Learning the better eats of the streets in the U-District might not be a priority during one’s initial college experience. That is, until “grabbing Pags” (Pagliacci’s) for every meal gets tiring, relying on the District Market (DM) in Alder for overpriced snacks (more pizza rolls and jojo’s, anybody?), and somehow ending up at everyone’s beloved Aladdin’s Gyro-cery & Deli too many nights a week.

Sooner or later, students have to look beyond their meal plans and what the UW provides. The U-District is a representation of some of Seattle’s best characteristics when it comes to all the opportunities to eat and eat well. For a fast-growing city that's saturated with food options, the U-District has maintained its heritage and classic stops while making room for more unique offerings. Contemporary hip cafes are slated next to decades-old restaurants and well-loved hole-in-the-wall joints that lines of people will endure the rain for. Healthy food and meals under $10 still exist here, despite rapid development and increasing expenses in the local area.

If one thinks they have conquered the all options of The Ave, think again. While The Ave embraces its original staples, it is also constantly delivering new and inventive opportunities to chow down. Take Ku and Izakaya Sushi, which entered the scene in 2015 on the outskirts of The Ave near Northeast 52nd Street. A self-described “compact, late-night bar & eatery providing beer, sake, soju & a variety of Japanese & Korean dishes,” Ku brings packs of people most nights to enjoy good food and good vibes. The real deal though, is their grand opening special of 50 percent off all its sushi rolls until the kitchen closes at 10 p.m. every day.

“The proportions of comfort food there are pretty generous,” Kimi Rutledge, a local food Instagram connoisseur and senior at the UW, said. “You get a small, cozy dinner spot with lots of options. It’s one of the places open really late night so it’s college student friendly, and satisfies your otherwise way-too-expensive to maintain sushi cravings.”

There is so much more to food in the U-District, and by opening up your choices to more culturally-niche options makes eating well even more feasible and much more exciting.

For the more adventurous folks who dare venture into the practical and spiritually rewarding world of meal prepping, seasoned apartment-cook and senior Thu Nguyen had some clear-cut advice.

“The biggest thing is to keep it simple and make food that you actually enjoy eating,” Nguyen said. “It’s really important to plan ahead and make a list of what you need to get at the store so you, one, don’t waste time wandering around browsing, and two, budget your money.”

One stop that is highly recommended is the U-District’s Trader Joe’s which offers affordable fresh groceries, unique meals that incorporate cultural staples, and ingredients that get you inspired to shake things up.

“I find that meal prepping gets boring if you make the same thing for six days so you need variety and need to change it up every once in a while,” Nguyen said. “I love incorporating TJ’s dips, mainly hummus … It’s super easy and yummy to eat with pita chips, carrots, cucumbers, and I love me a good cheddar cheese puff popcorn from Trader Joe’s!”

Another wholesome option to look out for is the weekend farmers market on the north end of The Ave, every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. between Northeast 50th and 52nd Streets.

Not necessarily beholden to a budget but still want to get a good deal? Look no further than the somehow largely unknown UW Survival Kit, a coupon book exclusive to the university community that partners with local businesses to support local non-profit university groups and campus organizations.

Students can get a free printed copy of the UW Survival Kit coupon book at the University Book Store or through the app store under “Student Survival Kit Coupons” by College Coupons. It is constantly updated, and there is no limit on how many times you can use a coupon over time.

“It saves you money,” Francis Kwon, a junior who works at By George Cafe, said. “If you love getting stuff for free or at a discount, then use the UW Survival Kit for discounts on things that you buy every day.”

While the coupon book’s star and more sustainable coupons are at restaurants, there are a lot of other uses for it too.

“Specific to BG [By George Cafe], we have 50 percent off coupons for single items that can be used for just about anything. Candy, chips, snacks, drinks, all for half price,” Kwon said.

So why are you still paying what you are at the DM?

Reach contributing writer Abby Huang at development@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @abbylhuang_

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