Take-away sandwich bar serving natural and organic foods. Very busy at lunchtime - can preorder.
Opening hours: Mon - Sat 10.30am - 4pm. Fair Trade and where possible, organic and locally sourced food and drink. Wheelchair friendly.
Fair Trade products, Organic, Locally-sourced & Free Range products Fair Trade and where possible, organic and locally sourced food and drink.
Cuisine: Veg/Vegan friendly & salads & sandwiches.
89 Covered Market
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Latest venue reviews
The only bonus to breaking my shoulder (eg. means I can't cook!) has meant that I have been eating at the Alpha Bar daily. With a wonderful selection of hot food and the fantastic salads it is working out cheaper than cooking at home. And it is never boring, as the hot food menu changes daily, and there is such a variety of salads you never have to have the same combination twice.
Flower (Unverified), 30/06/12
I love the salads from the Alpha Bar - delicious cous cous, rice and lentil combinations and the roasted veg is really tasty but it seems to be getting more expensive everytime I go and the portions are getting smaller (though perhaps it depends on the server) - for £3.95 for a box I'd expect a generous few scoops of each salad.
Tamara (Unverified), 30/04/12
The food is gorgeous and so are the staff! Excellent, friendly, helpful service. Well worth the price.
jerry (Unverified), 11/03/12
Some of the best sandwiches in Oxford! Don't feel limited to having a mere salad - put it between bread! It's fairly expensive, but these are quality ingredients.
Timbo (Unverified), 03/09/10
Alpha Bar has amazing food & great tasting salad.
Unfortunately, there are so many things wrong with the system there that it makes getting a salad an expensive headache that leaves the customer resentful, confused and disappointed.
The salad bar is laid out with an appealing array of delicious looking food. But wait - you can have 3 "salads" and 1 main, for £3.30. There is no markings to indicate what is a salad and what is a main. There is no clear price for if you don't want a main, but would rather have an extra salad.
I wanted to have half a portion of two salads instead of 1 big portion and was made to feel like this was somehow a huge headache for the staff, even though the salad is all priced the same and comes out of adjacent huge tubs.
The price of one extra scoop of salad or a scoop of sauce like hummus is ridiculous and brings the total cost up to just under £5 for a small salad box. I can get a fresh salad in Pret a Manger for £3.99 with veg, hummus, seeds, flat bread, roast squash, tomatoes and lettuce.
Sorry Alpha Bar, but your prices and bad customer service makes me very reluctant to return.
MadameOlenska (Unverified), 19/04/10
For vegetarians, I can think of no better place to get a lunch in Oxford. The tofu is to die for; chewy, marinated, full of flavour, not the bland rubbery stuff that most Brits think of as 'tofu'. Salads are fresh and well-dressed, the rice moreish and comfort foody. And the seeds . . . at first I wondered why they were so keen to dispense them, but now I see why.
Eddy (Unverified), 16/01/10
We went to the Alpha Bar for a quick lunch on a day trip to Oxford and thought it was fantastic. My boyfriend isn't usually into 'healthy' food, but he really enjoyed both his toasted sandwich, and my salad. Loads of people seem to be annoyed about the pricing changes, but our lunch only came to around £7-£8 all together, including a drink. Our service was ridiculously friendly even when my boyfriend held up the queue as he was so dazzled by the sheer choice on offer.
Frank had a caesar chicken, roasted vegetables and green pesto toasted ciabatta - which was, in his words, 'fab'. It was refreshingly garlicky, unlike usual chicken sandwiches which are often too sickly. My tuna and pesto salad was also delicious and was really filling. I really like the way they offer you toasted seeds on top of your salad.
Overall, we could not find fault, and will definitely lunch there again.
Emily & Frank (Unverified), 27/07/09
I really like this place and the food is fantastic - the salads are yummy and the sandwiches are to die for. What really lets this place down is the speed of the service. I have spent ages queueing here in the past, so today I timed it. There were only 6 people in the queue ahead of me when I got there at 1.20 pm, and I waited just over 14 minutes to be served. It shouldn't take that long to put salad in a box, and when on a short lunch break, it's really disappointing. Better organisation would go a long way to sorting this out. In the end, my salad was lovely though!
