Ask Anna Anything: An Advice Column for College Students

As a soon-to-be graduated student of Seattle University, I have spent the last few years of college relying on the good—and the bad—advice I have received from peers, family and friends. Each week I will answer two questions submitted by readers to the best of my ability. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.

Where are the best places to eat or drink near campus?

After spending three years living near the Seattle University campus, I am constantly scouting for tasty, affordable food and drink spots within walking distance. While the pandemic has put a dent in many indoor dining options, restaurants and cafes have creatively pivoted to adhere to guidelines, and I have thoroughly enjoyed finding new spots near campus to fill the void of losing the on-campus community we once all had.

In terms of coffee, my current favorite spots include Central Cafe & Juice Bar, Union Coffee and Melo Cafe. These cafes all have one thing in common: the delicious variety of snacks and meals offered, including their amazing empanadas. I didn’t even know I loved eating empanadas until I discovered these cafes and now they are my go-to snack with coffee. 

Central Cafe, located by Garfield High School, has the best vanilla latte near campus. They have amazing juices and smoothies that are perfect for the warm weather coming up. Another new favorite coffee drink I recently had was a rose, cardamom latte from Union Coffee that blew me away. I am not super adventurous with my coffee flavors, but this was amazing. Also to my surprise was my new obsession with Melo Cafe’s juices. I have never been big on juice, but they make delicious smoothies with reusable bottles that make the experience even better.

If you’re over 21 and looking to get a drink off-campus, (Jesuit university, duh) I recommend Chuck’s Hop Shop on Union Street. They have a rotating tap ranging from $6-12, which is pretty affordable for Seattle. Their outdoor beer garden-style seating is perfect for a COVID-19-friendly evening out with your vaccinated friends. If you’re more of a cocktail person, then I recommend Capitol Hill Cider’s late-night happy hour where you can enjoy $8 cocktails from 10 p.m. until closing. 

All of these cute spots are within walking distance to campus and offer a range of food and drink options for you to enjoy with outdoor seating. 

What is the best frozen meal from Trader Joe’s?

I am obsessed with the frozen section of Trader Joe’s. I am normally not a big fan of frozen foods since they are sometimes hit-or-miss in quality and price, but the frozen section at TJ’s has yet to completely fail me. 

My go-to has always been the orange chicken with jasmine rice. Not only is it delicious, but it is simple to make and is great for leftovers. I usually make a pan-style meal with the chicken from the bag and add broccoli or other veggies to spice up the bowl. Then I add everything to a bowl of rice, top it with the tangy orange sauce and it is the perfect weeknight meal. Another thing to note is that this entire meal costs less than $10 to make and will provide leftovers for several days. 

If you’re looking for a stir fry-type meal, then I recommend the sweet and spicy beef and broccoli. I was skeptical about this one and didn’t buy it because I felt like it wouldn’t be tasty. I was extremely wrong. This spicy stir fry is delicious and can last a few leftover meals, but not as many as the orange chicken. It is important to note as well that this frozen meal is a few dollars more than the average $4.99 frozen bag at TJ’s, so I usually only buy it every few weeks. 

I usually opt-out from purchasing frozen pastas, but the fettuccine alfredo is one of my favorite base meals to spice up and customize. The ease of throwing frozen pasta and sauce on the stovetop is spectacular on weeknights and weekends. If I’m tired, then adding pepper and garlic salt will jazz it up enough to my liking. However, when I have more time, I love to add chicken, mushrooms or broccoli to change it up a bit. Either way, this $3.99 is incredibly satisfying and easy to make. 

The best part about the frozen food section at TJ’s is that there is a lot of room to customize your food by adding to it. Sometimes It’s obvious that food has been frozen for a while, but adding spices and veggies can add extra flavor. I recommend browsing the section and trying out anything that looks good, because I have yet to try anything that greatly disappointed me. 

Looking for some advice and wanting to remain anonymous? Submit a question to this form here or email [email protected] for any questions.