Off-Campus Dining

Merced, CA
Tuition (in-state)
$35,948 ($13,070)
Admission Difficulty
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4 College Freshman

Off-Campus Dining: There are many different food place in downtown Merced, one being JR Tacos. This restraunt has really great Mexican food, but they are a little on the pricey side. However, they do offer a student discount if you have your student ID.

4 College Freshman

Off-Campus Dining: Off campus dining is definitely preferred to the food offered in the Dining Center

4 College Junior

Off-Campus Dining: I'm not picky about food, so I'm quite happy with the variety of dining options off-campus. The price is always on the steeper end for me, personally, but the quality is decent enough that it's generally worth what you're paying for. It's the most enjoyable thing to do in my free time anyways, so spending the money for good food is very much worth it to me.

3 College Freshman

Off-Campus Dining: There are some cool places like chiptole and fusion cafe

2 College Freshman

Off-Campus Dining: If you want to go out to eat over here theirs not really much unless you enjoy McDonalds and other Fast food restaurants, the best place is probably In and Out and its an hour on the bus.


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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 807th
    Best Off-Campus Dining Cost
  • 1044th
    Best Off-Campus Dining Variety

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Harini Kompella
Santa Clarita, California
Human Biology
View all previous student authors

The off-campus dining options here are fair in terms of convenience and variety, but there's definitely room for improvement. For example, there could be more healthy/organic food and/or vegetarian options. Also, because the campus is not in the middle of town, off-campus dining requires a little bit of a drive and can pose somewhat of a challenge. Generally, Merced’s best restaurants are hidden and considered special secrets. For example, Sam’s Café, a simple Thai cuisine restaurant and student favorite, is located in a low-key neighborhood on the other side of town. Yet, many students are willing to make the drive to Sam’s Café because of its quality, quantity, reasonable prices, and friendly, personable service from Sam himself, the owner who knows UCM and its students well. As a result, Sam’s Café has become a hot spot.

While there might be a limit on the number of restaurants found in Merced due to the town's size, each restaurant is unique, so there’s no endless repetition of the same few places. There are certainly the typical fast food chains, but there are also more ethnic, classy places. If you don’t want to sit down to some pad thai at Sam’s Café, you can swing by to Taste of Little India, an elegant Indian restaurant a little past the heart of town, for some naan, rice, and curry. Or you can visit Strings, which is probably the closest and most convenient fine dining place there is for UCM students. While somewhat pricey, Strings is an Italian restaurant that is within a five-minute drive from campus and is accessible through the campus transportation system.

Facts & Statistics

24-Hour Dining
  • Denny's
  • Sonics
  • Victoria's
Best Asian
  • Panda Express
  • Sam's Café
Best Breakfast
Best Coffee
Best Dessert
  • Cold Stone Creamery
  • Forte Frozen Yogurt
Best Healthy
Best Late-Night
  • Denny's
  • Sonic
Best Mexican
  • Treviño's
  • Victoria's
Best Pizza
Best Wings
Best Place to Take a Date
Best Place to Take Your Parents
  • Strings
  • Wingstop
Other Places to Check Out
  • Chili's (in neighboring town only)
  • Olive Garden (in neighboring town only)
  • Panda Express

Grocery StoresWhat's This?

Food 4 Less
1115 W. Olive Ave.
(209) 725-2150
Daily 4 a.m.-12 a.m.
3550 N. G St.
(209) 722-3689
Daily 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
Save Mart Supermarket
1300 W. Olive Ave.
(209) 722-3385
Daily 5 a.m.-1 a.m.
Valles Market
645 W. 11th St.
(209) 723-4106
Daily 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Restaurant ListingsWhat's This?

China Grand Buffet
Food: Chinese
1121 W. Olive Ave.
(209) 388-1268
Price: $8-$15
Cool Hand Luke's
Food: Steak
475 W. Olive Ave.
(209) 383-3038
Price: $15-$25
King's Asian Cuisine
Food: Chinese, Japanese, sushi, cocktail bar
360 W. Main St.
(209) 383-9838
Price: $10-$20
Sam's Café
Food: Thai
235 W. 12th St.
(209) 383-5350
Price: $6-$20
Cool Features: Free Wi-Fi, karaoke
Food: Steak, seafood, salad
1334 W. Olive Ave.
(209) 723-7100
Price: $10-$40
Strings Italian Café
Food: Italian
731 E. Yosemite Ave.
(209) 383-9777
Price: $10-$35
Taste of Little India
Food: North Indian
1052 W. Main St.
(209) 722-2230
Price: $8-$15
Food: Mexican
408 W. Main St.
(209) 723-5610
Price: $10-$15
Food: Mexican
1060 W. 16th St.
(209) 726-1907
Price: $5-$10
Food: Wings
779 E. Yosemite Ave.
(209) 383-9464
Price: $5-$15

Student Polls

Rate the off-campus restaurants on the following topics    Based on 77 responses

Very poor
  • Cost
  • Convenience
  • Healthy/organic options
  • Late-night options
  • Quality
  • Student discounts
  • Variety/number of options
  • Vegetarian/vegan options

How would you rate the diversity of off-campus dining options?    Based on 88 responses

  • 12% An endless repetition of the same few places.
  • 23% Mostly just chain restaurants and fast food.
  • 42% Enough variety to keep things interesting.
  • 23% A nice variety of local spots and ethnic cuisine.
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