Cash-strapped college students are always looking for cheap, tasty meals.
We went on a mission to find five meals for $5 or less no more than five minutes (on foot) from the center of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus.
Students this year have more on-campus options with the opening of a remodeled, $3.1 million dining hall. Freshmen are required to join the university meal plan.
Still, hungry college students will always need lots of food options.
Here are five:
Champy's Famous Fried Chicken
526 E. M.L. King Blvd.
- Order: Two-piece (dark meat) snack.
- Price: $4.65 ($6.14 with tax and tip).
- What is it? A battered and fried chicken leg served on top of two slices of untoasted white bread. Condiment choices include ketchup or Louisiana-style Crystal Hot Sauce.
- Fast fact: The walls of Champy's were covered in dollar bills marked with names, messages and/or titles. Also adorning the inside of the restaurant were California, Hawaii and Iowa license plates, two televisions airing ESPN and stacked cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
The peanut butter, banana and honey on a whole wheat roll with a sample of papaya matê tea lies inside of Yellow Deli on McCallie Avenue. Several restaurants near the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offer meals for students below or around $5.Photo by Jenna Walker
The Yellow Deli
737 McCallie Ave.
- Order: Peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich on a whole-wheat roll.
- Price: $3.50 ($4.58 with tax and tip).
- What is it? Honey and peanut butter, heated to melting, with bananas served on thick wheat rolls. This selection sparks memories of family picnics in the park. The waitress, Tehillia Campbell, also brought a sampling of other dishes for first-timers: a papaya mate drink, the stew of the day (tomato bisque) and chili.
- Fast fact: Campbell said some students were obsessed with the restaurant last spring. "We joked with them, 'Are you confused? Do you know that this isn't your home?'" During exam week, one student stayed for three days, she said.
The Thursday special, chicken finger basket with a side of fries for 5 dollars, lies on a table inside of Jefferson's on Georgia Ave. Several restaurants on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offer meals for students below or around 5 dollars.
618 Georgia Ave.
- Order: Chicken finger basket.
- Price: $5 ($6.55 with tax and tip).
- What is it? Every Thursday, Jefferson's has a special deal with four chicken fingers, fries and Jefferson's special sauce for $5. The mayonnaise-based special sauce worked well for dipping both the fries and the chicken.
- Fast fact: Waitress Madison Routon said that Thursdays are often the restaurant's busiest days because, in addition to the chicken special, the restaurant offers pitchers of domestic beer for $6.
University Pizza and Deli
422 Vine St.
- Order: 10-topping mini pizza.
- Price: $4.80 ($6.29 with tax and tip).
- What is it? The 7-inch pizza with 10 toppings was loaded with three types of cheeses, two varieties of olives, two kinds of peppers, pineapple, onion and pepperoni. One man eating the pizza called it a "mega-supreme."
- Fast fact: The restaurant, decorated with a Palestinian flag and pictures of "Palestine, the Holy Land," is a popular hangout for students from UTC Christian ministries. Campus Crusade for Christ and Young Life meet at the restaurant, according to Kate Campbell, one of the restaurant employees.
Chick-fil-A Express at University Center
- Order: Original chicken sandwich and regular waffle fries.
- Price: $4.60 ($5.03 with tax).
- What is it? Chick-fil-A's original chicken sandwich, noted for its simple design (pickle, chicken, bread), is a fast-food standard and doesn't waver much from one restaurant to the next. However, at the Chick-fil-A Express, the food is premade and sits under a heat lamp for customers to pick up and pay for at the University Center cash register.
- Fast fact: There's no wait for the sandwich and fries, but the quality of the food isn't as great as at a normal Chick-fil-A. Still, the waffle fries have the same seasoning, and the sandwich's three pickles display the importance of understatement.
Andrew Pantazi is an intern at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who says that when he was 7 he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life: play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, he says he wasn't any good at hockey, so he became a journalist instead. He writes about the lives we hide, like the man who suffered a stroke but smiled, or the football walk-on who endured 5 ...