CHEAP EATS OF MANASOTA
For college students, free time is frequently plagued by the lingering feeling that one should be doing something else–something productive and homework related. Eating out is a luxury that many students don’t have the time or money for and is, as a result, one of the fun activities that provokes the guilt. So when it comes to going out to eat, the best places are often those that quell that feeling the most. When you want something different than your usual sub or Metz hot plate, let this article be your beacon to the most affordable bacon or, if you’re vegan/vegetarian, black bean burger.
If willing to travel a longer distance, the best deals are a car ride away. Tortilleria Doña Chela on Washington Blvd sells tacos for $1-2 apiece. These things are filled to the brim with flavorful meats, veggies and herbs. This isn’t Taco Bell’s dollar menu. These are delicious, packed tacos at a real tortilleria for the price of a Taco Bell “taco”. They make the tortillas right there, in shop. On the Bradenton side, $1 tacos can also be had at El Mariachi Loco. According to third-year Sabrina Mikes, tacos are $1 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For Sushi, Yuniku has the best deal with their all-you-can-eat sushi & hibachi lunch for $12.95 Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Included in this deal are rolls like the OMG and the Buccaneers Roll. Alternatively, the Drunken Poet downtown is a little closer and, though they do not have an all-you-can-eat menu, their sushi rolls are really cheap. One roll at the Drunken Poet is eight pieces. They have classic favorites like tuna rolls and eel rolls for $6.50 each.
All you can eat indian buffets are also a fantastic choice. Tandoor is the best around town. Priced just a little higher than Flavors of India at $11.49, the buffet has only good reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp, popular restaurant rating applications. The buffet is not large, with only five to six dishes not including naan, but it is an extremely filling dining experience. The butter chicken melts in your mouth.
But where can one find a decently priced, decent cheeseburger in this town? The Smashburger on University is a good bet. All the burgers are made to order with never frozen, fresh ingredients. A regular ol’ cheeseburger is a good one here, but they also have burgers topped with things like avocados, truffles and goat cheese. Plus, they’re fast. For vegetarians they have salads. Their site says their spinach and goat cheese salad includes “raisins, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions with balsamic vinaigrette.”
Proximity to campus, though, is always important when it comes to saving time. The three closest restaurants to campus are Mirna’s Cuban Cuisine, LeAnh’s Vietnamese Restaurant and Shelf Indulgence Used Book Boutique. For the location, these restaurants cannot be beat.
Shelf Indulgence is a new establishment that has replaced the much loved Big E’s in the plaza that includes Growler’s Pub, LeAnh’s and Painter’s Palate. The walls are lined with books and Nikki, the owner, is loved by many.
“The owner is so so nice, she will memorize your drink order!” third-year Sierra Schwabach said.
Mirna’s is a fantastic Cuban restaurant just north of New College. Open since 1992, it is a Sarasota staple. There onion soup is made with fresh onions, swiss cheese and beef broth. The cheese is baked on top.
“For the amount of food you get for the price I would say Mirna’s is great, the island chicken is amazing and the sides are just so good,” thesis student Kira Thoenes said.
While technically not a restaurant since they do not provide seating, Shell Barbeque is anyone’s best option for a solid amount of Mac n’ Cheese and lip-smacking ribs in the wee hours of the morning and a list of restaurants for students is not complete without it. With an assortment of sauces, the customer can choose how doused in BBQ sauce their ribs should be. They are located at the local Shell Gas Station, right next to the residential side of campus. As a result, Shell Barbeque is the closest establishment to the college campus without actually being on campus. If seating is a priority, Perkins is the next best thing for 24-hour service.
Students are a busy, anxious crowd. Some days just getting up and making food can be a hassle. With the recent academic setback caused by Irma, one may feel like they should have gotten more done during those days awaiting the storm. It’s alright. Not many people did, either. Take time time to breathe, to remember a friend, to remember yourself. To take both out to dinner.
Information for this article was gathered from various students who suggested restaurants on the forum thread “Best Cheap Places to Eat Around Sarasota/Bradenton?” posted Sept. 17.