Sarah (Unverified), 16/07/09
I would like to disagree that the salads are too expensive, I think the pricing has gone back down! I get a delicious box for my lunch and it comes to about £3 - £4. Sometimes it is even cheaper than the set price it was before and NOW I can choose as many ingredients and combinations as I like. Only the organic chicken is 30p extra. A fair price I think for the wonderful organic healthy food and it is also incredibly tasty. The staff are also very friendly, even in the popular lunch time rush.
Old & new customers should give it another try!
Tofu (Unverified), 12/06/09
Count me among the old regulars who have stopped going to Alpha Bar. I used to absolutely love this place, and would visit at least four times a week, but I hate the new pricing policy. Sometimes I get cravings for one of their salads (I always get rice, lentils, roast veg, tofu and pesto) and so I will splurge on a lunch here, but it always makes me sad for the good old days. Also a warning: the green pesto, that used to be delicious, has seemed extremely bitter for the last year. Try the red pesto instead.
I used to really like going to Alpha Bar, especially the one in the Covered Market, since the one on the Woodstock Road had sullen, rude staff working there at the time. The salads were great, healthy and interesting, although I would get annoyed at the habit staff had of refusing to fill the boxes to the top. However, they didn't have much competition in Oxford when it came to healthy, tasty fast food.
Unfortunately, the pricing has gone through the roof and I don't see how it can be justified since many of the salad choices are basic, i.e. rice, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, coleslaw. I haven't been for months and I won't be going again as I can't justify paying over £5.50 for a small salad at lunch.
Amie (DI User), 30/11/08
I used to love this place, but they're definitely putting their prices up for their salads. First they mixed tofu with beans so that you ended up with less tofu in your portion; now they're charging by weight. I went for a smaller version of my usual order, asked for smaller portions of things and missed out one of the salads, and it came to £5.31 instead of the usual £3.45. I won't be going back either - it used to be a slightly pricey lunchtime treat, but I don't think I can justify it any more. Wonder if they'll change their minds about the new policy when they lose all their regulars?
I love the salad boxes, but they've changed all the pricing there now and you don't know how much you're going to pay until they weigh it at the end. I went for my usual combination, and it was £1 more expensive. I already thought it was quite pricey at £3.45 a box, so I don't think I'll be going back anymore.
Anon (Unverified), 30/09/08
Wow nibchoc (raw choc bar) now in Alpha bar too.....yum, yum....
RW (Unverified), 30/10/07
Alpha Bar is my favourite place ever! I live in Devon but eat here every time I visit Oxford. The food is so gorgeous, and it tastes like nothing you have had before. Not only is it really healthy but really the best food you will have in Oxford! I just wish there was one where I lived in Devon as I would go there every day!
Netta G (Unverified), 14/06/07
Have gotten my lunch from Alpha Bar several times and I have to admit it is one of the best places to eat.
I am generally VERY picky and quite snobby with regards to food; I like to eat quite healthy.
When I go to Alpha Bar I am at ease with what to eat; i trust that the food is good food with no additives, preservatives and all the other nasties.
Their salads are great and I tend to agree that a small box for lunch is filling. I have also had their toasted sandwhiches which are also fabulous and a very decent size.
Food is reasonably priced.
Best of all the food tastes great!
VW (Unverified), 07/06/07
I can honestly say that the best salads I have ever had have come from this place. It is so inexpensive, yet such fantastic quality. Since leaving Oxford I have missed it dreadfully. The mackerel is actually sublime.
Cate (Unverified), 28/04/07
When you buy something from Alpha Bar, you feel like you're doing something good for your body. Portions look small but are actually surprising filling, a small salad is perfectly substantial for lunch. Try the olive tapenade... heavenly! Infact, I think I'll grab something there tomorrow. Plus the good you're doing to the body by eating here, means that you're allowed to treat yourself to a Ben's Cookie at the same time.
Oxford Student (Unverified), 01/04/07
Daughter loves the venue but has a fatal nut allergy, and on Friday was rushed to hospital with nut reaction and life was threatened for a while - maybe from pesto which could have had cashew nuts as well as pine nuts.....?
What a wonderful surprise to find this oasis of fresh, tasty, healthy, cheap food. The service was also great. I miss it already.
sally minns (Unverified), 21/01/07
Fantastic food, and a student discount during the week which is great. Their salads are always fresh, healthy and organic, and service is always very pleasant, even at their busiest times. Just be warned - say if you don't want seeds on your salad as they don't always ask!
