Eugene has an extremely rich gastronomic culture that is sometimes overlooked by college students, as it’s a time in our lives where eating well isn’t always a priority. However, this town has lots to offer in terms of flavor, price range and atmosphere. It’s simply a place where culinary magic comes to thrive and I believe we all have the opportunity to experience it — even while balling on a budget. So, if you’re looking to endeavour in some good eatin’ without strapping the wallet, here are some restaurant recommendations worth trying.
The first thing that comes to mind for great food with great prices is Pastini’s Meatball Monday situation. A new addition to the Oakway Center, this Italian restaurant with a modern flare offers a classically delicious spaghetti and meatballs dish for only $8.75 every Monday. If you can’t fit this into your schedule, don’t fret. Pastini offers college students’ favorite hobbies: Happy Hour! Happening Monday through Thursday 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. (and until 10:00 p.m. on Fridays), the Happy Hour menu offers many options to choose from around the $5.00 mark. My favorite is the bruschetta classico ($4.00) - it is so scrumptious - but there are also various pastas and appetizers available. Another bonus is the spot’s romantic ambience, making it an ideal date destination. That, my hungry friends, is amore.
Another honorable mention is Pho the Good Times. You can’t go wrong with warm noodle-y goodness and portion size that equates to an Olympic-sized swimming pool. A fat bowl of the tofu and vegetable pho is only $9.00 (basically $4.50 since I take half home), which includes fresh garnishes like bean sprouts, cilantro, Thai basil, jalapeño slices and lime. Yes, please.
Right near that gem is another hot spot, Izumi Sushi & Grill. I always crave sushi but often resist as I can’t help breaking the bank by getting every tuna roll on the menu. However, this sleek joint has an amazing Happy Hour menu with cheap prices every day from 4 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. until close. Some of the best bangs for your buck are the seven piece pork gyoza ($4.00), the spicy tuna roll ($5.00 - uh, sure) and the four piece sushi sampler ($6.00).
Staying on the Happy Hour train, if you’re craving some good old-fashioned American grub, head over to Café 440 between 3 and 5 p.m. to get some steals. This family-owned restaurant serves up BBQ pork sliders for only $6.00, featuring grilled brioche buns and a Hop Valley IPA BBQ sauce. Yum.
For all the vegan gourmands out there, one of the best comfort food dishes in town is at Cornbread Cafe. Hit up this colorful diner for its fluffy split and grilled biscuits topped with country seitan sausage gravy for a very filling $7.00. (Warning: not for the gluten sensitive, as seitan is literally wheat meat. You will fall into an automatic slumber upon ingestion and your stomach will blow up like a balloon. Feast with caution!)
Next on the list will invite your mouth to water and stomach to soar. Located in the Whiteaker District, Eugene’s hippest neighborhood, Tacovore has a wide selection of - you guessed it - tacos. Most cost around $3.75 each and are jam-packed with protein and vibrant, citrusy flavors that will leave both your palette and belly singing.
So, the next time you’re looking to (affordably) treat yourself to some noms, check out this zesty list for your next meal. Are you hungry yet? I am. Bon appetit!