Hidden gems and secret seats – a guide for lunch lovers who don’t want to fork out

For those pennywise students with a packed lunch, here’s some places you can eat for free

The theoretical benefits of bringing in your own lunch are well known. It’s healthier and pretty much the first tip that comes up if you Google “how to save money as a student”, but many of us will also be able to relate to the struggle of being organised enough to get into the habit of forgoing a Spar chicken fillet roll or Mama’s Revenge burrito.

What’s more, I know that on the rare occasion that I have actually brought lunch with me, my smugness has promptly been squashed on the realisation that having my own food has sentenced me to have to eat it on a floor or windowsill of the Arts Building, because inevitably all the couches are taken. Those in the Hamilton don’t have it much better, the steps and benches not being the most idyllic of lunch settings. In order to address this lack of places to eat your own food in peace, here are some quality suggestions.

First there is the TCDSU kitchen in House 6, a surprisingly underused facility considering it is home to one of the very few microwaves on campus, a bone best left for picking another day. Be warned though, there’s not much room, so don’t expect to be able to settle down with a book for a leisurely lunch, it’s more of an eat and go spot. If you don’t need a microwave you have more options, from the standard arts block couches, windowsills and student space on the fourth floor, to the Hamilton benches and steps.

There are however a couple of lesser-known spots in the Arts Building. Firstly, the mysterious sixth floor. Windowsills though they may be, on the sixth floor they are much more pleasant than the pokey little spots on lower floors, and there are usually fewer people, possibly because you’re not meant to eat up there (so keep it on the down low).

Alternatively, go one floor down and right at the end, just outside the Spanish department office, there is a little green space (to describe it as a garden would be a bit generous). On a sunny day, the door out is often unlocked so you can take your lunch and sit on a bench to get some fresh air, it’s not quite a roof-top terrace, but it beats the floor.

On sunny days, there are a lot of outdoor eating options, with the cricket pitch being the most popular, but if you’re looking to escape the crowds, why not try the Rose Garden, next to the Museum Building. It’s small and intimate, with beautiful flowers all year round, especially in cherry blossom season, making it a wonderful lunch location aesthetic

However, if you fancy a slightly less contemplative lunch, there is the Physiology Garden, the little square of green in front of the Zoology Building. Here the bonus is that you can often count on some lunchtime entertainment in the form of watching Trinity Ultimate Frisbee players procrastinate. However, you might want to keep your wits about you though to avoid being hit by the occasional rogue frisbee.

For those of you wanting to venture off campus a pretty standard lunch destination is St. Stephen’s Green, and with very good reason. It is undeniably lovely, and who doesn’t like watching ducks! But if you do have a little more time, it is well worth heading over to Iveagh Gardens, an underused little pocket of tranquillity behind the National Concert Hall on Clonmel Street. You could even pop in for a very reasonably priced lunchtime concert if you fancied some classical music.

On a rainy day, a ten-minute stroll in the other direction, over the river, will take you to the CHQ building on Custom House Quay. It is a cool space with indoor seating, a bustling atmosphere and great art installations. If you don’t fancy the walk though, try out another very impressive building right on campus, the GMB. Nestled at the top of the stairs is the pool room, which arguably offers much better views than the common room behind the SU café.

So there you have it, on the days when you just can’t face scoffing down a sandwich outside the lecture hall, treat yourself to a more pleasant experience at any of these locations. Best case scenario this list might help us capitalise on the renewed optimism and motivation that temporarily blesses us in the first few weeks of college, and worst case scenario, well there isn’t really one, so dig out those plastic containers (and their elusive lids) and bon appetit!