Food, Health & Fitness Travel & Tours


Schools are the training ground for tomorrow’s leaders and builders of our nation. To feed them good food is like feeding our future. But, as students trying to make their way out of college, it’s understandable that budget can sometimes become stiff. Thankfully, budget-friendly food stalls, carinderia, and restaurants thrive outside the walls of every schools in the country. These places are also where success stories start.

For now, since we have thousands of colleges and universities in the country, we will only list the iconic food stalls around the big four schools. These places are often what students and alums would recommend you visit when you find yourself strolling along the streets of P. Noval, Area 2, Agno, and Esteban Abada. Whether you need a little break from the typical food you eat or you simply want to go into a gastronomic journey, these places will offer something that will make you come back for more.

Budget Food Trip in UP

Photo from UP Diliman website

Do you know why they plant sunflowers at the entrance of UP Diliman during graduation season? Because that’s where the brains are. Cue the zombies from Plants vs. Zombies screaming “braaaaains.” Kidding aside, The UP campus in Diliman is not only the favorite place of many for relaxation and fitness activities. It is also the go-to place for the not-so-conscious-with-diet folks.


The entire Acad Oval is filled with pop-up stalls that offer various street food selections. From fishballs to the all-time favorite Pancit Canton, you would know why almost all these stalls offer the same thing. Food trip in UP is not complete without buying any of the food offerings of the stalls around the oval.


Along the way, you would also see some vendors selling “dirty” ice cream, cheese monay, and cheese corn, the staple quick-fix of the Iskolars ng Bayan to beat the hunger. But arguably,  the main reason people go to the campus for food is Mang Larry’s Isawan in UP. Originally located in the parking area next to the UP Chapel,the famous barbecue place transferred to E. Jacinto, a few blocks away from another gastro nook, Gyud.

On the other side of UP called Area 2, a small street filled with food stalls thrive in offering different kinds of meals, refreshments, and merienda. From the famous Mango Graham fruitshakes to the silogs and bento box meals, leaving the street empty-handed is highly unlikely.  

Loyola’s Taste

Photo from ABS-CBN News

Ateneo offers an entirely different food scene compared to the laidback crowd in its Katipunan neighbor, UP. Before Pop-Up became extremely popular, when you go around the street of Esteban Abada, you would find food nooks that can be a bit intimidating for others. I mean, NINYO Fusion Cuisine & Wine Lounge is not necessarily the place you go to for random food trip unless you have the bucks to spend. So, for what it’s worth, thank you to Pop-Up for further diversifying the selections within the area.

That is not to say, however, that you would never find semi budget-friendly food stalls near Ateneo. If you have a little bit of budget, there is Tetsuo, one of the famous Japanese restaurants around the area. Try out their food and find out why it’s still the talk of the town.


Then there is El Chapo’s, a relatively cheaper option than Tetsuo, but equally as good, especially if you are a fan of Mexican food. There is also the Fil-Mex Cantina, Walrus, which could also be an option for you, if you do not mind the loud music and predominantly Gen Z crowd. It is also a beach bar, so setting your expectations may be necessary.

Aside from the places mentioned above, you may also try out “The Shake Shack of Katipunan,” Pops Beyond Better Burgers, and Four Leg Katipunan to bust your burger and wings cravings.

España’s budget delight

Photo from The Varsitarian

The streets surrounding the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas undoubtedly weathered many storms, literally and figuratively. España may be the flood catch basin of Manila, but flood is not the only thing it catches. Like mushrooms that bloom during rainy seasons, you would find eateries and food places offering delicious food that will make you crave for more. 

A little over a decade ago, the streets surrounding UST were filled with fast food chains and, ironically, drinking places. Students would often flock the Siomai vendor along Dapitan. In fact, you would find that many food stalls in the area offer Siomai. Safe to say tigers really love their Siomai.


Alums and older students will mention Dapit, Tapsi, and Mang Tootz. Younger descendants of the black, gold, and white would recommend Dimsum Treats (Juaning St.), Angkong, and Lovelite (Asturias St.). And boy, these three are probably the best places you will grow to love—except for the painfully long queue most of the time. But the fact that people do not mind lining up for at least half an hour to grab something from these three places is very telling.

So, if you find yourself driving around Manila, we highly recommend you visit Dimsum Treats or Angkong for some Chinese comfort food. Then head to Lovelite for some dessert. Mango Graham? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Taft and tender

Photo from De La Salle University Facebook page

Hail! Hail! Hail! Not to brag, but the Taft food scene is insane. There is a reason why people from the other side of the court would visit Vito Cruz for food. Before Samgyupsal became the Samgyupsal we now know, it first tried its luck in Vito Cruz. At the corner of a narrow alley along Leon Guinto, you would find a small establishment often filled with smoke — you would think the place is on fire. That place is where the now extremely successful SamgyupSalamat chain started. Yes, aside from SEX (Sinangag Express) and Ate Rica’s Bacsilog, the Samgyup culture that we Filipinos love started in that street across La Salle. Another thing to like about it? The Samgyupsalamat chain donates a portion of their profit to DLSU scholars. Now, that is how you give back to the community that helps pave the way to your success.

The street that your pocket will love.

Apart from Samgyup, because quite honestly, it is not really that affordable for students. To spend more than a hundred bucks for food is already a splurge. But luckily, you have other places to go to around Taft. Save SamgyupSalamat for celebrations instead. For your daily food consumption, the best place that offer affordable meals can be found in Agno St. You will find all sorts of food that your hundred pesos can afford. With drinks!

If UP has Mang Larry’s, La Salle also has their version of it — Noel’s BBQ! This barbecue house has been around since early 2000s and have fed students that are now thriving in their respective careers. From sports to politics, they pretty much had a bite or two of this famous barbecue in La Salle. Agno is also where you can find the original Ate Rica’s Bacsilog. Back then, it would only cost you a little under a hundred, but thanks to inflation and the continuous price increases, one order will now cost you almost 200 pesos. Nonetheless, Ate Rica’s Bacsilog is still worth a try. Who would dare say no to their iconic Cheese-Knorr sauce?

Remember Makati’s 8065 Bagnet? Yes! There was once a branch in Taft, along Leon Guinto, a few blocks from Samgyupsalamat. On a rainy weather, or if you feel like going on a senti mode, this was the best place to be. Warm Bagnet soup, senti, and music? Talk about getting lucky, eh? Sadly, the branch was closed with all business efforts diverted to their main branch in San Antonio, Makati.

Going on a budget-friendly food trip?

If you are coming from the north, we highly recommend you head to UP first before exploring the Katipunan food scene. Then from Aurora Blvd., go straight until you reach the Rotunda going España. One circle around UST, then you can take the road heading to Taft, through Recto, to get to Vito Cruz. Yes, it could be a long drive, which is why we also recommend you visit nearby Motolite outlets first to have your battery and tires checked. Without any exaggeration, it’s pretty impossible not to find one if you take the route we suggested.

But, in case you hit the no-luck zone, call the ever-reliable Motolite Express Hatid hotline or make sure you have the Motolite RES-Q app. Take a break from the long drive while you wait for their efficient staff to save the day. Motolite is not only pangmatagalan. Pagdating sa usapang pagkain, sila rin ay maaasahan. So, don’t spoil your food trip with a broken down car. Call Motolite to make sure your trip will be one for the books. 

Obviously, this “list” is only scraping the surface when it comes to budget-friendly food nooks around these big four schools. But that’s the good thing about it. There is always something to discover. So, keep exploring the most unexpected of places and find some gems that will truly make your tummy happy, as well as your pocket. Let us know when you find another place that’s worth a shoutout!



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