Alternative on-campus food options (or How to Avoid Subway)

Unpopular opinion: I am not a fan of Subway. Or perhaps it’s just that I’ve been there so many times while on campus that the prospect of having to eat one more chicken teriyaki sub makes my stomach curdle.

Me holding a paper bowl filled with mac and cheese and a fried cheese fritter on top. In the background is the ballot sheet with all the names of the chefs who participated in the event.
There's more to campus food life than muffins and pizza! Check out for ongoing food events, like free Vegan Breakfast or this annual Mac 'N' Cheese Smackdown!

Did you know that aside from the usual Starbucks, Spring Rolls, and Subway (i.e. The Holy Trifecta), U of T actually has quite a number of alternative food options for the studious library-goer in search of their next meal? If you’re sick of buying from the same places all the time, consider some of these if you haven’t already:

Rotman Exchange Cafe I discovered this gem last year when I mustered up the courage to enter the wholly different environment that is the Rotman Building. Ensconced inside this glass shrine to commerce is the Exchange Cafe. Imagine having had to spend two years of your life buying boxes of cheese and grapes at Starbucks and then being able to buy steak and frites for the SAME PRICE(!!!!!) The Exchange Cafe is like a cornucopia of interesting meal options at a very decent price. I would recommend also trying the grilled portobello burger or the thyme-seasoned fries with lemon mayo. *cries tears of joy*

The overhead menu signs at Rotman Exchange.

Multi-Faith Centre VEDA If you’re craving Indian food and don’t want to venture too far off campus to find it, VEDA is the place for you. U of T has two locations in the Multi-Faith Centre/Koffler House and Sandford Fleming. They have everything from small appetizers (samosas) to fuller meals (chicken curry, curried lentils, + rice, etc.) and even mango lassis aka the most delicious liquified form of fruit you could ever hope for.

A container of curried lentils over rice and a cup of mango lassi.

The Green Beet As someone who spends a disproportionate amount of time occupying Gerstein Library, I have also become a frequenter of the Green Beet Cafe on the lower floor. The Green Beet serves vegan and vegetarian soups, salads, dips (hummus!), and more. Accompanying this vast array of meatless gold is sustainably-sourced Marley coffee, tea, and various sweet treats including a zucchini brownie which tastes much more excellent than one might be led to believe. The Green Beet is now also home to the teaBOT, an automated machine that lets you choose/mix and match 10+ types of tea, adjust water temperature, caffeine level, and voila! Welcome to the 21st century.

The glass case inside Green Beet housing all their delicious vegetarian options.

You can check out the rest of Food Services-affiliated locations here. Other notables are Cafe Reznikoff, Innis Cafe, and The Cube.

I will now pause for a moment of silence at the loss of #FoodTruckFriday this school year. I remember in past years when I’d exit class at Con Hall and be enveloped in an overwhelmingly amazing array of aromas from different food trucks circled around King’s College. These weren’t just the average poutine, shawarma, or Chinese food ones we’re accustomed to. Food Truck Fridays would see some unusual additions to our campus food scene, including trucks dedicated to cupcakes, lobster rolls, and (…wait for it) TACOS. Alas, Food Truck Fridays have disappeared from our school. #TBT

A pink ice cream truck outside Galbraith on a summer day.
Spotted a Yogurty's food truck on campus last summer!

Many student groups and clubs also host bake sales all over campus. Sometimes you’re craving something sweet and the Starbucks line is just too long so you purchase a baked good from a friendly table.  A lot of times the money will be put towards student initiatives or fundraising for charity; you’ll also get to meet fellow students and maybe even end up joining the group they’re a part of! But it's always good to ask about ingredients or gluten-free options, to avoid potential allergic reactions.

A table for a Halloween-themed bake sale, complete with a string of pumpkin lights, a blood-spattered tablecloth, and chocolate muffins decorated with white icing to look like mummies!

Fellow blogger Taryn has written a lovely post in the past about on-campus cafes, including Diabolo’s and Caffiends (excellent name). Not only do you get to try new caffeinated drinks but you might also discover a new study/hangout spot on campus!

A blackboard Menu sign for Diabolo's. In front of it is a container stacked with green ceramic mugs and coffee cups.
(Photo courtesy of blogger Taryn)

Exciting food options give me immense #JoyatUofT. What are some tried and true places for you to eat on campus, UofT? Let me know in the comments or shout us out on Instagram and Twitter!

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