Spent a few days in Oxford last month and bought salad boxes from the Alpha Bar in the covered market every day. Couldn't believe the healthy choice available - I'm a vegetarian (almost vegan) but my husband does eat occasional meat and both of us were more than satisfied. So refreshing to have such a tasty selection of vegan food. The vegan coleslaw is a refreshing change from the normal coleslaw normally served. Would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Oxford.
This is the best place I have ever eaten food. Being vegan I had almost given up on finding somewhere in the centre of Oxford to get good food from. This place was recommended to me by a friend and it blew me away! The food is organic, delicious, and not at all expensive, especially considering the quality of food you're getting. I ended up going here everyday, the variety is great.
Soups, sandwiches, salads, cakes. The tofu that I have eaten there is by far the best I have, and probably will ever, eat. If you're not the sort of person that would normally choose tofu, you should do it here (unless you're allergic to soya). Delicious with their olive tapenade!!!!! I've just moved away from Oxford and miss this place more than anything else I think!!!! If you can, eat here. Don't be put off by large queues at lunchtime, it's worth it!
Griggsy (Unverified), 08/10/06
Just to update this page on the offerings at Alpha Bar, they're as good as ever.
For a small salad, choose 3 salads (usually something like couscous, brown rice, salad greens, roasted veg, salsa-esque tomatoes and stuff, slaw w/o a brit sized portion of mayo, carrot and seaweed, tomato basil, etc.), top with one main (tofu, tuna fish, mackerel, chicken of some variety, goat, mozzarella, or some other type of cheese), and top it all with one topping (red pesto, green pesto, black bean salad, hummous, etc.), and seeds if desired and you've got yourself a meal. You can also get a large salad (add more of everything) or a sandwich (especially good toasted).
Don't be fooled--eating a large portion of goat's cheese on top of olive oil roasted veggies with a dallop of cheese filled green pesto is not low fat or low calorie. But it is filled with all kinds of nutrients, is the best salad I've encountered in the UK, and for once, is not filled with crap that has been crusting over in a semi-refrigerated display case for a few days. By far, the best tasting lunch to be had in Oxford and cheaper than making your own salad of similar quality ingredients.
lotusmoss (Unverified), 19/07/06
Without a doubt the best chicken salad I have ever eaten. I got the one straight off of the board, chicken, mixed leaves, red pesto...at least two other ingredients that have now escaped my memory, topped with a healthy handful of mixed toasted seeds (optional for those worried about allergies).
Its not often you eat something that tasty and can still feel virtuous.
Seriously, eat there.
Clouddweller (Unverified), 05/06/06
If you like your food natural, tasty and produced for a healthy conscience as well as a healthy customer then the Alpha Bar in the covered market will be a welcome discovery. A take-away with a smattering of tables, the recently refurbished Alpha Bar offers an alternative to the standard sandwich-shop experience. At first glance it appears the usual fare is offered - sandwiches, salad boxes, a few cakes, all washed down with fruit juices, teas or the ubiquitous latte. Look a little closer and you will see that the tastebuds are challenged beyond the usual Tuna Mayonnaise and Coronation Chicken.
A variety of interesting breads - including wheat-free, the first I've seen in Oxford - host fillings such as falafel, salsa and hummus or black bean, tofu and seaweed. Choose your own or buy from a selection of ready-made. A word of warning - don't think you'll have one as a snack before dinner at your partner's parents, these sandwiches are going to fill you up.
Salad boxes come in two sizes and enable a mixture of different flavours - tempeh (Indonesian soya bean spread), puy lentils, roasted veg, cous-cous, goat's cheese, pesto. If these sound alarmingly too vegetarian, tuna, mackerel or chicken are also available.
Ingredients and products are locally or nationally sourced from small socially and environmentally responsible outlets wherever possible, avoiding the large corporations. Organic and Fairtrade products are also favoured. A separate catering kitchen produces homemade hummus, pesto, soup and freshly squeezed fruit juices or smoothies. For those of a sweeter tooth several cakes are available, mostly suitable for those with food allergies and all well-labelled. There is a latte among the selection of hot drinks but it is Fairtrade and Organic!
Prices are reasonable and comparable with large, big name competitors. Owner Will Pouget is enthusiastic about his ethical message and encourages his friendly and helpful staff to be the same. His aim is to provide good quality affordable food. A growing band of regulars appear testament that he is achieving this aim.
Rick Pearl (Unverified), 21/10/05
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