Finding cheap places to grub off campus

With an hour-long lunch break everyday throughout the course of a few weeks, a CSUN student could easily go to every eatery on campus. For students that enjoy a bit more variety, there are more than 20 restaurants within walking distance of the campus.

Several of these restaurants offer student discounts, which is a welcome relief for those students who cannot afford to go to sit-down restaurants on a regular basis. But many restaurants seem to have a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy about their discounts, making it important to remember to flash that CSUN student ID card and ask about any discounts.

Discounts typically come in two varieties: a free item, such as a drink or dessert item, or a percentage discount off the total bill. Baja Fresh, located in the Northridge University Center on Reseda Boulevard and Nordhoff Street, and Chipotle, on Reseda Boulevard off Darby Avenue, are two of the most well known restaurants offering discounts of the first variety. Students who show their student ID cards will receive a free small drink with their orders. Both restaurants feature a wide variety of Mexican food beyond CSUN’s one El Pollo Loco location in the Matador Bookstore complex.

Percentage discounts can really add up to great savings, especially if you go out to lunch with a group of friends and agree to split the tab. Even restaurants that are not exactly “sit-down and relax” places have discounts of this variety. My Hero, on Plummer Street just off Reseda Boulevard and home to a variety of delicious subs, offers a 10 percent discount off all items on their menu with a valid student ID card. Quizno’s Subs in the University Plaza on Reseda Boulevard and Nordhoff Street, opposite the Northridge University Center, is another such place, also offering a 10 percent discount off the total bill with a student ID. Despite Quizno’s being part of a chain, only the University Plaza location near the campus offers the discount.

Emle’s, a moderately priced and cozy caf? on the corner of Reseda Boulevard just off Prairie Street, has offered 10 percent discounts for about two years in an attempt to draw more CSUN students to their restaurant, which features an extensive breakfast and early bird dinner menu, including some Mediterranean-inspired dishes like kebabs and braised lamb steak.

If students have been missing meals and are really hungry, the China Olive Buffet offers an all-you-can-eat buffet with the same 10 percent discount off the total bill. Much like Quizno’s Subs and Emle’s, they have been offering the discount for more than two years. Unlike some other local restaurants that have taken away their discounts such as Carl’s Jr., they have kept at it in the hopes of attracting more students.

The eatery that has offered the longest-standing student discount is by far the Falafel Palace on Reseda Boulevard and Prairie Street, which has offered a 10 percent discount off all menu items for 35 years.

For more Middle Eastern fare, try Micheline’s Pita Pockets located in the Northridge University Center on Reseda Boulevard and Nordhoff Street. They have offered a 10 percent student discount off an order’s total for more than 10 years with no plans to change that anytime soon.

El Caporal #5, a fast food Mexican restaurant on Reseda Boulevard between Prairie and Dearborn Streets, does not accept ATM or credit cards, but they offer a 15 percent discount to CSUN students with a current student ID card.

The newest addition to the Northridge University Center is the Hana Sushi Bar, an elegantly decorated sushi boat and sit-down restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Indian food restaurant Madras Masala. Having just opened recently, they hope to attract students looking for some delicious, freshly-made sushi by offering the same 10 percent discount as many other local eateries.

If students are in the mood for pizza, they will be pleased to know that lesser-known pizza chain Hungry Howie’s on Reseda Boulevard near Vincennes Street also offers 10 percent off anything on their menu with a student ID card or the best coupon offered at the time of order. This discount is even good for deliveries, so students should mention that they attend CSUN if they call up and order one of their uniquely flavored-crust pizzas.

For something just to cool down with, try the Marble Slab Creamery that is next to Hungry Howie’s Pizza, an ice cream parlor with a wide variety of dipped cones and toppings to suit your sweet tooth. They offer 10 percent off any menu item ordered, from ice cream cones to cold milk shakes.

Some nearby restaurants may not offer student discounts, but they still have delicious food at affordable prices. One such establishment is the Hot Wok Caf?, offering a wide variety of Schezuwan cuisine with ample lunch specials starting at $4.25, which can be eaten in-restaurant, delivered or picked up.

McDonalds is yet another restaurant lacking a student discount, but as many students can attest, they offer a wide variety of cheeseburgers and similar American dishes for cheap prices, if they are willing to pay the equivalent price in calories. The McDonalds on Reseda and Nordhoff has a 24-hour drive-thru and offers wireless Internet access during the day.

CSUN may offer a variety of cuisine of its own, but for those days when students just want to get off campus, there are plenty of restaurants featuring cuisine from around the world. Many of them offer student discounts and some do not, but they are still deliciously affordable. Students might do well to get to know the area beyond the parking lots and expand their palates.

Do you have more to say than a comment? Want any feedback from the writer? Story ideas? Head to The Gripevine.