When coming to the states, food is something to look forward to. From famous fast-food franchises to world-renowned restaurants, there is just so much to eat and experience food that is not available back in Singapore.
International House Food
For those of us who took the advice of the school and stayed at International House (I-house) for the summer sessions, we were greeted with a feast for all our meals. Of the 55 days we spent there, we were given 80 meal credits to eat at their dining hall. I found that 80 was the perfect number of meal credits. It was not too much where we will get sick of the food and still have the opportunity to try other food around the area. It is also not too little where some of us even had additional meal credits remaining. We were also allowed to bring in our friends using our meal credits.
The food at I-house was all-you-can-eat style, with a salad bar and drink fountain. Aside from breakfast, each meal was prepared based on the menu from different countries and cultures all over the world. I was told by my friends and family before leaving that I was going to miss the Asian food back in Singapore, but because of the weekly Asian cuisine provided there in I-house, I would beg to differ.
Food around Berkeley
As for those who did not get the opportunity to stay and dine at the international house, there was still plenty of food that was available here at Berkeley.
Around the perimeter of the university campus, there is a wide variety of food available. Whether it’s fast food or restaurant, vegetarian or just meat, early morning munch to supper bites, and even beverage and bubble tea shops. You will surely be able to find something that fills your belly or satisfy your cravings.
Durant Ave and Telegraph Ave, which are right next to the campus center are lined with rows of food from all types of cuisine which you can grab a quick bite from between classes. On days when you have more time, you may opt to take a bus down nearer to Berkeley pier or even San Francisco where you can find other variety of food.
Despite the large variety of delicious food available at Berkeley, the price of food is its downside. If you are planning to have a meal at any restaurant, be prepared to spend 20 USD on average (after 10.25% tax and 15% tips). This price is a steep jump from what we are used to here in Singapore. However, we can expect much larger portions and a more generous serving of meat, to the extent that 2 people can share a meal.
Here are some tricks that allowed us to enjoy most of the food here in the states, without bursting our budget.
Fast Food: Forget about McDonald’s (which was probably the worst fast food here). Here in the States, you can see fast food everywhere. From chains like In-and-Out, Chick-Fil-A, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Jack in the Box and the list goes on. You can easily find meals that can fill up your belly for 10 USD or less. What’s more is that you can dine in at these fast-food places which are unavailable in Singapore, without having to pay a tip.
Additional fast-food tip, most fast-food places have drink fountains so its free flow drinks. You can also ask for a water cup for free if you do not plan to get any drinks.
Snackpass: Snackpass is a mobile application which is famous app among college students. This app allows users to pre-order Takeout at restaurants, without any menu markups or added fees. On top of that, this app encourages ordering together with your friends. When 4 people place an order together, they can receive additional discounts (usually around 20%). Which makes the food more affordable. You are also able to send your friends gift points to your friends every time you place an order which can be used to redeem free food or additional discounts.
Self-Prep Meals: Groceries in the states are more affordable and even cheaper when compared to Singapore. The meat, vegetables, and fruits are also fresh. Around the university campus, there are some supermarkets which are a short bus ride or a 15–20 minute walk away. I recommend this supermarket, Safeway. Be sure to register for their free membership using your email/US mobile number to receive special members discount on some items.
There is also a supermarket called Trader Joe’s located just a 10-minute walk from the Berkeley campus. They too sell affordable food, ready-made meals, unique seasoning, and many interesting snacks that can meet your guilty pleasures which you can’t find in Singapore.
Food recommendations: Listed below are some places we recommend trying out, but of course, we can’t possibly list down everything. However, do go about and explore and try new food, almost all the food here are really good and filling.
- Artichokes Pizza (Good large, portioned pizza)
- Cheeseboard Pizza (Best pizza in Berkeley)
- Gypsy’s trattoria Italiana (Good affordable pasta/calzone)
- A+ burger (Must try burger)
- The Smokehouse (Good affordable burger)
- Super Duper (Good but less affordable burger)
- Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen (Unique Louisiana restaurant)
- Taco Bell (Affordable place to get a filling meal(combo meals) or a quick bite($2 Burritos))
- In-And-Out Burger (Be sure to try their animal-style burger/fries or their secret menu items)
- Chick-fil-A (Awesome sauce to go with their good chicken burger/nuggets, do try their shakes too)
- Jack In A Box (Get the bang for your buck “Munchie meal” (burger, straight curly fries, 2 tacos, and drink) only available after 8 pm)
- Wendy’s ($5 Biggie Bag (Burger, drinks, fries, and nuggets) or their Frosty Dessert)
- Denny’s / IHOP (An American all-day breakfast diner and their pancakes)
- Raleigh’s Pub, ($2 tacos on Taco Tuesday, must be 21+ to enter)