UVic Food: A Review (by Talen and Paige)

There is an age-old question on University campuses: what is the best, most affordable food on campus, and where can we find it?

To answer this question, we set out to try to taste test fine UVic cuisine, and rank both affordable and free options to spread the word about what UVic food outlets have to offer!

In this post, you’ll find:*

  1. Food offered around campus at food outlets, ranked by quality, quantity, cost, and convenience (distance from classes).
  2. FREE food available for students from clubs or organizations on, or close to, UVic campus!
  3. Free food calendar you can add to your Google calendar to never miss a free food option again!

*Disclaimer: all of our food tastings were done purely through student recommendations. If you know of a great snack or meal on campus that isn’t on this list, please let us know in the comment section below!

In no particular order, here are the meals we reviewed:

Section 1: UVic Food Outlet Items:

Poutine (vegetarian)

‘Most food per dollar’ award

  • Location: Mystic Market Grill
  • Price: $6.50
  • Quality: 2/5
  • Quantity: 5/5
  • Convenience: 5/5

Judges’ Notes:

If you are (a) extremely hungry, (b) want a convenient, fast bite to eat without breaking the bank, and (c) don’t need a gourmet meal, then BOOM! vegetarian poutine is the campus snack for you!

 

Chicken Caesar Wrap (with onion rings)

Best ‘unintentional food combo’ award

  • Location: The International Grill (Student Union Building)
  • Price: $6.75
  • Quality: 3.5/5
  • Quantity: 4/5
  • Convenience: 4/5

Judges’ Notes:

Although there are many chicken wraps available on campus, this one may take the cake!…err, wrap. None of the onion, veggie and spice frills of the caesar wrap offered at other venues in the SUB, but The Grill’s version is reasonably priced, crispy, and comes with onion rings – which for our judges, made the whole experience worthwhile. AND if you place the onion rings in the wrap itself, it makes for one heck of study snack.

 

Chicken Salad Wrap (on gluten free wrap)

‘Noteworthy gluten-free option’ award

  • Location: The Health Food Bar (Student Union Building
  • Price: $9
  • Quality: 3/5
  • Quantity: 4/5
  • Convenience: 4/5

Judges’ Notes:

We compared two chicken-based wraps from the SUB — one from the International Grill (IG) and the other from the Health Food Bar (HFB) — to see how they compared.

It was an interesting take; the HFB Chicken had more veggies in general and two different types, while the IG chicken was breaded, fried, and came with onion rings. Both wraps were quite filling.

OK, the IG wrap was definitely tastier – an onion ring from this plate was added to the HFB wrap to add some tasty texture. And as usual, it was decided the addition of hot sauce went a long way. I’d say try out a few different wrap options – there are so many that you are bound to find a good option for your budget and palate.

 

Breakfast sandwich combo

‘Most food/drink groups in a single purchase’ award

  • Location: Mystic Market
  • Price: $8.00
  • Quality: 3/5
  • Quantity: 3-4/5
  • Convenience: 5/5

Judges’ Notes:

Picture this: It’s 9:22am on a Tuesday. You woke up late, skipped breakfast and made it just in time for your 8:30 course, and you now have 30 minutes before your next class. You are tired, uncaffeinated, and in need of something to perk up the morning.

Lo and behold, the breakfast sandwich combo! Egg, cheese, meat, lettuce and tomato with a side of hash browns and coffee. Would it be our best choice on the flavour scale? Emphatically No. But for $8, it can help take away the sting of morning classes.

 

Kimchi Fries (vegetarian or with the addition of pulled pork)

‘Tastiest food when nothing else is open’ award

  • Location: Felicita’s
  • Price: $7-10
  • Quality: 5/5
  • Quantity: 4.5/5
  • Convenience: 4/5

Judges’ Notes:

BBQ Sauce, fermented kimchi, and fresh thick cut fries are a hidden gem of Felicita’s on-campus pub. Get more food for a few dollars extra with the addition of pulled pork. You can order this dish to stay or go, and let me tell you, you will not be disappointed.

The kimchi adds a complex, fresh flavour that would be at home in a restaurant downtown. The only downside is the waiting time – not for when you need a quick fix—but you really want to stop and enjoy every bite of this.

