Forget Starbucks, learn where the best coffee on campus can be found
My stomach growled as a first year with an empty stomach, tight wallet, and too many choices to choose from. I didn’t want to compromise. I wanted to find the best UVic had to offer but I didn’t recognize any of the café names. After four years of hunting high and low for the best coffee and food on campus, I found my absolute favourites.
I still remember walking into the dining hall (now known as the MOD) as a first-year student with a limited food card and an unlimited appetite. I was on the hunt for the greatest amount of food I could get for the least amount of money. I quickly realized the MOD’s best was few in numbers. The breakfast sandwich was my favourite, with freshly cracked eggs made right in front of you. It was quick, easy, and cheap. The regular burgers, chicken wrap, and grill section was okay for a while but it got old fast; it was processed, cheap, and it was turning me into a zombie.
The zombie feeling turned me to coffee, which led me to discover Biblio and later Munchie Bar. The drip coffee around campus at places like the library, like at the MOD, are mediocre at best. It’s convenient and semi-cheap but it’s nothing to write home about. Although, the library does make good espresso; I particularly like their lattes if I need a quick fix. Munchie Bar uses a B.C. based company, Kicking Horse Coffee, beans and it is far superior to anything else I’ve had on campus. The staff is always so friendly and they have opened me up to a world of teas that I never would have tried without their suggestions.
Somewhere near midterm season of first year, I decided to scavenge for a healthier and cheaper option on campus. I was delighted to find the vegan chili. It isn’t very spicy but it’s very flavourful. The thing I most appreciated about it was that it always left me feeling full. You can find it at multiple locations on campus but Mystic is always reliable for it.
Mystic Market would become my second home for the next few years. It’s a slight upgrade from the MOD that comes with higher prices, but the food is well worth it. My favourites are the green curry, breakfast sandwich, and pizza. From BBQ chicken to perogie pizza, there is something for everyone. I’ve been to Italy and had the best Rome had to offer but I can say that Mystic is still some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. It’s the perfect balance of dough, toppings, and sauce. It’s no thin crust type of pizza either —it’s a deep dish — and it leaves you feeling full.
The campus watering-hole, Felicitas, became a safe haven for my friends and I. Our first introduction to Fels was through a memorable night of drunken karaoke. We had such a good time that we kept coming back even when there wasn’t karaoke. We quickly found out that the food was more or less the same as the MOD, but with a few more bells and whistles. I would stick to what Fels’ does best: the drinks.
The rest of the SUB offers good alternatives to Mystic Market and it is all fairly priced. There is a health food section, the Health Food Bar, that offers great alternatives to the greasier food that dominates campus.
It wasn’t until my second year that I found the best place to eat on campus though, which is the Grad House Restaurant. I found it by coincidence as a friend suggested it when Felicitas didn’t have any free tables. It isn’t restricted to only graduate students, although they do receive a discount.
As soon as you walk in, you can tell you’re in a nice restaurant. With open ceilings and a chic layout, the ambiance alone is worth a visit. Their food is more interesting than anything Felicitas will offer but with the upgrade in quality comes an increase in price. And it is a sit down restaurant so don’t expect anything quick if you’re tight for time.
To the first years discovering campus’ culinary delights and disgusts, enjoy it. You’ll either be glad you tried something new or be thankful for your parent’s cooking all that much more. Make sure you wander around on campus because that’s the best way to stumble upon something that you never knew was there.