Eating for Free in SLO

24 Apr

This past week has been a hunt for the most inexpensive eats, and as it turns out many can be found at the best price of all….FREE. Of course, there is a little work involved, and it depends how far you are willing to go. This is especially for voracious fans of tacos and pizza, as this is usually the free food available.

Marisol Restaurant at the Cliffs Resort

A taco salad made with all the fixings

The happy hour at the Cliffs Resort is the easiest of free meals. Every Monday through Wednesday from 4-6p.m., the Marisol Restaurant supplies a complimentary  taco bar. This includes flour and corn tortillas, ground beef, cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, jalepeños, and chips. On Thursdays, this is replaced with a woodfire pizza and pasta bar, complete with spaghetti and a myriad of sauces.

After chatting around, I met Stephen Gilmore, a local Cal Poly student, who frequents the resort about twice a week. “I have never come by myself, but I have definitely considered it,” he said Tuesday, tilting his head with a slightly embarrassed smile. “But easy, free food! And the atmosphere? It is the best in town.”

The beautiful view from the blacony of the Marisol restaurant, at the Cliffs resort

“There have been weeks that I have eaten all three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for free.” -Becca Weaver

If you have the energy and a social appetite as well, free food can be found all over Cal Poly campus. Becca Weaver, a social club butterfly at Cal Poly, has made her way into many campus clubs, mainly for the food. She was wary to reveal most of her secrets, but claimed “there have been weeks that I have eaten all three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for free.”

Another club for the list, Communication Studies club, meets every third Tuesday with pizza and baked goods in Building 10, Room 225

Some of the clubs she mentioned were SWE (Society of Women Engineers) every other Wednesday for pizza, and Mat Pica Phi, the Graphic Communication club, Thursday nights. When asked how she found out about these events, she said “I just look look at flyers on campus, or sign up for their mailing lists.”

Her carefree attitude makes it obvious she has been doing this for a while. “It can be a little embarrassing,” she says while laughing. “Like with the Sales Engineering. There are only three girl members, so they definitely notice when I show up.” However, she claims this is the jackpot of club events because they bring in “Firestone, sushi, and others from all over downtown.”

If you are looking for a variety in your UU lunch hour routine, head over to the Food Science Club in Bluilding 24, Room 113. Dr. Amanda Lathrop is the head of this club, and says they provide a variety of food for club members, such as teriyaki chicken, ravioli, and sandwiches. Sara Rodich, a food science major, goes often, even though she is not a club member.  “It is great food, and you really don’t have to pay.”


Another more altruistic route to free food is through volunteering. GleanSLO is a project done by the Food Bank coalition of San Luis Obispo, where farmers allow volunteers to go out and pick their crop surplus after it has already been commercially harvested, or when there will not be enough profit to make it feasible. The crop that would otherwise be wasted benefits many underprivileged San Luis Obispo residences. As of April 21, Glean has picked 13,701 pounds of assorted apples, avocados, artichokes, grapefruit, lemons, lettuce, oranges, and tangerines for the community at large.

This is also an opportunity for a college student to snack on some apples, or whatever else is grown on the borrowed land. Stephen Gilmore helped them pick apples in the fall. “You get to munch on apples while you help picking, and take some home with you,” he said.


Whether you are looking for a snack, or a full meal San Luis Obispo, there is always something out there. For those of you who do have a couple extra dollars to spend, an extra page has been added to keep track of weekly food specials. If interested in more nighttime snacking, is also a website devoted to happy hours and appetizers, called SLO Happy Hours, listing them both by establishment and day of the week.


3 Responses to “Eating for Free in SLO”

  1. learnbylivingcp May 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    This is great. Definitely info I wouldn’t be able to find by googling the topic! 🙂

  2. stangball May 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Wait so….I just show up to Marisol at the specific time of day and I get to eat free tacos?! Do I have to buy a drink or something? How is this possible!!!! lol

    Also a suggestion: When you at hyperlinks, be sure to check the box that says “open page in new tab” so that I don’t have to keep pressing the back button. 🙂

    • Kelley May 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      Haha, you don’t need to buy anything! It is the Happy Hour appetizer for the hotel. Monday through Thursday, 4-6!

      Thank for the suggestion. I always forget that little box.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: