Apart from battling through Kant, getting your head around quantum mechanics and thinking about reading Ulysses, most people spend their student days sitting in that favoured pub or café watching the hours pass by. It’s something close to every student’s heart, that local provider of good food, strong coffee and cheap alcohol. We’ve selected the ten best places students go to get a square meal.
The Selly Sausage, Birmingham
There is really only one place to cure a hangover if you’re a student in Birmingham’s Selly Oak. Founded by a Birmingham University graduate, The Selly Sausage puts satisfying hungry students at the top of its agenda and has been doing so for nearly twenty years. It’s possible to make the most of the extensive menu for under a fiver. A decent burger with chips costs a measly £3.75, pancakes with exciting toppings start at £3.10 and for £4.85 you can treat yourself to the biggest fried breakfast you’ve ever seen.
539-541 Bristol Road, 0121 471 4464, www.sellysausage.co.uk
Those who have visited the Fringe Festival may know this place as Monster Mash, the speciality provider of up-market sausage and mash. With the re-naming came an expansion of its menu to include comforting cooking of every sort - pies and haggis dishes start at £6.50, and posh fish and chips costs £8.25 (a bit pricey, but worth it). MUMS is tradition with a twist and their famous Curry Puff (£7.50), essentially curry pie with chips, is truly something to be marvelled at. After all, Chicken Tikka Masala was invented in Scotland don’t cha know.
4a Forrest Road, 0131 260 9806, www.monstermashcafe.co.uk
Trof is the archetypal ‘institution’. Even if you’re not a student in Manchester you may have heard of it. The same company owns a number of venues across the city, all selling good food. However, Troff café, in the student village that is Fallowfield, is a favourite for a good ol’ cheap nosh. The offerings range from a £3.50 bacon buttie to the famous Trof burger at £6.95. With a gorgeous beer garden and comfy chairs it’s very tempting to spend all day there instead of writing those pesky essays.
2A Landcross Rd, 0161 224 0467, www.trof.co.uk
Café 1001, London
Café 1001 is a meeting point for students from all of London’s 22 universities. Situated in the middle of trendy Brick Lane, it may leave you suffering from an overdose of edge, but the food will soon cure that. They only use fresh produce and all of their offerings are subject to availability, so you rarely have the same thing twice. In almost all weathers the café has an outdoor barbeque where you can get kebabs and burgers at reasonable prices. It tends to get very packed which means that, on the up-side, the heat from hoards of bodies and the flaming grill can keep you outside on even the coldest November night.
91 Brick Lane, 020 7247 9679, www.cafe1001.co.uk
The Font, Liverpool
The Font also has two branches in Manchester with similar menus, but the one in Liverpool, being just around the corner from the university, has become the quintessential student pub. During term time it’s always rammed and when the students go home it’s dead. The food is cheap and very cheerful, with a satisfying full-English costing £3.50 and most sandwiches and burgers going around the £4.00 mark. A dangerous plus is that cocktails are £2.00 all the time, everyday. Tempting, but not advisable as a hangover cure.
3 Arrad St, 0151 706 0345, www.fontbar.com
Bungalows and Bears, Sheffield
This spectacular old fire station operates as both one of Sheffield’s best new music venues and a lively afternoon hang-out. The atmosphere is cosy and relaxed, despite the echoing interior, and daytime events include craft sales and vintage markets. The food is reasonably priced and high-quality. Sandwiches cost around £5.00, are huge and come served with chips. The ‘boutique burgers’ include some creative combinations (salsa, jalapenos & sour cream anyone?) and are famously good. Another plus is that it serves until 10pm!
The Old Fire Station, Division Street, 0114 279 2901, www.bungalowsandbears.com
Hi-Lo has been a hang-out of students in the know for nearly 30 years now. The Jamaican Eating House sells authentic home cooking at tiny prices and is frequented by students from both of the city’s universities. Soup of the day can be anything from spicy pumpkin to goat, depending on how the chef is feeling, and small dishes like baked sweet potato and fried plantain can cost as little as £2.00. Due to its liberal, hippy atmosphere, it may come as a surprise to learn that Prime Minister David Cameron was a regular during his time as a student in Oxford. According to owner Andy he was ‘very cool’. We find that hard to believe, but he certainly knew where to find good food.
68-70 Cowley Road, 01865 725 984, www.hilojamaicaneatinghouse.co.uk
Blink and you’ll miss it, but Kensingtons, a small café on Kensington Gardens in Brighton’s North Laine Shopping Area, is the perfect place to while away a lazy afternoon. Its balcony seems to have been specially designed for (non-creepy) people-watching and the coffee is decent and cheap. The menu is eclectic, but reliable, ranging from the classic baked potato and all day breakfast to tortillas with refried beans. When it comes to the boho greasy spoon, you are spoiled for choice in Brighton, yet many claim that Kensingtons does the best fry-up in the city. Quite a claim!
1A Kensington Gardens, 01273 570 963
Serving fresh Mexican cuisine, Boojum is the place to go for fast, comforting food without the guilt. It specialises in huge, high quality burritos that are made right in front of you. Despite its slightly unassuming exterior, you would be hard pushed to hear a bad word about it from anybody who’s been. It’s a favourite of Belfast students and offers that irresistible combination of delicious, healthy food, in big portions and for small prices. You choose your fillings and pay accordingly, meaning a burrito, essentially a huge meal in a wrap, can cost you anything from £4.25 upwards, depending on your need or your greed.
73 Botanic Avenue, 028 9031 5334, www.boojummex.com
The University Café, Glasgow (The Grosvenor)
Established in 1918, The University Café is the undeniable king of greasy spoons. And greasy is the word. If you’re a food snob, don’t come here, although the award-winning homemade ice cream, made by the Italian-Scots owners, would satisfy even the most demanding customer. The interior looks like it has survived the ups and downs of the twentieth century, which indeed it has, and the menu ranges from the classic ‘full Scottish’ (at a modest £4.50) to the even more classic ‘fish supper’. This gem is likely to outlive us all, especially if we keep eating their chips.
87 Byres Road, 0141 339 5217
Do you disagree with our choices? Or do you have a suggestion for your university city? Let us know below!