Students miss gems in local restaurant scene

Students conditioned to ordering a pizza or settling for dining hall meals night after night are missing the big picture of the diverse Tempe culinary scene.

From traditional English fare to Indian cuisine, students are within walking distance of affordable food and opportunities to expand their meal horizons.

YC’s Mongolian Grill, near the corner of McClintock Drive and Southern Avenue, offers a distinctive take on stir-fry dishes.

“It’s create your own stir-fry,” YC’s owner Geoff Stanisic said. “You pick what you would like us to cook for you. You pick your own meat, your own veggies, your own noodles and your own sauce.”

Stanisic said the business model of YC’s caters to ASU students because it allows them to make their own meal decisions while still maintaining healthy and affordable options. The price for a large stir-fry bowl at the restaurant before 5 p.m. is $9.75.

“You are in control with what you are going to eat from the minute you step into the restaurant,” Stanisic said.

Cornish Pasty Co., on the corner of Hardy Drive and Seventh Street, also offers a variety of across-the-pond food.

The restaurant features traditional English miner food, called pasties, which are personal pies filled with meat, vegetables or even vegan options, manager Brandon Volkenant said.

Each pasty on the menu is below $10.

“We offer a very laid back environment to sit and study,” Volkenant said. “It’s a good spot you can come and relax without being pressured to make a heavy purchase.”

The Dhaba is another restaurant offering a different dining experience, serving Punjabi style food found in northern India, owner Raveen Arora said.

The Dhaba is across from the McClintock Drive/Apache Boulevard light rail stop and offers customary dishes along with vegetarian and vegan options all under $20, Arora said.

Arora said the restaurant has continued to grow because his focus is to keep quality ingredients rather than undercutting costs like competitors in the area.

“It’s the quality of our ingredients,” Arora said. “The basic difference is the quality and our huge emphasis on service.”

Stanisic said the region around the University and Tempe is teeming with local, independent and quality restaurants.

“(There is) a lot of good independent food in the ASU area,” Stanisic said. “It’s a nice thing to have survived and thrived.”

Reach the reporter at

<a href="">Click here to subscribe to the daily <em>State Press</em> newsletter.</a>

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.