When you come from a town that doesn't even have a Chipotle, UCF's food scene is like discovering another planet. Just driving down University Boulevard for the first time can make any foodie's heart skip a beat. Add that to the fact that I was living in a kitchen-less dorm, and you get a freshman me spending all my (parent's) money on eating out. Fast forward three years later, and I'd like to think I'm a bit of an expert when it comes to eating around UCF.
Here's a guide to some of the greatest places to eat around UCF, all less than five miles from campus:
1.You have munchies at 2am: WaWa
Listen up kiddos — Wawa may be a gas station, but first and foremost it’s a food haven for college students. Not only is it one of the only 24-hour places around UCF, but it offers a variety of food, and it’s cheap. Also, Wawa is exclusive to a few states on the East Coast, so yeah, it’s kind of a big deal around here.
What to Order: Customize a turkey sub or a beef quesadilla, ringing in at about $4-6. If you are a pesto lover, ask for the sun-dried tomato pesto on the side as a dipping sauce — you will not regret itLocation: Literally everywhere. But here’s the closest one to campus: 11750 University Blvd, Orlando, FL 32817
2. You need to grab lunch for under $10 between classes: Lucky's Market
Lucky’s changed my life, and I am a better person because of it. This new-to-UCF shop is a combo of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. You can grab a cup of coffee and one of their pre-made meals for under $10, or create your own sandwich for $5.99. They even offer specials on certain days like 2 slices of pizza for $2—so be sure to sign up for their e-mail promotions.
What to Order: Pick up a Salmon Detox Salad, you won’t even know it’s healthy it tastes so great
Location: 11750 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32817
3. You’re sick of Dunkin' Donuts: Vespr
Don’t get me wrong, I live at Dunkin Donuts (the baristas and I are on a first name basis), but on a rainy day when I have a bunch of homework to do, I like to hit up Vespr. Located in Waterford, this quaint coffee shop is straight out of an Instagram pic. Plus, their to-go cups are made from plants and are compostable, so you can drink coffee and feel a little better about the environment.
What to Order: Try their Butterscotch Latte, a popular drink that's $4.75. It may be a little pricey, but let's be honest, the foam latte art is worth the extra dollar.
Location: 626 N Alafaya Trail #105, Orlando, FL 32828
4. You’re Craving Mexican Food: Azteca D'Oro
There are a lot of Mexican food options around UCF, so why does Azteca take the cake? They’re authentic and insanely scrumptious. I practically lived here my freshman year, and don’t regret one second of stuffing enchiladas and burritos down my throat. The portion sizes are [Donald Trump voice] "Uuuuuuuuuge" so either share with a friend, or be prepared for leftover heaven.
What to order: Enchiladas a la Crema are cheesy goodness— order them with refried beans and Mexican rice for $10.99.
Location: 11633 University Blvd, Orlando, FL 32817
5. You’re trying to be healthy: Designer Greens
Being healthy is hard in college, but once you try Designer Greens, you’ll crave one of their salads instead of a burger and fries. You have the option of ordering a salad or sandwich, but like Hannah Montana, I want the best of both worlds, so I pick two. The portion sizes are perfect, so for you skeptical salad folks trust me when I say you’ll be full.
What to order: Turkey Pesto sandwich and Mexicali salad for $8.99.
Location: 464 N Alafaya Trail, Orlando, FL 32828
5. When you’re “doing it for the Insta:” The Pop Parlour
Founded by a UCF graduate, The Pop Parlour creates gourmet popsicles with local, all-natural, and organic ingredients. Pop Parlour has created over 100 different flavors, and continually rotates them. So basically you have a reason to be there every week. Alcoholic popsicles are also part of the menu, so if you’re over 21 grab one on game day before heading to Memory Mall.
What to order: The Cookie Butter Popsicle is to die for. Order it dipped in chocolate for $1 extra.
