(Map Courtesy of Google Maps.)
my first year at UCSB I gained thirty pounds, lurching from 130 to 160.
Despite jogging twenty miles a week and sampling gym machines at UCSB’s
Rec-Center, I couldn’t escape the ‘Freshman Fifteen.’ It caught me
twice! Even when I ran marathons up the mountains to the north, I
couldn’t shake the weight.
Well, when you run, you’ve gotta eat, and Isla Vista’s got hungry
people covered. Today let’s look at some dining options near campus.
First, I’m writing for Tropicana del Norte, so let’s discuss their cafeteria. Food is catered by College Fresh,
and I can state without bias I’m looking forward to eating there again.
When I moved into an apartment for the 2016-17 school year I missed the
privilege of having teams of caterers make food for me. The menu
changes daily, and if one day nothing appeals to you, you can walk to
the back to order hamburgers and the like (or eggs made-to-order in the
morning). Grab some toppings and condiments from the sandwich-making
materials and you’ve got a meal. I wouldn’t eat here three meals a day
seven days a week, but as a staple food-source for college students,
Tropicana knows what they’re doing.
let’s review UCSB’s dining halls for anyone who has a dining plan. The
dining hall closest to Tropicana Del Norte is probably Carrillo, in
Manzanita Village. Carrillo has the widest variety and best desserts,
but only soft-serve ice-cream. Ortega and De La Guerra both have hard,
scoopable ice-cream (DLG a wider selection). Ortega and DLG are quite
close to one another near the Old Little Theater, and of the two I
prefer DLG. Ortega offers sushi, but DLG has a build-a-burrito bar.
However, Ortega occasionally has sundae bars, chili bars, or other
special events I’d recommend over DLG. Check the schedule
once school starts. Ortega is also the only dining hall which lets you
take a box of food off the premises. (There’s another dining hall,
Portola, but I’ve never been there. It’s built into off-campus student
campus there are two Subways, a Panda Express, a Jamba Juice, and other
assorted eateries, mostly in the University Center (U-Cen). I enjoy
Santorini Island Grill, which serves gyros, spanakopita, shawarma, and
baklava. I also enjoy the bulk candy bins at the U-Cen student store
(not the book-store, but nearby), where you can satisfy your sweet-tooth
and pay by the pound.
who’s been to UCSB before is waiting for me to mention FreeBirds (or,
uh, FreeB!rds) World Burrito, which is near Tropicana del Norte on
Pardall Road. Many campuses claim to have the first FreeB!rds, but only
UCSB touts that title legitimately. FreeB!irds offers burritos, monster
burritos, quesadillas, quesaritos (burritos made using quesadillas),
tacos, and nachos. Opinion differs on whether it’s comparable to
Chipotle, but the nearest Chipotle is miles away and FreeB!irds gives
you more food per dollar, I think. Generally a monster burrito will feed
a student for a day or two, and I’d recommend splitting the nachos with
FreeB!rds, just outside of school, there’s a third Subway, a Habit
burger grill, and a Starbucks. Down Pardall there’s SilverGreens for
healthy burgers and vegetarian-friendly fare, and Buddha Bowls for
bread-bowls filled with soup or salad. When they scoop bread to make the
bowl, they give you the scoop as garlic bread!
a few restaurants serve boba, or bubble-tea. If you’ve never had them
before, bobas (bobii?) are chewy little Taiwanese tapioca balls
submerged in a drink. You slurp them up with a wide straw. Some people
love ‘em, some people hate ‘em. Personally, I love ‘em. Maybe it’s a
Californian thing, or a Millennial thing, like avocados.
I first had boba at Hana Kitchen. Hana Kitchen sells meat-and-vegetable
bowls with rice; I prefer the vegan option, which is soy-based, as the
larger sizes are a bit too much meat for me to eat in one sitting. They
also have interesting tacos, and taco sales on Tuesdays. Hana Kitchen
sells boba and other drink-jellies in a variety of beverages like teas,
milk teas, and ice-slushes. The Pho Bistro sells boba in more exotic
flavors like taro root, alongside an extensive menu of vietnamese soups
and noodles. My favorite restaurant name is Naan Stop, an Indian
counter-service restaurant which also serves boba. True to their name,
they’ve got great naan.
no shortage of pizza in Isla Vista. The most famous pizza in IV would
either be Woodstock’s (which also has a kiosk on campus) or
Pizza-My-Heart. Pizza-My-Heart serves pizza by the slice, while
Woodstock’s serves mostly whole pizzas and has event nights, like trivia
night. Blaze Pizza on Pardall will build your pizza in front of you. If
you’d like a more standard experience, there’s a Domino’s near IV
Market next to a sushi place, Sushiya.
desserts. The well-named IV Drip sells coffee and sandwiches, but is
most well-known for its ice-cream. The Equilibrium Cafe sells crepes of
all kinds. Next to Domino’s, Sweet Alley sells frozen yogurt and candy
isn’t an exhaustive list of the restaurants in IV, but I hope it helps
you find places to eat with your friends in your first year at Isla
Vista. There’s enough variety here for everyone to find something they
enjoy. If you see me stocking up on food after a long run in preparation
for an exhausted hibernation, say hi, and tell me your favorite place
to eat! Did I leave it off my list?