Exploring San Antonio's diverse dining options on a college budget

Whether you want to treat yourself after acing an exam, impress a Tinder match or explore the city's food scene, try some of these beloved SA dining spots.

click to enlarge North-of-downtown Asian cafe Ming's offers a casual atmosphere to unwind and enjoy a good meal. - Instagram / mingsthing
Instagram / mingsthing
North-of-downtown Asian cafe Ming's offers a casual atmosphere to unwind and enjoy a good meal.

Everyone's feeling the effects of rising prices. And college students, already expected to microwave and otherwise penny-pinch their way through meals, are no exception.

Fortunately, if you're a student who just can't do another cup of dorm room ramen, San Antonio does have plenty of amazing restaurants that won't break your bank. Whether you want to treat yourself after acing an exam, impress a Tinder match or explore the city's food scene, try some of these beloved SA dining spots.

Smoke Shack

With snacks, sandwiches, sliders and a plethora of sides to choose from, San Antonio barbecue fixture Smoke Shack offers a truly South Texas taste of smoked and tender meats, all with a great bang for your brisket — oops, buck. 3714 Broadway, (210) 957-1430, smokeshacksa.com.

Pizza Classics

Nestled between Trinity University, the University of the Incarnate Word and San Antonio College, Pizza Classics not only serves up some of the best slices in San Antonio but also some of the best prices. Buy-one, get-one-free deals are worked directly into its pricing, and the by-the-slice options are hard to beat. Beyond that, Pizza Classics' late hours and casual atmosphere make this a great place to eat after a night out. 3440 N. St. Mary's St., (210) 225-3356, pizzaclassics.com.

Ming's

With its creative Chinese dishes and reasonable prices, north-of-downtown Asian cafe Ming's offers a casual atmosphere to unwind and enjoy a good meal. It also wins points for quick service, which makes it a perfect grab-and-go option before a study session. 914 E. Elmira St., (210) 600-4083, mingsthing.com.

Singhs Vietnamese

Boasting a vibrant atmosphere and classic tunes spinning on vinyl, this beloved Vietnamese restaurant on the St. Mary's Strip is a great place to visit with friends after a long week of classes or before a night at the clubs. The prices have gone up over the past couple years, but its fresh ingredients, Texas-influenced flavors and generous portions provide plenty of value. 2803 N. St. Mary's St., toasttab.com/singhs/v3.

Fat Tummy Empanadas

This Argentinian spot offers a great assortment of breakfast and lunch options, including its namesake stuffed pastries that come with hearty fillings ranging from traditional beef to spinach and cheese. At $4.30 a pop, these are snacks that eat like a meal. The restaurant is a 15-minute walk or five-minute drive from Our Lady of the Lake University. 2922 W. Commerce St., (210) 396-7288, fattummyempanadassa.com.

Noodle Tree

You've probably eaten so much microwaveable instant ramen that you never want to see the stuff again. How about trying the real thing? Noodle Tree serves some of the best ramen dishes in the city. While it's pricier than the packaged stuff, at $10-$16 for a complete and hearty meal, it's an affordable treat. Bonus: it's located near UTSA's main campus. 7114 UTSA Blvd., (210) 233-6371, noodletreetx.com.

Curry Boys

This pink shack on the St. Mary's Strip slings some of the best fusion dishes in San Antonio — and at an affordable price. For just under $15 you can taste a mashup of flavors from the folks behind Viet-Cajun spot Pinch Boil House and the smoked-meat masters at South BBQ & Kitchen. 2334 N. St. Mary's St., (210) 320-0555, curryboysbbq.com.

Con Huevos

If you're looking to introduce out-of-towners to San Antonio, few places embody the city's Tex-Mex take on breakfast better than East Side joint Con Huevos. Its filling and creative specialty tacos — such as its scrambled egg in salsa verde with Oaxaca cheese, avocado and cilantro — run just under $4, while more standard options like bean and cheese are priced comparably to other taquerias. 1629 E. Houston St., (210) 229-9295, conhuevostacos.com.

Carnitas Lonja/Fish Lonja

Locally and nationally renowned as masters of their craft, adjoining eateries Carnitas Lonja and Fish Lonja haven't let all that attention pressure them into raising prices. And they've recently restarted their individual-ordering option, which means students dining solo can grab a couple of the best tacos in the city without breaking the bank. 1107 Roosevelt Ave., (210) 455-2105, carnitaslonja.com.

The Cove

Offering free live music most nights, a vibrant patio space and located near Trinity University, the University of the Incarnate Word and San Antonio College, The Cove makes a great place for a meal out with your friends. While this spot isn't taqueria-cheap, its incredible fish tacos and other dishes incorporate quality, locally sourced ingredients, making them worth a slightly higher price tag. Beyond that, there's a full bar and vegans can delight in one of the city's best meatless burgers. 606 W. Cypress St., (210) 227-2683, thecove.us.

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