A Broke Student’s Guide to Richmond Good Cheap Eats

by | Oct 10, 2022 | EAT DRINK, GOOD EATS, PINNED

Broke student but wanting to explore the city? You have been eating at the university food hall for awhile and its probably a good time to highlight a few places YOU the students at Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Union University can enjoy and afford. Here is our (in)complete list of great spots to get decent food at decent prices! If you can think of a few more, let us know in the comments.

ed. note — We don’t support super large corporate chains (admittedly we do like Waffle House and 7-11, if feeling grimy and its 4am) so we want to bring you into the RVAMAG world of local businesses owned and operated by Richmond folk! Always support local culture when you can.

SUGAR SHACK
1001 N Lombardy St.
Richmond, VA 23220
Got a sweet tooth and need a sweet fix? There are a bunch of donut options now but the one we remember being here first is Sugar Shack. A VCU and VUU a staple for years bringing the donuts and coffee you need to get going in the morning. If you are feeling adventurous, try a Luther Burger — a burger in between a donut!

HOT FOR PIZZA
1301 W Leigh St, Richmond, VA 23220
Feeling hot for something delicious? Give Hot For Pizza a try. Up on Leigh Street a bit but worth the trip to get a big slice with a funky hair metal eighties style local vibe all in one setting. Don’t expect fancy but expect to be satisfied and if you hang out at the bar, maybe make a few new friends in the process.

JAMAICA HOUSE RESTAURANT
416 W Broad St, Richmond, VA 23220
Like every great hide away spot, they don’t have an instagram but trust us — if you are looking for that delicious Jamaican flavour within walking distance of campus — this is the place. The Jamaican patties are the go to and the jerk chicken is almost 2 meals for $7 – $8.

GET TIGHT LOUNGE
1104 W Main St, Richmond, VA 23220
This honky tonk bar is tricked out with vintage neon and an open air patio stage where you can catch traveling bands on their way to DC or coming back. We like the great mix of BBQ sandwiches and cheap brews and they are now open for lunch and brunch with items catering to students. Also, they have great Happy Hour specials from 4:20-6pm!

BENNY VENTANO’S PIZZA AKA BIG ASS PIZZA
2501 W Main St, Richmond, VA 23220 🤤🤤🤤
How much pizza can you fit into your mouth? This is the place to test your hunger limits.
Benny Ventano’s also known as “Benny’s” is best known for it’s $5 pizza and soda combo late night for the college crowd on Main Street in The Fan. Open until 12AM on weekdays and 3AM on weekends, grab your friends after a night out and enjoy a homemade slice of pizza the size of your face!

CITY DOGS
1309 W Main St #4851, Richmond, VA 23220
It doesn’t get much cheaper than hot dogs and there is only place built on the foundation of this delicious American staple, City Dogs. Get the dog with chili. Get it with the cheese. Add some pickles. Drown it down with a cold beer if you are of age. Have the way you want. Really can’t go wrong and you can prob squeeze it all in for under $10.

BLANCHARD’S COFFEE
26 N Morris St, Richmond, VA 23220
Who has the best coffee in town? There are a lot of options so you will need to do your own taste test but for us — if you need to cram in one last study session before the big test and want some flavour — Blanchard’s will not let you down. With 3 locations across the city, Blanchard’s provides delicious fresh roasted coffee and an amazing vibe and atmosphere to give you the chance to study, or catch up with a friend!

COBRA CABANA
901 W Marshall St, Richmond, VA 23220
Created by the same people as Hot For Pizza, expect heavy metal vibes, cheap booze and decent food. Their vegan options are solid, the ‘Snek’ Sandwiches are mouth-watering and don’t forget the
Carne Asada fries! Open until 2AM every night. 

GALAXY DINER
3109 W Cary St, Richmond, VA 23221
Welcome to ‘The Twilight Zone’ or ‘Funky Town’ or ‘The Mothership’, whatever your initial feels about Galaxy Diner is be prepared to be surrounded by the chrome and funky throwback decor that has made this place a long time college hangout for ballers-on-a-budget. It is not health food but affordable food for breakfast and dinner with an array of milkshakes that is fun with friends who are saving money with you. Oh, and try the fried pickles!

GOT DUMPLINGS
309 N Laurel St, Richmond, VA 23220
Dumplings is life and sometimes you need dumplings and this place has got the dumplings you need. It is a simple equation but
Got Dumplings is a game changer when you’re broke and in the mood for Chinese food with a menu that consists of combo plates, dumpling soups, and delicious asian drinks all at affordable student prices.

GWARbar
217 W Clay St, Richmond, VA 23220
The most (in)famous band in the universe has a bar named GWARbar. The band is full of demonic aliens that want to get us hooked on crack, make us do bad things  and feed us into a black hole — but GWARbar in Jackson Ward is a super fun friendly place to hang out, get some grub and have a good time with a room full of local… um… characters.

MOCHINUT
900 W Franklin St, Richmond, VA 23220
Admittedly, not the cheapest donut around but what is a mochinut? We are pretty sure it is a donut but these donuts have a +1 flavour level. Eat one of these things and you will be back for more.
Located on campus on Franklin Street, Mochinut is a perfectly cute place to satisfy your sweet tooth! Oh, and grab one of them strange looking but awesome Korean Hot Dogs while you’re at it.

STICKY RICE
2232 W Main St, Richmond, VA 23220
One of the original long time running restaurants in the city brings a combination of cheap eats wrapped in good times. Sushi on a budget? There is only one place in town that rocks
half priced sushi on Monday night from 10:30-1:30. Add in the best karaoke night on Tuesdays, cheap booze and you have the makings of one of the best college hangs in the city.

VILLAGE CAFE
1001 W Grace St, Richmond, VA 23220
The Village Cafe has been feeding broke students for over 50 years and is the initial intersection of students and local for most newcomers in town. Cowgirls Get The Blues author Tom Robbins sat on these barstools back in the 1960s; Richmond’s Dirt Woman created a funky scene out front through out the 1980s; and GWAR in costume would hang out late night back in the 90s. Who knows who is hanging out there today that might change the city in the future.

FOO DOG
1537 W Main St, Richmond, VA 23220
An anime inspired bar that is LGBTQIA+ super friendly that rocks a cheap happy hour is our kind of place. Delicious bao buns and ramen? We have eaten a ton of both. Yes, please. Calamari and some crispy fried chicken? Yes! Let’s get on that and pretty much all of it under $10 is something we can all celebrate. Say hi to one of our favorite city bartenders, Katie Stuart aka Bar Daddy for us!

We know we missed some spots. Let us know and we will get on fixing this article. Part 2 coming up next week!

Written by Marilyn Pham tagged teamed by R. Anthony Harris

Marilyn Pham

Marilyn Pham

Marilyn is a local writer and singer based in Richmond, Virginia. She expresses herself through music and writing to connect with others who share the same love for art.




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