For Peninsula college students, back-to-school season can mean financial pressure to manage tuition, housing and other living expenses in a place with one of the highest costs of living in the country – not to mention the pressure of navigating time-consuming school assignments and projects.
To help ease the transition into a new school year, we’ve put together a selection of off-campus and budget-friendly bites for students at nearby colleges, many of which also offer quick service for students looking to grab a bite in between classes. Here are places you can get affordable meals near Cañada College, College of San Mateo, De Anza, Foothill, Menlo College, Santa Clara University, Skyline College and Stanford.
Cañada College, Redwood City
At Sancho’s, there are plenty of hearty meal options under or around $10, including fish tacos, quesadillas and a $10.25 breakfast burrito with bacon or chorizo. Delivery and takeout are also available. They also have locations at 491 Lytton Ave. and 2723 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto.
The Village Hub Coffee Bar and Garden
Hosted as a nonprofit interfaith community hub next to the Woodside Village Church, the cafe offers espresso drinks alongside Swedish and American pastries in a large outdoor courtyard with free Wi-Fi. Bonus: You can study there too.
College of San Mateo, San Mateo
Toa Yuen Restaurant
This Chinese restaurant offers comforting soups for under $10, tofu and veggie dishes for $10-$11; and chicken or beef dishes for a couple of dollars beyond that. Splitting a meal with a group of friends? Order a party tray of cashew chicken, serving six to eight people, for $40.
Toa Yuen Restaurant, 3170 Campus Drive, San Mateo, 650-349-0414.
Enjoy Northern Vietnamese cuisine including pho, rice dishes and other soups. Chicken and beef broths are cooked overnight here to highlight the flavors. Order a large pho and have two meals covered or split it with your roommate.
Honorable mention: Hit up the College of San Mateo Farmers Market, which runs Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. year round, for fresh produce, food truck fare and vendors selling tamales, baked goods and more.
De Anza College, Cupertino
The City Fish
This casual restaurant serves a variety of seafood dishes, including clam chowder, smoked salmon paninis, grilled fish and combo plates.
A fusion Indian-Italian restaurant serving pizzas and other Italian dishes with Indian flavor profiles. Menu items include masala knots, lemon pepper wings, spicy butter chicken pizza and a range of other pizza flavors, including several vegetarian options. Personal pizzas are under $10.
Foothill College, Los Altos Hills
Charley Noodle & Grill
This Asian fusion restaurant offers an assortment of noodle types, including udon, ramen and soba, alongside sushi, katsu and other dishes. Party trays are also available starting at $48.
Charley Noodle & Grill, 244 State St., Los Altos, 650-948-5700.
Spot – A Pizza Place
A downtown Los Altos staple since 2004, Spot offers garlic bread starting at $4.50, salads and subs for under $10 and a variety of pizza combinations, including the “Spot Light,” which has artichoke hearts, goat cheese, roasted red peppers, pine nuts and basil.
Spot A Pizza Place,133 Main St., Los Altos, 650-947-7768.
Menlo College, Atherton
California Kahve at Oak + Violet
The Park James Hotel isn’t exactly the first spot one would search for a budget meal, but a coffee drink from California Kahve, which opened earlier this year inside the hotel, is a relatively affordable “treat yourself” expense if you want to still leave campus and feel fancy for a bit.
Mami Cheli’s Tacos & Pupusas
Mami Cheli’s in Menlo Park offers filling pupusas and tacos in a variety of flavor combinations, including vegan and vegetarian-friendly options. The cheesy pupusa is topped with grilled cheese with optional jalapeños. Tortas, quesadillas and burritos are also on the menu.
Mami Cheli’s, 989 El Camino Real Suite B, Menlo Park, 650-521-0636. Instagram: @mamichelisofficial.
Santa Clara University, Santa Clara
This brunch diner has an outdoor patio and offers hearty omelets, scrambles and eggs benedict breakfasts, as well as cheesesteaks, sandwiches, milkshakes and mimosas.
This Filipino restaurant offers hearty servings of dishes like silog, or garlic fried rice and egg, and lumpia for affordable prices.
Tapsilog Cantina, 1998 Homestead Road, Santa Clara, 408-326-2284. Instagram: @tapsilog_cantina2020.
Skyline College, San Bruno
Taste of Burma
Daly City’s Taste of Burma dishes up soups, curries, stir fry and salads at affordable prices. Try chin paung kyaw, a dish with stir-fried roselle leaves for under $10, or the chicken paratha, a flatbread served with chicken curry.
Taste of Burma, 2025 Gellert Blvd. #200, Daly City, 650-449-1378.
Kitten & Pinky
Kitten & Pinky in Pacifica offers affordable bánh mì sandwiches, BBQ pork and chicken over vermicelli noodles and spring rolls, with most items set at $7-$8.
Kitten & Pinky, 1715 Palmetto Ave., Pacifica, 650-290-8153.
Honorable mention: Get a late-night caffeine and sugar fix at Pit Stop Boba Shop, a boba outpost open until 10 p.m. at 2300 Westborough Blvd. in South San Francisco.
Stanford University, Stanford
Mediterranean Wraps offers students a quick, filling meal fix and a variety of dishes including shawarma and a mujadara plate, made of lentils and rice with caramelized onions. Try the veggie wrap, which has falafel, hummus, zucchini, cauliflower and tahini for a satisfying vegetarian meal on the go.
There are a number of fast-casual options in downtown Palo Alto, but for a full-time student, what sounds better than an affordably priced, burrito-sized sushi roll? A growing local chain, the University Avenue outpost offers a variety of burrito roll options mixing and matching Latin and Japanese flavors and ingredients.
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