour Street
Walking time: 1:15
I love Kita no Donburi. Sometimes all you want is a fully loaded rice bowl — and this place has them all. The best value is the Gyuu Don for just over $8.00. If you can snag a table, it’s a great environment to relax and have a quick meal. However, they also have to-go. There are some pricier things on the menu, but if you stick with the simple stuff you can definitely fill up for a decent price.
- Momo Sushi: 6-375 Water Street
This place gets BUSY, so be warned. It’s very popular with Gastown tourists. If you have the time, stay and eat there because it is a really interesting place! I like to take advantage of their lunch specials because you get some really good cuts of fish for $9.40. You can wait for take-out or, if you’re really wanting to capitalize on time, order it for pick up and enjoy your sushi back on campus.
- Nuba: 207 West Hastings Street
Dinner can get slightly pricey here, but the food is so good. As its slogan says, it’s “healthy, fresh Lebanese.” I recommend a light lunch if you want to keep it under that $10 mark. There are a lot of delicious vegetarian options for pitas, which start at $8, and the $6 soups are excellent on a rainy Vancouver day. It also has a lot of great dishes for sharing with friends which helps cut down on costs.
- Finch’s: 353 West Pender Street
This is a favourite of mine for when you want a sandwich, but also want to feel fancy. There are some quality ingredients that go into these sandwiches, and quite a few come in under $10. The soups are also very good value. A big draw for this location is the vegan and vegetarian options. If you can snag a seat, it’s a very charming space. But if you’re strapped for time, they will bundle your sandwich up in some butcher paper and you can slip quietly into your seat after the mid-lecture break.
These are just ten suggestions for Vancouver campus students to try out, and I’m sure there are many more. There are so many great places to eat downtown, it’s a shame if you don’t take advantage of them every now and then. Whether you are buying something every time you go to class (guilty!) or saving for a once-a-week indulgence, try to get away from campus and get more of what the location has to offer. And, if there are any amazing deals that were not included in this small list, maybe drop The Peak a line because as you can probably tell, I love food.