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It must be said that, despite that fact that Cork is home to the University College Cork, a sizable university with over 15,000 students, as well as a school of music and a few other schools, the city does not seem to cater much to students, barring a few drink deals at the cheesier bars. It has been a challenge to find good deals in the city's restaurants and it is difficult to spend less than 10-15E when eating out, excluding sandwiches, even at lunch time. Not much for some, but student budgets are quite tight and there are other cities which cater a little more to that type of budget.
That being said, there are some good eateries here. The Isaacs Restaurant on McCurtain street offers tasty and quality fare for between 12-20E. There is also a good tapas restaurant around the corner from there. Across from the Cork Opera House is Luigi Malone's, which offers lunch deals of a meal and beverage for under 10E or a meal and glass of beer/wine for under 12E. They also offer after work deals on drinks during the week. Banna Thai, on a side street next to Debenham's, offers good Thai food at moderate prices. Cafe Mexicana, down Carey's Lane off the main Patrick's Street is the only Mexican fare in town - not what Americans are used to, but still good food for 15-20E. And finally, one of the first restaurants eaten at upon arrival in Cork was the Strasbourg Goose, one street over from Cafe Mexicana on French Church St.
A great new recession friendly restaurant in Cork - the Gourmet Burger Bistro in Bridge St, across Patricks Bridge. Food is great, it's great value for money, staff are very friendly AND it's coeliac friendly. Mainly burgers but delicious salads too. €10 lunch deals. A long awaited addition to Cork.
Ramen is a local chain of noodle bars with reasonable prices, decent food and a gimmick of a free DIY ice cream cone with every main. Their first location on Anglesea St just south of the city hall is still there and they have a number of suburban locations (Douglas, Dennehy's Cross, Ballincollig, Midleton). The main downsides are that service can be hit and miss, and that their wine selection is a bit ropey (in contrast to quite a good beer menu).
The best sandwiches are to be found in 'the long valley' on winthrop street (stones throw from general post office). works out at about 5 euro on average but you'll be stuffed for hours. Around the corner on Oliver Plunkeyy st 'The Old oak' is very reasonable and a lovely pub too.Try it...lovely spot
For pizzas,salads and other italian fayre then at the Parnell Place end of Oliver Plunkett St theres a lovely,airy place called Milanos-again reasonably priced.
Keep away from O Briens sandwich bars everywhere-they're a ripoff.