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Eating in Oxford : a freshers’ guide

Moving to a new city can be disorienting and it might be tempting to skulk away to the chains we all know and love. Although the new Pret coffee subscription is pretty unreal, it’s great to discover unique places to eat that only Oxford has to offer!

Here is a selection of some of the most prized eats in Oxford; these independent gems are all affordable, tasty and veggie-friendly.


Gloucester Green Market

Open Weds-Sat – Just off George Street

A cosy collection of stalls serving street food from around the world, this open-air market will have something for everyone. Prices can get a little steep, but hunt down the giant bao buns and you can bag yourself lunch for £2. With a few picnic benches dotted around, this place is great for a more corona-safe lunch with a few friends; munch on something colourful and browse racks of vintage clothes and antique treasures while you’re at it.

Covered Market

Open everyday till 5pm – Market Street

Similar to Gloucester Green (though less exposed to the elements), this is a great place to find a wide variety of tasty lunch options. Nestled amongst gift shops and florists are some of the best places for affordable food in Ox. Alpha Bar serves up hefty takeaway salads for a fiver, or grab some pad thai for the same price at Sasi’s Thai. 

Najar’s Place

Open everyday – St Giles

Perched outside St John’s College, this tiny blue hut is the stuff of dreams. Generally around £3.50, these wraps will put your soggy Tesco meal deal to shame. A hefty, fluffy wrap stuffed with mezze fillings of your choice: falafel, halloumi, roasted cauliflower, packed with salad and drizzled with sauce before being toasted to a golden crisp. Easily a full meal and great value for money, these are guaranteed to keep you coming back.

Alternative Tuck Shop (ATS)

Open weekdays – Holywell Street

At lunchtimes the queue is often down the street for ATS, and there’s good reason why. The range of fillings at this little deli is out of this world, whether you’re vegan, veggie or otherwise.  You’ll also be spoilt for choice for bread; bagels, olive ciabatta, baguettes and more. The guys working here are friendly and crazy efficient, so in no time you’ll be at the front of the queue and out the door with the best sandwich in Oxford for under a fiver.


Open everyday – Little Clarendon Street (+2 others in Cowley and St Aldate’s)

G&D’s was originally set up by an Oxford student in 1992, and still serves lush ice cream to this day. Open morning till late, this place is great for studying or swinging by en route back from the pub.

The Nosebag

Open everyday – St Micheal’s street 

This little restaurant is tucked away upstairs and so very easily missed while walking down the street, but that is no reason not to seek it out. The portions are very generous for the price and there is a diverse variety of food that guarantees getting something you fancy. The decor and service style (grab a tray and pay at the counter) is unassuming but it is a great place for a relaxed meal. 


Open till late – High street 

This is easily the best ice cream in Oxford with an ever-changing array of flavours that features guest flavours that change on a weekly basis. Go during the winter and the italian hot chocolate is thick, rich, and to die for. 

The Handlebar 

Open everyday – St Micheal’s street 

From the outside, it appears to be a bike shop, but upstairs is a stylishly decorated all-day brunch venue that will guarantee you coming back for more – I unashamedly went three times in one week. Everything on their menu is very easily eaten but the coconut pancake stack with bacon comes particularly highly-recommended.  

A little further out (but worth the trip)


Open afternoons everyday – Cowley Road

Whether you’re in it for the tapas or the cocktails, the interior of this place is incredible; mustard walls and comfy sofas surrounded by giant plants, this is not one to miss. A fab place to share a few plates and/or drinks with friends if you’re looking for a nice evening out.

Za-atar bake

Open Tues-Sun – Cowley Road

This Arabic Bakery & cafe has a great range of freshly prepared food and handmade sweets on offer. The shakshuka here is unparalleled and you can grab a freshly baked flatbread for around a fiver. This place additionally offers free food to the homeless, so by eating here you’d be contributing to the community in more ways than one.

Image credit – Flickr / Sarah Stierch

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