Universities are known for many things—sports, arts, academics, meeting report deadlines, and, of course, great drinking binges. A lot of the latter tends to take place at the student bar, and the University of Iceland caters to this time honoured tradition splendidly at Stúdentakjallarinn.
Housed in the basement of its most recent campus addition, the bar is modelled along the lines of an American bar—or perhaps this is just the unspoken design code of student bars worldwide. There are dark, comfy couches, a large screen, seating aplenty, and the air is thick with the smell of beer and nachos.
Hangry and shameless
Stúdentakjallarinn is open every day, and at university lunch hour, be prepared to wade through a sea of students, professors and off-the-street plebs like me looking for a steal. My partner and I patiently waited to place and pay for our orders, watching ‘Anchorman’ playing on mute on the big screen. Hangry and shameless I ordered the these-came-out-of-a freezer-pack dish of coconut shrimp (1,590 ISK), tortilla pizza with Parma ham (1,590 ISK) and the cellar burger (1,490 ISK).
The shrimps are deep fried and come with a swimming bowl of wakame. Talk about assuaging guilt over fat. I’ve enjoyed the tortilla pizza on several occasions, and their popularity is well deserved—the portions are massive, the toppings generous and all sense of established food order thrown out the window (guac on a tortilla pizza? Sign me up!). Many end up with leftovers—a win-win, in my book! All around us, nacho mountains were being demolished with gusto, burgers chomped down, and the beer was free flowing, even on a weekday afternoon.
Where Stúdentakjallarinn really shines is in its regular events and spunky regular offers—Shitbroke Friday, anyone? I have a soft spot for their Nerd Nights, the most recent one bringing together the cosmos, love, and the history of yo-yoing, because.. why not?
Surprisingly for a student bar joint, Stúdentakjallarinn is also strangely family and child-friendly. After lunch hour and early evening, it tends to be quite laid back—a perfect opportunity for younger patrons to catch a bite, their parents to catch a breath or watch a Sunday screening.
Awash with nostalgia
Those with a valid student card can really put all those beer offers to good use. Beers are priced at 590 ISK, a steal by any measure. For alums who’ve long graduated, this year the Student Union—which runs Stúdentakjallarinn—is turning fifty. Fittingly, they’re offering birthday beers for 50 ISK on every last Monday of the month. Whether it’s a celebration of perfect test scores or drowning your sorrows after failing a class, there’s enough beer, music and movies for everyone.
My partner and I ate our meal in silence, eavesdropping on the conversations around us about tough professors, the origins of their grandmothers’ names, arguments over the best interpretation of assignments, and side-eyeing the class crush. It was a true encapsulation of universities being a world unto themselves, and we walked out awash with nostalgia.
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