 

Tuna Salad Sandwich or Wrap (gluten free)

‘Fastest Lunch’ award

  • Location: Mac’s (café on the 1st floor of MacLauren Building)
  • Price: $8.00
  • Quality: 4/5
  • Quantity: 3.5/5
  • Convenience: 4/5

Judges’ Notes:

Mac’s is a great place to go just before or just after the lunch rush when the lines are short and you can walk out with a delicious sandwich in less than 5 minutes.

Mac’s features plenty of vegetarian, gluten free, vegan options, super fresh veggies, and toppings galore so you can make your dream sandwich every time. Time it right to be in and out quick!

 

Section 2: FREE FOOD options!

Everything you could ever ask for piled on one heaping, delicious plate

‘Quintessential UVic Experience’ award

  • Location: Emmanuel Baptist Church (just off campus on Cedar Hill Cross Road)
  • Price: FREE
  • Quality: 5/5
  • Quantity: 5/5
  • Convenience: 1/5

Judges’ Notes:

AN ABUNDANCE OF FREE FOOD! Tasty, homemade like your grandma would do it. The wonderful people of the Emmanuel Church host free student dinners every Tuesday, with a free food market beforehand.

Community members and businesses donate food items which are prepared fresh and are unfailingly delicious. The only downside is how popular this event is! Be prepared to wait in line – bring a friend, a book, a guitar, and settle in for the best meal you will eat all week. BONUS: you can bring a container and take home leftovers.

 

Roast Veggies and many other unique items weekly

‘Best reclaimed food’ award

  • Location: Outside the SUB (Student Union Building) front entrance, 1pm on Fridays
  • Price: FREE
  • Quality: 4/5
  • Quantity: 4/5
  • Convenience: 4/5

Judges’ Notes:

Drop by the SUB on Friday afternoons for a bowl full of reclaimed food. The volunteers of the Community Cabbage go on weekly ‘dives’ to reclaim food that was headed to the dump. These still-tasty food items are then cooked up and brought in steaming for students every week! Drop by with your own bowl and fork (they have some there but bringing your own is appreciated) and learn more about the super Community Cabbage initiative over a bowl of roasted veggies, potatoes, and cobbler.

 

Pancake Breakfast!

Best surprise free food award!

  • Location: Unknown, Always Mysterious, Ever Changing (oooooooooh)
  • Price: FREE
  • Quality: 4/5
  • Quantity: 4/5
  • Convenience: 4.5/5

Judges’ Notes:

Every now and then, out of the ether, a FREE PANCAKE BREAKFAST will appear on campus, sometimes heralding the start of a new semester, or in this case, a smooth way to encourage students to vote in the recent referendum. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements of free pancakes – well worth the hunt 🙂

 

Food Bank!

Best Food to Take Home and Cook With Award:

  • Location: Basement of the Student Union Building
  • Price: FREE
  • Quality: 4/5
  • Quantity: 4/5
  • Convenience: 5/5

Judges’ Notes:

Every semester, a small portion of your student fee goes towards stocking the on-campus food bank, which provides kitchen and household essentials for financially strapped students.

Oatmeal, canned fruits and veggies, beans, quinoa, and toilet paper! Stop in to stretch your ‘food and household items’ budget and say thank you to the wonderful volunteers who keep this initiative going.

 

Section 3. Free Food Calendar

Throughout this review, it became clear to us just how many alternative food options are available, and we want to spread the word! Student living doesn’t have to be like this:

It can be more like this:

There are so many options for students; sign up for the Free Food Calendar for your weekly reminders.

Also!! If you are hosting an event on campus and have leftovers, add it to the calendar!

Sign Up: HERE
Login: freefooduvic@gmail.com
Password: EATFREE123x!

If you add an event, this will notify everyone with the calendar synced that there is free food available on campus.

Please post location and time available!

Not only does this reduce food waste, but also helps boost students’ nutrition and amps up their brain power! 😀

 

Key Takeaways

Thank you for reading! Here are a few things we learned from this tasty experiment:

  1. There are a surprising amount of free or reasonably priced foods available on campus! We encourage students to go and seek out these options beyond what is most available/accessible. These free options (e.g. the free Church dinners and Community Cabbage) also come with a sense of community and sustainability that is both kind and welcoming.
  2. The free food often tasted better than other options!
  3. These choices are also often very nutritious, which we found are essential when trying to balance our studies and stay healthy, especially during exam season.

The judges / writers (Paige and Talen) would like to thank the MyUVicLife Blog team for funding our UVic Foods experiment.

Do YOU know of more tasty foods and affordable options around campus that students need to hear about? Comment below!

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