Hey UTA! Here's Your Guide to Cheap Grub in Arlington

Classes at UT Arlington started late last week and everyone is excited about the new fancy-pants $160 million College Park District, which includes a 7,000-seat center for sports, concerts and general hoopla (like commencement ceremonies). The 20-acre area on the east side of campus also has new dorms and "lofts" flanked by small restaurants, and since it's a state-mandate to teach kids about commuting, there's also a huge parking garage.

With more than 33,000 students each semester, the area around central Arlington is growing out of its pants so quickly you honestly wouldn't even recognize it. In what use to be a row of used car lots and furniture shops (well, there are still a lot of those), there's a bevy of new restaurants, like Twisted Root, Flying Fish, Babe's and soon, a Torchy's and Freebirds. All are within walking distance of UTA. Not that anyone would walk, we're just saying they could.

But, in an effort to make UTA and central Arlington feel more like home to all the displaced eager-to-learn young souls, we've put together a rough guide to some off-the-beaten path restaurants that will be kind to their thin wallet, or insufficient debit card.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.