pparently, Tigers aren’t the only things growling in the University of Santo Tomas. Come lunchtime or any other instance after energy-draining classes and activities, hungry tummies are already roaring with a hard question: “O ano na, ‘san tayo kakain?”
Often, it’s followed by a harder, facepalm-inducing answer: “kahit saan.”
And even though many Thomasians have the convenience of dining at fast food joints in the Carpark building, there’s a great deal of food choices beyond the walls. So whether you’re a student on a tight budget or a food tripper on the hunt for another epic adventure, here are 8 picks for easy-on-the-pocket and delicious eats around USTe.

Dapitan St. / Asturias St., Sampaloc, Manila
Operating hours: 8am to 2am
Price range: 55 – 75
As the saying goes, “ang Tomasinong nagigipit, sa Siomai Rice kumakapit.” Countless stalls may have mushroomed around the university, but Dimsum Treats’ siomais come in larger (and yummier) proportions that ordering extra rice becomes inevitable. Choose from their Special Siomai, Japanese, Chinese Chicken, Quail Egg, Sharksfin, and Mushroom varieties and pair ‘em with Yang Chow fried rice for a definitely sulit meal.
Tip: Unless you’re fond of extreme spiciness to the point where your lips start swelling and you’re running to get a gallon of milk, NEVER ever say yes when they offer chili sauce on your meal. Seriously, they must have been using California Reapers for that.
981 P. Noval St., Sampaloc, Manila
Operating hours: 9am to 9pm
Price range: 100 – 200
Everything screams Kpop! the moment you step into this small resto—from the boy band and girl group posters and fan messages covering the walls, the TV airing Korean music and variety shows, to the distinct aroma of pepper paste looming in the air and clinging onto your clothes. Truthfully, almost everything off Santorini’s Korean-Japanese menu is authentic, worth every peso with the huge servings, and oh so perfect while spazzing over your bias groups and favorite K-drama series with friends.
981 P. Noval St. cor. Delos Reyes St., Sampaloc, Manila
Operating hours: 11am to 9pm
Price range: 50 – 150
#UScoop’s neon and black-and-white interior exudes a cheery and vibrant vibe, making it a favourite hangout spot for Thomasians. This ice cream parlor and restaurant serves old school sundaes, parfaits and banana splits, as well as burgers, pasta, sandwiches, and Pinoy rice meals in student-friendly prices.
But in case you need some cheering up after your grades have taken their toll in an agonizing exam, the Growling Tigers lost a game in the UAAP (bounce back, guys!), or your love life has turned out to be more bittersweet these days, it’s also a great place to melt your hell-week heartbreaks away.
1229 V. Concepcion St. / 965 P. Noval St., Sampaloc, Manila
Operating hours: 9am to 9pm
Price range: 75 – 150
Whenever you’re feeling a bit more adventurous to explore other cuisines or your craving for Thai food is just kicking in, better head over to this obscure restaurant which was popular among students and foodies during the 90s. With bestsellers consisting of the savory Pad Thai, Bagoong Rice, and SR Seafood Fried Rice, there’s no surprise if you leave the place with a happy and heavy tummy.
1224 Asturias St., Sampaloc, Manila
Operating hours: 7:30am to 8:30pm
Price range: 25 – 55
I could think of only one reason why the place is called Lovelite: they’ve got food you’ll love at a very lite price. This eatery is famous among on-the-go Thomasians for their cheap footlong, burger steak, and bacon combo rice meals, usually served with a heart-shaped sunny side-up and generous, generous helpings of gravy.
Rushing to get copies of your prof’s new set of readings? Lovelite offers photocopying, bookbinding, and ring-binding services too. Less hassle, yay!
1125 Dos Castillas St., Sampaloc, Manila
(behind McDonalds Lacson)
Operating hours: 10am to 2am
Price range: 50 – 120
This one of a kind café is a great spot to study or chillax especially if you’re into arts, films, and theatre. Take comfort in the cozy atmosphere, Broadway hits on their playlist, friendly baristas, and complimentary treats on drinks. And when you crack a joke, share a quote, or perform a song, poem, or speech at the open mic corner, they’ll reward you with a free snack. How cool is that?
At some days, the room upstairs transforms into a movie house. It can also be rented out for group meetings, birthday parties, and other small events– even your own concert.
V. Concepcion St. / Dapitan St. cor. Dos Castiillas St., Sampaloc, Manila
Operating hours: 8am to 10pm
Price range: 55 – 70
When visiting Sisig Express, it doesn’t matter if you’re really hungry or not. You’ll always find yourself getting excited over the sound of chicken/pork sisig sizzling in platito-sized charcoal plates. Their Adobo Flakes is a must-try too!
1135 P. Noval St., Sampaloc, Manila
Operating hours: 8am to 9pm
Price range: 60 – 70
So what’s the most iconic food spot in the area? Ask any Thomasian and you’ll probably get the same answer: Mang Tootz! The legendary eatery is frequented by students, alumni, and food trippers who can’t help but come back to its good food and warm, efficient service. Try the all-time favorites such as Inihaw na Liempo, Sisig, Breaded Chicken, and Chicken Kebab, all ensured to be in excellent quality by Mang Tootz himself.
Afterwards, make sure to end your hearty meal with their signature Banana-rhuma (sells at P10 for 3 pieces), which are caramelized mini turons sprinkled with sesame seeds, milk powder and cinnamon. Yum!
What other exciting food finds around UST are you fond of? We know there are more! Share them in the Comments Section below.

Mica Dela Rosa

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