Location: 12787 E Plaza Dr, Orlando, FL 32816
6. When you’re craving Mediterranean: Hummus House
So you’re studying for finals, and wishing you were in Santorini, Greece instead? Same. While we can’t jet set to the Mediterranean, Hummus House has done a pretty good job at bringing it to UCF. You can create your own pita, rice bowl, or salad, with your choice of protein, toppings, and hummus. Make sure to get there before the lunch rush, or order ahead and pick it up curbside.
What to order: You can’t go wrong with falafel and some guacamole hummus.
Location: 11565 University Blvd Suite 4, Orlando, FL 32817
7. You’re hungover: 4 Rivers
Lets take a moment to say thank you to the BBQ Gods for bringing UCF a 4 Rivers. This Florida-exclusive restaurant boasts savory brisket and long lines come lunchtime. You’ll definitely run into familiar faces here, but everyone is scarfing down BBQ sauce by the gallon so it’s a no-judgment zone. Just remember, they’re closed on Sundays so plan accordingly.
What to order: The BBQ Quesadilla with burnt ends will make your taste buds cry tears of happiness. For sides, try the corn and mac and cheese.
Location: 11764 University Blvd, Orlando, FL 32817
8. You turn 21: Bar Louie
Located conveniently across from Pub and Stagger Inn, Bar Louie is where you eat a sophisticated dinner while drinking a few (or 5) martinis on your 21st. This is the ultimate spot to take pictures with your squad, and suit up for the night ahead. Make sure to sign up for their text promotions for free food all the time.
#SpoonTip: If you go for happy hour from 4-7pm, it’s half off select apps and flatbreads along with $5.25 martinis and other alcohol deals.
What to order: The Clover martini, made with Hennessy so you can turn your birthday into a lifestyle.
Location: Plaza on University, 4100 N Alafaya, Suite 167 & 173, Orlando, FL 32826
9. You’re craving a slice: Lazy Moon
If you do anything before you graduate from UCF, make sure it’s eating a slice of pizza from Lazy Moon. Slices the size of your face coupled with a chill ambiance makes for a perfect Sunday pizza break. Like the mission of the restaurant states: “eat, drink, and be lazy.”
What to order: If you want cheap order a Boxcar Willy, which is a slice and pint of PBR at $4.75 ('cause pizza and beer, #amiright?).
If you want to try a fan favorite: Jason’s Mom’s Slice at $7.25.
Location: 11551 University Blvd, Orlando, FL 32817
10. Want to check out live music: Jimmy Hula's
Home to the best fish tacos around, Jimmy Hula’s is a California surfer dude in restaurant form. The indoor/outdoor seating, seaside surf décor, and laidback vibe is the perfect place to bring your dog, crack open a Kona Longboard, and listen to live music. While they haven’t set a for sure date, Jimmy Hula's usually provides live music Friday and Sunday from 1-3pm.
What to order: Tacos range from about $3-6 depending on which you order. I recommend splitting zucchini fries for the table, followed by a Johnny Utah taco.
Jimmy Hula’s: 11556 University Blvd, Orlando, FL 32817
11. Craving something sweet: Insomnia Cookies
Fresh, warm, melt-in-your mouth cookies and ice-cold milk. Need I say more? I can see you drooling on your laptop. Insomnia offers cookies à la carte, ‘wiches (cookie ice cream sandwiches), packages of cookies, cookie cakes, and even bulk cookies for when you and your squad meet up with another squad and want to roll deep with some cookies.
What to order: Honestly, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but I suggest an M&M cookiewich with birthday cake ice cream.
Location: 12101 University Blvd #225, Orlando, FL 32817
12. You’re trying to be romantic: Cooper's Hawk
Whether it’s your two-year anniversary with your beau or it's Galentine's day and you and your pals want to eat a nice dinner, Cooper’s Hawk is a no brainer. Just be prepared to spend a little dough—wine and ribs aren’t exactly cheap.
What to order: Short Rib Risotto, just do it.
Location: 529 N Alafaya Trail, Orlando, FL 32828