A widely celebrated holiday in California and especially Isla Vista begins as the sun rises on April 20. Honestly, more students would benefit from having 4/20 off from school than Election Day (that’s what mail-in ballots are for, anyway). But until that motion passes, you can count on a conspicuous number of red-eyed classmates to show up to lecture this Thursday. Whether you find the will to carry on with regularly scheduled activities or choose to spend the day lounging at home with friends, you’ll want to be prepared with the proper snack assortment. However, note that not all munchies are created equal. We asked the Daily Nexus staff to pitch their favorite high cuisines to ensure this 4/20 is your most enjoyable experience yet.
Any raving case of the munchies can be appeased with a solid donut. Sadly, there’s a dearth of donut shops in the area surrounding UC Santa Barbara, limiting my options to a sad bag of Little Debbie Donuts from 7-Eleven or whatever’s left at Spudnuts at the end of the night when my munchies roll around. Unlike typical donut shops, Spudnuts uses potato flour to create their donuts, a practice dating back to 1946. I’ve had the same donut order since the age of five when I would accompany my siblings to our hometown donut shop in the Bay Area, Chuck’s Donuts, after school: It has always been, and always will be, a chocolate old-fashioned donut. Maybe a bag of donut holes too. Oh how I miss Chuck’s and the fact that they were open 24/7 … I digress.
Compared to a bag of chips or candy, a really good old-fashioned donut is more satisfying as it’s denser, not overpoweringly sweet and there’s no disappointing “reach into the bottom of the bag only to find out there’s nothing left” feeling you get when scooping handful after handful of chips from the bag. Plus, a donut pairs nicely with a refreshing glass of milk — in my case, almond milk — to wash it all down and quench my thirst, or in certain cases cotton mouth. My only critique of Spudnuts is their shockingly early closing time of 8 p.m., but I guess I can plan accordingly and snag a donut before they close their doors for the night and my evening shenanigans unfold.
Fried tofu for a fried brain
The munchies always present a different craving. Sometimes you’d like a sweet, creamy treat, and other times you want a savory, spicy snack. Every time I feel like I need a little savory something, my first trip is always to Kaiju for some delicious fried tofu. It’s crunchy, well spiced and absolutely divine for the fried brain. I fixate on the satisfyingly crispy outside and relish the soft tofu inside in a way only the high brain can comprehend.
And of course, let’s not forget about the most annoying symptom of smoking: cotton mouth. Kaiju’s grand variety of delicious boba helps. I always love some Hokkaido milk tea with egg pudding. The sweet milk tea is quite a lovely pair to the fried tofu. Have the munchies? Definitely check out Kaiju!
Dank Bowl Kitchen
Oh, Dank Bowl Kitchen … is this too obvious of an answer? I don’t care. No one is there for me like Dank Bowls’s Mac Daddy. There is a delightful range of sauces to choose from, transforming the ordinary (but oh so extraordinary!) mac and cheese into a flavor bomb of your choosing. Personally, I am a pesto aioli loyalist. A comparable flavor range is offered for the toppings, including chipotle black beans, pickled jalapeños, pico de gallo, roasted veggies, mashed potatoes and even Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Dank Bowl Kitchen offers a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian options — my favorite is the pulled jackfruit — and even has a gluten-free rice bowl, ensuring that no person suffering from a raging case of the munchies in I.V. is excluded.
If Dank Bowl Kitchen is pandering to the stoner community, I say let them. The creamy richness of their mac and cheese paired with the pleasant firmness of their sourdough bowls will satisfy any munchies.
Deja Vu Cafe
The Buffalo Chicken Cheese Fries at Deja Vu are a must have after that 1 a.m. bad trip. Luckily, this classic munchie destination stays open until 2:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Jordeen still owes me $12.49 from the last time we went, but the value of them putting me on to these fries was priceless. However, be warned that this munchie is not for the faint of stomach (or for a weak flush of the toilet).
My munchie selection ranges from completely unexpected to pretty predictable. For example, okra is a vegetable neglected by many, but don’t miss out on Trader Joe’s Crispy Crunchy Okra dipped in chive cream cheese for the ultimate late-night munchie. Another go-to snack is premade cookie dough (especially snickerdoodle flavor). This munchie comes with a couple semi-requirements: 1) someone bought the dough. 2) Someone is sober enough to operate an oven or is the kind of high where they are able to function. If these two conditions are met, freshly baked cookies are divine. Last but not least, homemade weed brownies. Listen, you are already high, but let’s get even higher by having a nibble of a gorgeous weed brownie with walnuts. Trust me, it will overindulge your senses in the best way.
Late night in the 7-Eleven candy aisle
In my experience, most people tend to go straight to sour, fruity candy when the munchies strike: anything from NERDS Gummy Clusters, Sour Patch Kids and Haribo Twin Snakes, to those weird push-pop popsicle things that were cool back in second grade. I’ve never quite understood the connection between inebriated taste buds and citric acid, but then again, I don’t understand why my boyfriend’s go-to munchie meal is a homemade rack of barbeque ribs. Personally, my favorite late-night snack is, and forever will be, Peanut M&M’s.
Sure, it’s a little old school, but there’s no need to keep developing new kinds of enamel-eroding sour candy when the original movie theater snack is already perfection. Odds are you and your friends are already sunken between couch cushions watching an animated film meant for elementary schoolers anyway. Why not lean into the theme and pick up a pack of microwave popcorn at 7-Eleven while you’re at it? Some people think I’m weird for this, but mixing Peanut M&M’s and popcorn together makes some damn good trail mix. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sour and fruity has nothing on the superior combo of sweet and salty.
Nature’s sour candy
The perfect munchies? Frozen grapes — the green ones of course. Something about that icy natural sourness just understands me, you know? Luckily, the Isla Vista Food Cooperative and Isla Vista Market carry this superior fruit. Just make sure to plan this particular munchie in advance, as the produce selection in the local grocery stores dwindles as the day goes on, and the grapes need at least two hours to freeze completely.
A version of this article appeared on p. 14 of the April 20, 2023 version of the Daily Nexus.
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