Strapped for Cash and Time, Students Prefer to Bring Rather than Buy Food

Read Time:2 Minute, 55 Second

Rowan Humphries

Editor: Elizabeth Cherchia

It’s well-known that good food directly correlates to brainpower, a critical currency for busy graduate students. As students adjust to SAIS’ change of address, many have begun scoping out the new neighborhood to find the best eats on a student budget. Hungry for some tips and recommendations of my own, I set out to find out where SAIS students are fueling up between classes, meetings, and study sessions.

For those “ballin’ on a budget” like Jeffrey Gorham, a second-year MAIR student, fast-casual options near SAIS, like Chipotle, work in a pinch. “It’s a solid option that I know I’ll enjoy,” he said. Potbelly Sandwich Shop, another popular fast-casual chain, is the personal favorite of Kursat Gok, another second-year MAIR student. Just outside the Archives Metro stop, Potbelly is an affordable choice for grabbing something quick between classes, with some sandwiches starting at just under seven dollars.

The new SAIS building’s proximity to Chinatown also opens up a slew of new options. For a quick lunch, Zhen Jin, a second-year MAIR student, likes Rice Bar, which offers Korean-style bowls and rolls. Her most recent favorite spot for hanging out with friends is Founding Farmers & Distillers, a trendy DC classic just a 14-minute walk up 6th Street NW.  

For a more upscale night out with friends (or perhaps dinner with the parents), Oyamel Cocina Mexicana offers an extensive cocktail list and “creative Mexican tapas”. This writer can personally attest to the quality of their queso fundido

For those looking for a more old-school experience, there’s Washington’s premier political watering hole, the Capital Grille, mere steps from SAIS’s doors and a favorite among Congressional big-wigs. Student sources confirm the storied establishment continues to live up to its reputation for serving high-profile clientele — just earlier this month Republican Senator Ted Cruz (TX) was spotted outside taking a phone call, according to one student who wished to remain anonymous for this article. 

While many students enjoy treating themselves to a meal out once in a while, most students surveyed for this article find the cost of local options prohibitive and prefer to bring their own meals to school. The administration’s recent move to give students access to the second-floor staff pantry while they configure a more permanent solution has made home-brought meals an even more attractive option for many students with not only limited budgets, but limited time. 

For Anne-Charlotte, who brings a lunch box to school most days, bringing food from home isn’t just the cheapest and healthiest option, it’s also the quickest. She says, “I don’t really have time to go out to grab something to eat. Having a lunch box lets me eat my PB&J while working.” 

If this article left your mouth watering, here’s a list of the spots mentioned above, complete with price estimates and walking distances to plan your pre-and-post-class bites accordingly! Happy munching!

$ Chipotle 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (12-minute walk from SAIS)

$ Potbelly Sandwich Shop – 637 Indiana Ave NW (4-minute walk from SAIS)

$ Rice Bar Market Place – 801 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (6-minute walk from SAIS)

$$ Founding Farmers & Distillers – 600 Massachusetts Ave NW (14-minute walk from SAIS)

$$ Oyamel Cocina Mexicana – 401 7th St NW (6-minute walk from SAIS)

$$$ Capital Grille – 601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (2-minute walk from SAIS)

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