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Campus Life

Favourite places to eat at UBC

By Raven Nyman

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Students: have you ever found yourself on campus, between classes or sitting in lecture, when suddenly, a rumbling tummy strikes?

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve found myself in that position many times, too. During my first years at university, that rumbly tummy typically led to purchasing overpriced and often disappointing meals.

If you go to UBC yourself, or you’re just visiting, hopefully I can help you to avoid an unsatisfying snack by sharing a few of my favourite—and not so favourite—places to eat on campus.

1) The Delly - Located on the lower level of the Nest (UBC’s Student Union Building), this spot isn’t just my first choice on campus, but it’s also one of the healthier options you’ll find at UBC. At the Delly, sandwiches are made fresh before your eyes, they taste amazing, and the employees aren’t messing around.

They’re accustomed to the lunch rush, so if you see a line up, don’t be intimated; it moves quickly and most of the employees are sandwich-making ninjas.

The sandwich bar allows you to choose your bread, choice of cheese, meats and/or fresh veggies, with a variety of toppings. Before coming to UBC, I would almost never choose to have a sandwich for lunch—something about all the bread and mayo I think.

Since discovering sandwiches at the Delly, I’ve become an enthusiast. They’ve also got a huge variety of organic beverages and other meals, including in-house butter chicken, breakfast, and lunch specials. The Delly is very active on social media, so check their daily Chef’s special on Instagram (picture and price are listed).

My personal favourite is a turkey sandwich with avocado, cucumber, and cheddar on whole wheat or multigrain! The sourdough here is a little too crunchy for me, but the veggies are always crisp and your avocado is sliced before your eyes and never, ever brown.

2) Uppercase - For those in their fourth or fifth year of study at UBC, you probably remember the good Old SUB (Student Union Building), home to Bernoulli’s Bagels and Blue Chip Cookie, when they still had their own separate—and more expansive—menus.

In those days, there were way more cookies to peruse and dozens of specialty bagels, even cream cheese to take home, and who can forget the many delicious combos to choose from? Sadly, when the Old SUB started closing shops to make way for the new SUB, we lost a lot of our best food joints.

Blue Chip merged with Bernoulli’s to become Uppercase in the Nest, with a distinctly smaller menu. Nonetheless, Uppercase remains one of my go-to spots on campus for an affordable snack—think muffins, bagels, hot beverages, and great breakfast wraps.

This is where you’ll find the only Blue Chip Cookies in the city, and if you haven’t had one yet, well, what are you waiting for? Try the Italian cheese bagel with garlic-onion cream cheese. This baby is to die for.

3) Great Dane Coffee - Located on Walter Gage Road (behind the Gage residences), the name gives you a hint to their main attraction. However, they’ve also got a remarkably cheesy Grilled Cheese—panini style—that is worth a try.

Although, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone with lactose sensitivity because there’s a lot of cheese on that thing. Great Dane has plenty of beverages to choose from, and they even sell their own pickled carrots, beets, and veggies in a corner refrigerator.

There’s also plenty of lovely outdoor patio seating that’s first come, first serve (hard to find on campus)—so be sure to check them out. Try the vegan brownies.

I walked past them countless times before sampling one as I waited for my London Fog. I don’t know how they do it, but I need the recipe.

Usually when I go for a treat, I go the whole nine years and don’t choose vegan or sugar free, but with this brownie you can’t go wrong. It’s massive, very dense, and oh so moist and chocolatey! If brownies aren’t your thing, try their Peanut Butter energy bites.

4) Stir it Up/Ike’s Café - You can find this café chain in various buildings around campus (try Irving K Barber or Buchanan A). Coffee, tea, pre-made sandwiches, pepperoni, chips, muffins—they’ve got it all. As an Arts student, many of my classes are in one of the Buchanan blocks, so a quick run to Stir it Up for coffee or a healthy snack is feasible within a bathroom break or the transition between classes.

Stir it Up and Ike’s offer daily lunch specials that are quick and hearty! Both a meat and vegan entrée are offered, with your choice of pasta or rice underneath. Try their tasty beef stew with mushrooms and onions over a bed of rice; I just have to order this one when I see it on special. If we’re talking convenience, you can’t go wrong here.

Admittedly, there are more hits than misses in terms of quality and affordable food choices on campus, so I will mention a few spots to avoid. You might remember the Old SUB’s basement noodle joint—formally known as the Moon—for its cheap and greasy (but great) Chinese takeout.

This place was home to my favourite wonton soup. But with the Nest’s opening, the Moon disappeared, and was replaced by the Grand Noodle Emporium, now located in the Nest’s lower level. This place looks awesome, but here is your official warning.

I was excited to try the new selections when they opened, but sadly, I’ve given it multiple chances, and the Grand Noodle Emporium continues to disappoint. I’ve tried their wonton soup, ramen, Pad Thai, and their buffet-bar, too—all with bad results.

I’ve experienced multiple inaccurate orders here, and have yet to finish one of their dishes; that’s something coming from someone who hates wasting food and has often been called the left-over queen.

Similarly, the Honour Roll—which existed in both the Old and New SUB—has taken a dive towards disaster. Though they claim to have a modern, fresh take on sushi, their rolls continue to disappoint, and I’ve stopped trying all together.

Their previous location offered decent sushi, but the quality has diminished in the transition, with sub-par rolls worth skipping. Compared to my favourite sushi spots around the city, the Honour Roll gets a failing grade for frequent mush and nowhere-to-be-found freshness.

Here’s hoping both spots can turn things around in the future—I’m always up for another try!

I’d love to hear fellow students’ favourite snack spots—and the rejects to avoid. Tweet me @RavsWritingDesk to get in on the conversation.