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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Senior Mag 2024: The best places to go off-campus to at lunch

Main entrance of Ulavacharu Tiffins
Main entrance of Ulavacharu Tiffins


It’s 12:25 on a Blue Day, and you are hungry — where do you go? With only 35 minutes to spare, time is of the essence. But, as one of the school’s true professional eaters, I have three places for non-seniors to consider as they eat off campus next year.

No. 1, can’t-miss option: La Cueva

Yes, it seems everyone knows about La Cueva — it’s a popular off-campus spot for upperclassmen, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth mentioning as perhaps the best places to get lunch as a student here. As I once profoundly said in my 2022 Falcon article, “The immaculate flavors blow my mind every time.”

There’s a reason it’s a staple in the Saratoga community. Conveniently located near McDonald’s in Westgate Mall, it’s extremely easy to get to and the extensive menu lets me try something different every time. The under 10-minute drive means that if you order ahead of time, there’s even enough time to eat at the restaurant. Something common at other Mexican restaurants is the lack of vegetarian options, but La Cueva doesn’t disappoint here either with $7 cheese quesadillas and extensive options for  tacos. My personal favorite is the super veggie taco at $2.25 each. Most fast food places in the area have a serious lack of vegetarian food, so La Cueva is a mecca for them. The prices are reasonable, the food is great, it’s not too far away; it’s THE off-campus lunch spot.

No. 2: Chicken Meets Rice

Now here’s where I get to the good stuff. Chicken Meets Rice, or CMR as my friends and I like to call it, excels in one specific category: chicken (who would have guessed?). It’s just a 12-minute drive down De-Anza in the Ranch 99 complex so you won’t be late if you leave at the start of lunch. Unfortunately, there is usually not enough time to eat there and return on time, but it still tastes just as good either way. The staple of the menu is a box composed of the protein of your choice (I recommend fried chicken or tofu if you are vegetarian), rice, assorted vegetables and two sauces. The chicken is crispy yet perfectly soft on the inside.

Above all, CMR really stands out with its incredible sauces. It offers an immense variety of sauces to choose from and I have yet to taste a bad sauce on their menu. My personal favorites are the Thai ginger soy and the sweet chili. The sweet and savory combo dances upon your tongue and combines for an incredible flavor profile. If you are as voracious of an eater as I am, I would also highly recommend paying for the extra protein.

No. 3: Ulavacharu Tiffins

I reckon most of you have never heard of this restaurant. And that’s probably because it opened up less than 2 months ago and is not the traditional high school lunch spot. In fact, it is the exact opposite. It’s a South Indian sit-down restaurant that prides itself on its incredible dosas. It’s nestled next very close to Fitness 19 just outside of Westgate Mall, only a 10-minute drive from campus. I know what you are thinking: “Why would I go to a sit-down restaurant during lunch, I’m not going to make it back to class!” To that, I say, “womp womp.”

While it may be a sit-down restaurant, the service is lightning quick and you can most likely be out of there in 30-40 minutes. Yes, that might make you a bit late to your next class, but I am here to say being slightly tardy is worth it in this case.

The dosas can only be described as a delicacy and the accompanying sambar and chutneys are some of the best I have ever had. In addition, per person, it almost always ends up being cheaper, or just slightly more than most fast-food restaurants.

Note to non-seniors: If you are like me and deeply care about the food that goes into your body, I highly recommend checking out any of these three places as you start going off campus to eat in future years.

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