Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you have to eat bad food.
Republic/azcentral.com restaurant critic Howard Seftel recommends these five places for Arizona State University students taking classes or living at the downtown campus.
Matt’s Big Breakfast
You can’t think deep college thoughts on an empty stomach. Matt’s helps you start the day right, with everything from cage-free eggs and pancakes with real maple syrup to the best bacon, sausages and off-thebone ham you may ever eat. Just make sure you have plenty of time or go at off times. There’s usually a line out front.
Details: 801 N. First St., Phoenix, 602-254-1074, mattsbigbreakfast.com.
Need an island getaway? You can almost feel the tropical breezes at this cute Jamaican spot. Look for homeland specialties like plantain avocado spring rolls, tilapia empanadas, curried chicken and dumplings, jerk chicken and sweet potato pudding.
Details: 108 E. Pierce St., Phoenix. 602-267-1266, thebreadfruit.com.
The exotic scents and flavors of Thailand make it easy to take your mind off the student grind. And somehow it’s easier to pick up the books after a refreshing break for papaya salad, Thai barbecue chicken, pork panang curry and pad Thai.
Details: 20 W. Adams St., Phoenix, 602-252-3873, thaielephantaz.com.
The menu is small at this shiny new Mexican restaurant, but everything on it is first rate. It starts with the tortillas, made from scratch on the premises. It continues with green chile pork, shredded beef tacos, red chile chilaquiles and oregano-lime rotisserie chicken.
Details: 825 N. First St., Phoenix, 602-254-4400.
The Roosevelt Tavern
You’ve taken the test. You’ve turned in the paper. Now it’s time to unwind at this cheerful place. Along with craft beers and boutique wines, you’ll find comfy fare like campfire franks and beans, deviled eggs and the wonderful tomato soup/grilled cheese combo.
Details: 816 N. Third St., Phoenix. 602-254-2561.