College is all about trying new things academically, socially and even gastronomically. Take the start of a new year to try out something your senses have never experienced – like the texture of raw salmon or the taste of truffle oil – at these hot gastropubs and gourmet offshoots. Whether you’re a freshman or just looking for fresh places, these restaurants will fulfill your foodie desires without breaking the bank.
Buns & Buns
For the price-conscious food connoisseur, this gastropub is the place to get a taste of gourmet on a budget. A small plate of wagyu beef tartare with truffle and porcini sauce might set you back $100 elsewhere, but at Buns & Buns, you can get it for $6. Each entree, from the Japanese yuzu lobster to the Southern-style prime brisket, is under $17. Not everything on the menu will live up to expectations, but the Duroc pork belly, the spinach poofs and the black miso cod are nearly life changing. The chefs’ strengths are highlighted in dishes that blend the restaurant’s Asian, Mediterranean and New World influences, like the asparagus appetizer with red miso powder, tahini and lime. If you’re in the mood for gourmet food in an eclectic, casual atmosphere, take the shuttle to Sunset Place and find Buns & Buns along the main drag.
Bobby’s Burger Place
With its celebrity-chef-designed burgers and famous fries, BBP makes the work of Food Network star Bobby Flay attainable. The small chain takes the cuisines of different cities, like Miami, Philadelphia and Dallas, and crafts them into towering burgers with an (optional) layer of potato chips. The ideas behind each regionally-inspired dish come from Flay’s TV show, “Food Nation,” in which he explores the country and its best food quirks. This backstory makes for the best burger toppings, like the Carolina burger’s green onion slaw and mustard BBQ sauce, the New Mexico burger’s roasted green chiles and queso sauce and the L.A. burger’s avocado relish with watercress. BBP might not be the place for a classy date, but its communal tables and fast service make it the perfect place to hang with classmates. Best yet, it’s just a few metro stops away at the Dadeland Mall.
Station 5 Table & Bar
For quirky bites like short rib Cheeto tacos and cereal-sprinkled french toast, visit gastropub and brunch hub Station 5. The restaurant started in Sunset Place two Septembers ago and has served a unique mix of “New American” tapas, snacks and cocktails ever since. While the menu boasts large and small plates, the starters, which include bacon guacamole with plantain chips, ahi tuna poke or Thai-style shrimp tacos, are the standouts. On a weeknight, Station 5 is a cute rustic getaway where you can grab a drink, unwind and indulge in some lobster mac. If you’re with more than four friends, it’s the perfect spot to have Sunday brunch – otherwise, prepare to wait for one of their six tables to clear out; no reservations are taken for small parties.