HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


Good Eats for College Students in Irvine?

I just recently moved to Irvine California from Los Angeles and am looking for good healthy food that is resonably priced since college is enough money on its own! I do have a car so I can drive out of town if the restaurant is too spectacular to pass up. Let me know, thank you!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. When I went to UCI (1991-1995), my mainstays for food were In N Out, Alberto's, Del Taco. Now you've got the Lee's Sandwiches, which is somewhat healthy. Drive up Culver to Irvine Ctr Drive and there's a great cheap eats place, Sam Woo restaurant (not the nice side, the other side where the meat and chickens are hanging from hooks).

    On the far side of UCI is a Panera bread place, I guess that's healthy for ya. And if you feel like chowing down, you can't go wrong with either Souplantation (Main St east of Jamboree) or Seoul Garden Korean BBQ (way up in Tustin, on Redhill just north of the 5) for some great all you can eat.

    1. There are tons of good, cheap eats in Irvine - esp. if you like Asian food. Try S&W or the korean tofu restaurant on Walnut and Jeffrey in the 99 Ranch mini mall. There's also Seafood Noodle Restaurant and the korean restaurant that used to be BCD Tofu on Culver, north of Walnut, near the Ralph's and Sav On. If you like "Hawaiian" food, try L&L which is also in the same area as the Seafood Noodle Restaurant.

      1. also, iirc, there's a Gina's Pizza and Pastaria in the Albertson's center, Campus and California. On Monday nights I believe they do all you can eat spaghetti for $5.95 which would be worth checking out.

        1. Tenko Teriyaki on Culver and Michelson. Good place for the college crowd: edible food, a little bit of variety, various plates/bento boxes, and big portions for $5-7

          1. if it turns out you're too poor to even try these offerings, there's a trader joes in the uci marketplace. this place has come a long way since i went to uci. the uci marketplace has all kinds of decent lunch places now from kebabs to (crappy) sushi to banh mi and various fast food too (which can be healty, like if you do taco bell "fresco style")

            irvine used to be kind of boring but there's all kinds of things here now.

            1. Make sure you check out the Wholesome Foods grocery store at Culver and Michelson. And there's a TenRen Tea house somewhere in Irvine, if you need boba.

              1. Wholesome Choice is a great place. Especially for Persian take-out. Koobideh with rice is about $7.


                California Fish Grill has plates of grilled fish with really crisp fries for around $9.


                Near UCI, in the Albertson's plaza, is Stricklands. Awesome ice cream. But not exactly healthy...but c'mon, you gotta indulge sometime!

                STRICKLAND'S PHOTOS:

                1. And oh yeah, if you're into Korean Tofu Soup, there's three, count them, THREE, Korean Tofu Places on Culver and Walnut...all competing for your business:

                  PHOTOS of all three:

                  1. This isn't exactly a full meal but it's next to one of the Korean Tofu places that elmo mentioned above. Specifically Kaya Tofu House. It's a bakery that I've been going to for the past couple weeks called Diho Bakery. Taiwanese owned, and they bake up the best and affordable white loaves of bread ever! If you have never tried "asian" white bread, please get a loaf! For $2.50 you get a large loaf that is soft and fluffy and tastes awesome straight out of the bag! Very different from american bread. Japanese markets will sell the same type of bread for half the loaf size and almost double the price.

                    The time that I usually go in is at 9:45 am (Their opening hours say 10 am though but they've always been open before that time) and they have the present day's bread freshly baked and cooling on the racks. In addition to the fresh bread, they have yesterday's various buns and such for 50-60% off. If you want the fresh buns you'll have to wait until after 10 am. In addition to bakery products, they also sell frozen products like dumplings and wontons.

                    In between Kaya Tofu House and Diho Bakery is India Cook House, an all you can eat $8.95 indian restaurant that I've been meaning to go to as well.

                    Ok I've rambled enough...

                    Diho Bakery
                    14130 Culver Dr # J
                    Irvine, CA 92604
                    (949) 857-6415

                    1. I like Pho Bac Ky on the corner of Michelson and University.

                      1. I second the Diho Bakery motion. Their morning bao are awesome.

                        Diho Bakery Pictures:

                        Across from Diho Bakery is Curry House, the place for Japanese curry in Irvine:

                        If you like Taiwanese Cafe-style food, I highly recommend the Red Onion Cafe:

                        On the border of what's affordable for college students is Frenzy Sushi, which is the best sushi restaurant within 15 minutes of UCI:

                        - Chubbypanda


                        1. check out Gypsy Den and Native Foods in Costa Mesa -- they're on Baker, just off Bristol, about 10 min from UCI off the 73 or the 55. Gypsy Den is also a good place to read and meet other UCIers. For a sushi splurge, try Sushi Shibucho in Costa Mesa on 19th, right next to In'n'out -- I always find them to be cheaper than Frenzy Sushi. On the same block is Taco Mesa (good, cheap mexican) and on the corner of 19th and Monrovia (near Detroit bar) is another great taco place (whose name escapes me)

                          1. some healthy places to try in irvine, so you can save some petrol!
                            the veggie grill
                            -"classic american with an exotic twist"

                            the wheel of life
                            - veggie thai

                            organic to go
                            -organic, natural foods

                            a short hop away:
                            native foods, costa mesa
                            -vegan fast food

                            naked apples, laguna beach
                            -organic, raw

                            au lac
                            -asian vegetarian, vegan and raw options

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: wowimadog

                              Wheel of Life has great stuff. IMO, the original Irvine location is better than the Huntington Beach one.

                              - Chubbypanda


                            2. Try The Stand in Laguna Beach -- it's just off PCH, next to the Laguna Cyclery on Thalia -- it's vegetarian and has great sandwiches, burritos, soups. Try the guacamole and hummos sandwich and the tortilla soup.

                              1. Pacific Whey Cafe. Great breakfast and bakery in Irvine. www.pacificwhey.com
                                I used to eat at Mothers Market in the back patio for breakfast or lunch in Costa Mesa on 17th.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: cls

                                  There's a new Pacific Whey opening up in South Coast Plaza's Crystal Cove annex. Can't wait to try it out.

                                  - Chubbypanda


                                2. On the corner of MacArthur and Bison (right off the 73) at the Bluffs shopping center, you have a couple good choices.

                                  Pei Wei - opened by PF Changs son, basically the same food but cheaper and a more casual environment

                                  Panera - good sandwiches and salads, a little pricey for what you get, but overall it's ok

                                  Wasa Sushi - Haven't been, but heard it's good

                                  Baja Fresh - good, cheap, healthy Cal-Mex fast food

                                  There is also and Islands, Carls Jr., Pasta Bravo, Daphne's and Quiznos

                                  Just beware going during the lunch rush, practically impossible to get a parking spot.

                                  Also my favorite pizza, Round Table, is right there on Jamboree.

                                  If you go south on MacArthur, turn left (south) onto PCH and right on the corner (facing the gas station) is Bamboo Terrace, very good!!!