Congratulations! You’ve got a place to study at one of Bath’s brilliant universities, and that means you get to live in this totally amazing city. Okay, so it might not have quite as many options for nights out (don’t worry – it’s fun because you’ll always see people you know in the clubs Bath does have, and you can always nip over to Bristol if you fancy a change) but what it does have is absolutely loads of great places to eat and drink. While you might be tempted to head to MacDonalds or Nandos (and I don’t blame you – sometimes you’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do) Bath is also full of small independently-owned bars, cafes and restaurants. They’re part of what makes the city awesome and definitely worth checking out. Of course, some of them are for fancy occasions only, but you’d be surprised how many are totally friendly to a student budget. Here’s my quick guide to three of the best independent places to eat lunch for less than £5, and four of the best independent places to eat dinner for less than £10. What more could you want?
LUNCH FOR LESS THAN £5
Whole Bagel, 8 Upper Borough Walls
Forget supermarket sandwiches, this is the ultimate place to get your carbs on when you need lunch in a hurry. You can choose from seven different types of bagel, all freshly baked on the premises, and fill them with a huge range of amazing fillings from the traditional (Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese, my favourite) to their regular specials. Get lunch here from just £2 for one of their legendary pizza bagels, and keep an eye on their Twitter (@WholeBagel) for great limited time offers too.
Chai Walla, Kingsmead Square
This is a teeny tiny takeaway that has a huge following amongst the locals. Owner Niraj serves up a menu of fantastic Indian street food, all vegetarian and sometimes vegan too, from the most amazing bhajis and samosas to wraps and curries (I especially recommend the samosa chaat, which is an amazing chana daal with a whole samosa mashed into it). Prices start from just a couple of pounds, which is incredible value for how much food you get.
Comins Teahouse, 34 Monmouth St
This gorgeous café serves a huge range of special loose-leaf teas, which are really worth checking out, but it also has a great lunch menu, which includes Chinese gyoza and Indian momo dumplings for around £4 (pictured above), as well as some delicious breakfast options from just £2.25. If you fancy something a bit different, this is the perfect place.
DINNER FOR LESS THAN £10
Schwartz Bros Burgers, 4 Saw Close/102 Walcot St
Schwartz Bros is a Bath institution – in 2017 they’ll be celebrating an incredible forty years in business. They sell the city’s best burgers, with all the trimmings you could possibly want, and are open until 3am on the weekends in their Saw Close location, so they’re also the only choice for late night munchies. Burgers start from less than £6 and they also do some great sides.
The Real Italian Pizza Company, 16 York St
Bath has some seriously good options for pizza, so it’s hard to pick a favourite, but this is definitely one of mine. The bases are thin and crispy, the toppings are generous, and pizzas and calzones start from just £7.95 so it’s really affordable. I especially recommend the Milanese – pictured above. The Real Italian Pizza Co also have an ‘accept any voucher’ policy, so if you can track down a good offer from another pizza company then you can use their deals here.
Yen Sushi, 11-12 Barlett St
You might not think to go for sushi when you’re on a budget, but this is a ‘kaiten’ restaurant, which is the technical term for the cool conveyor belts full of delicious dishes, so you can pick whatever you fancy and know how much it costs from the colour of the bowl. Dishes at Yen Sushi start from around £2 each and you only need a few, so this can be a seriously good bargain.
Bath Brew House, 14 James St West
This is one of my favourite Bath pubs – as well as their own in-house brewery, they sell loads of great independent beers, and they have a fantastic food menu to boot. Try one of their amazing baps for £6 (I recommend the fish finger butty) and add soup, salad or fries for just £1.50, to make a seriously hearty meal. Check out their incredible regular pub quiz too.
And finally: we need to talk about coffee. I know Starbucks is right by the bus stop, and I know it’s cool to carry a Starbucks cup. But Bath is absolutely rammed with amazing independent coffee shops and not only is their coffee better, it’s actually cheaper too. For properly good coffee, check out Society Café (also right near the bus stop, for maximum morning convenience), Hunter & Sons, Colonna & Smalls, Cascara (who also make awesome juices & smoothies) and Picnic Coffee among many, many others. With all these options it would be a crime to settle for the same old Costa & Café Nero.