5 Best Restaurants for Students Near ASU Downtown (Plus One for the Parents)

We've already told you where the best student-friendly restaurants are around Arizona State University's main campus in Tempe. But don't worry, Downtown Phoenix students, we've got some suggestions for you too.

Taking classes on the Downtown Phoenix campus gives you the opportunity to explore an urban jungle and that means a whole different set of dining and drinking options than your Tempe counterparts have available. Downtown is host a bunch of great restaurants including more than one James Beard Award-winning spot and a whole bunch of places for excellent pizza. The places that make this list are great food students in that they're affordable, close to campus, and still serve solid food.

Paz Cantina

A menu of affordable and approachable Mexican food makes Paz Cantina a perfect destination for downtown Phoenix students. The restaurant offers simple, un-fussy fare including tacos, burritos, and tortas (or Mexican sandwiches) that feature ingredients such as carnitas, pork belly, and even grilled cactus. What really draws students in, however, are the restaurant's abundant deals; on Taco Tuesdays you can get $1 off all tacos, and the restaurant celebrates "Mex I Can" Mondays every week, which means $2 cans of select Mexican beers. The most well-loved deal is the restaurant's house margaritas, which cost $3 all day everyday and $2 during happy hour. 


Students have plenty of coffee houses to choose from around campus, but Jobot is one of our favorites. Not so long ago it was a little too rough around the edges for our taste, but thanks to some renovations this Roosevelt Row coffee house is now totally our scene. It offers comfortable seating and a one-of-a-kind artsy vibe, whether inside or out on the large patio. Plus you're guaranteed excellent people watching and it's open late — 24 hours a day on the weekends and until midnight during the week. There's also a menu of food to keep your brain juices flowing, including sandwiches, tacos, and their well-loved made-to-order crepes. The No. 6 is definitely our favorite; it's filled with roasted garlic herb turkey breast, mozzarella cheese, spinach, and roasted walnut pesto.

Matt's Big Breakfast

If you don't mind waiting — because there's almost always a wait at Matt's — then Matt's Big Breakfast makes the perfect stop for breakfast or lunch. This well-loved local restaurant does an All-American breakfast like no one else in town. Favorite orders including the Hog and Chick, a meal that includes your choice of bacon or sausage with eggs, toast, and a side of hashbrowns, or the Five Spot, a breakfast sandwich served on an onion roll that's layered with eggs, American cheese, bacon, and grilled onions. For lunch you'll find options including a BLT, reuben, and butter burger; all make excellent choices, though it's the fluffy scrambled eggs and peppery thick-cut bacon that have made Matt's the institution it is today. 

Bowl of Greens

Located in the bottom floor of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, this restaurant is hands down the most convenient on our list. As with most highly convenient things, however, it comes at a price. During the lunch rush you might face some long lines since students and faculty alike take advantage of Bowl of Greens' affordable lunch options. The menu is eclectic. You can order a signature salad or choose to create your own and there's also a handful of Mediterranean dishes such as falafel, baba ganaouj, and chicken and beef kebabs. Think that's weird? Well, things get even more international with the selection of pastas and other Italian-inspired fare including chicken and eggplant Parmesan. Oh and did we mention they serve smoothies?

The Vig Fillmore

The Vig has several successful locations around the Valley and it's probably because the owners are quite good at creating spaces you can't help but like. The Vig Fillmore calls a converted old house its home, which translates to a cozy vibe that's made even more appealing by the large patio. On the menu you'll find elevated bar food such as Sonoran ceviche, a smoked chicken club, and hot wings — er, "vings." It's not where you'll find the most inventive food, but it is the kind of place where even your pickiest friends can find some thing to eat. Plus the happy hour deals are quite a bargain: select appetizers are half price and cocktails are $2 off.

Take your parents to...Phoenix Public Market Cafe

Chef Aaron Chamberlin's Phoenix Public Market Cafe is a strikingly beautiful space filled with health-focused eats. The restaurant aims to be everything in one, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner while also offering coffee, a bar, and some market items. The price point may be a little high for the average student but mom and pops will appreciate the fact that there's stick-to-your ribs entrees like fried chicken right next to lighter options like roasted cauliflower — plus, much of the produce is sourced locally, in some cases from the adjacent bi-weekly farmers market.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria