University Town Center: Off-Campus Shopping and Dining

University Town Center: Off-Campus Shopping and Dining

 

Ah, UTC. The perfect excuse to avoid your upcoming deadlines, stress and school work and still not regret your decision afterwards. Sometimes.

The University Center, also known as UTC (short for its former name, University Town Center), is essentially the closest hub for all the restaurants, grocery shopping and dessert eating that you’ll need while you’re here at UCI. With over 25 eateries, a Target, a Trader Joe’s and plenty of other services available just a 5 minute walk from the front of campus, you’ll most likely find yourself at UTC more often than you’d think.

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The food favorites at UTC are basically the classics here at UCI: In-N-Out, Chick-fil-a, Chipotle and Blaze, all of which you are probably bound to eat at at least once during your four years here (unless you’re a vegetarian or vegan, then Tender Greens and Mendocino Farms will be your go-to!). However, if you’re ever feeling tired of the food court eateries in the Student Center, one of the best things about UTC is the variety of food choices that is available within such a close proximity to campus. From sushi to burgers to pasta and dessert, there is a such a wide selection of places to choose from. Honestly, there’s so many that in fact, I still haven’t tried them all since I started two years ago at UCI. I’m still working on it!

As of recently, UTC was under construction for a good portion of the year and brought in some new places for students to enjoy, such as Dunkin’ Donuts, an Amazon store and a Breakfast Republic, which is set to open sometime next year for you brunchers out there! Even the Target is a new addition to the center within the last year and is now a staple for students for nearly everything you may need in a crunch.

Another aspect of UTC that many UCI students tend to overlook is the Edwards Movie Theater located right next to the Target on the backside of the shopping center. The theater specializes in screening independent films and documentaries, many of which have made a splash at Sundance as well as other film festivals. However, Edwards will still occasionally show the bigger blockbuster films, such as Get Out when it first came to theaters and the new Star Wars films, so keep an eye out for new releases!

And while some students may only spend their money at UTC, many others make money there instead. Nearly all the places in UTC hire UCI students year-round, especially toward the beginning and end of the year. Many students only apply to campus jobs since they’re so convenient, not knowing that UTC is just as easy and accessible. So the next time you’re ordering food at In-N-Out, be kind! That person who’s taking your order might be a fellow Anteater!

For me, UTC has changed its purpose throughout the years. My first year, it was a place to hang out, drink too much boba and avoid my homework. My second year it became a nice break to study outside in between classes and grab a snack. And now? I’m not too sure what UTC has in store for me this year. But whatever it is, I hope tasty food and good memories are a part of it.

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And while some students may only spend their money at UTC, many others make money there instead. Nearly all the places in UTC hire UCI students year-round, especially toward the beginning and end of the year. Many students only apply to campus jobs since they’re so convenient, not knowing that UTC is just as easy and accessible. So the next time you’re ordering food at In-N-Out, be kind! That person who’s taking your order might be a fellow Anteater!

For me, UTC has changed its purpose throughout the years. My first year, it was a place to hang out, drink too much boba and avoid my homework. My second year it became a nice break to study outside in between classes and grab a snack. And now? I’m not too sure what UTC has in store for me this year. But whatever it is, I hope tasty food and good memories are a part of it.

 
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