Pillbox

Sample cheap yet tasty food in Oakland

Joe Mama’s offers a variety of traditional Italian foods such as pasta and pizza. (credit: Angel Gonzalez | Photo Staff) Joe Mama’s offers a variety of traditional Italian foods such as pasta and pizza. (credit: Angel Gonzalez | Photo Staff) Dozen Bake Shop on Craig Street sells cupcakes, along with other tasty baked goods, snacks, and sandwiches. (credit: Celia Ludwinski| Photo Editor) Dozen Bake Shop on Craig Street sells cupcakes, along with other tasty baked goods, snacks, and sandwiches. (credit: Celia Ludwinski| Photo Editor)

College students spend a considerable amount of money on tuition, so when it comes time to eat, many opt for meals that consist of ramen noodles and overly caffeinated drinks. Luckily, there is an alternative in Oakland. If you are willing to stay up a little later than usual — and let’s face it, you’re probably going to be up anyway — you can get a full meal at half the price! Whether you’re in the mood for Mexican or Indian food, Oakland’s half-price probably has something for you and your budget. At other times of the day, the neighborhood also has plentiful offerings of breakfasts and desserts.

Thinking you want Italian? Then head over to Joe Mama’s for a diner-style Italian meal. This large eating establishment features an upstairs dining room that looks like something out of Grandma’s Sicilian kitchen, complete with red checkerboard tablecloths. The menu has pizza, pasta, and everything in between. During the months of September through April, select menu items are half price as long as you show up between 11 p.m. and midnight. Craving a pizza? They are half the price from 4 to 5 p.m. daily!

If you are looking for a more red, white, and blue menu, then Fuel & Fuddle is the place for you. The menu features items such as chicken wings and burgers alongside sandwiches and wraps. For those of you that are of age, Fuel & Fuddle also offers a selection of beers that changes daily. Remember that the half-price menu after 11 p.m. excludes steak and seafood dishes.

Want to be more diverse? India Garden will fulfill any desire that you have to be adventurous. The menu is as large as your “Welcome to Carnegie Mellon” packet, guaranteeing that there will be at least one thing you’re willing to eat. You can pick the desired spice level for your meal on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being as spicy as they can make it. (The restaurant’s slogan is “Only as spicy as you are.”) While you wait for your food, you can enjoy Indian music videos playing on the large TVs in the restaurant. As always, it wouldn’t be a complete Indian meal without the naan, and India Garden’s is delicious and fresh. Dinner is half price from 5 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m.

Craving a Mexican meal but tired of the tiny menu offered at Chipotle? Then Mad Mex is your place. The menu has all of the Mexican classics: Fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, chimichangas, tacos... if you can name it, they probably have it. If you have your student ID with you, enjoy your meal at half the price between the hours of 2 and 4 p.m. After 11 p.m., most of the menu is half price, regardless of your educational status. Discounts don’t include the chimichangas, fajitas, and tacos, so keep that in mind when ordering.

Pamela’s Diner, featuring six locations in Pittsburgh, is home to some of the most delicious breakfast foods available. Each diner is different from the others. Venture over to the Oakland location and you will find the walls covered in board games from your childhood. The one in Shadyside chose to cover its walls with pictures of customers and neighborhood artwork. Every Pamela’s menu has classics like eggs and bacon, but the crowning glories are the specialty hotcakes. The crepe-like hotcakes can either be served alone or with fresh fruit, chocolate chips, and whipped cream. One can easily spend under $10 and still leave satisfied.

After all of the wonderful meals offered at low prices in Oakland, all that is missing is dessert. While most of the establishments mentioned above feature a dessert menu, you should consider visiting the other popular dessert destinations in the area. Dave and Andy’s, in the heart of Oakland, is home to fresh waffle cones and homemade ice cream. During the early fall and late spring, the lines are often out the door; the walls inside, covered in newspaper clippings, attest to the shop’s popularity. Flavors are made fresh and vary daily. If you don’t like waffle cones, don’t worry; there is always the option of getting your ice cream in a cup or as a shake.

Finally, you can stop by the newly relocated Dozen Bake Shop on Craig Street when in need of some light and delicious baked goods. Cupcakes make a great on-the-go dessert.