Since spring has sprung here on the Farm, I’ve been finding myself coming up with more and more excuses to spend time outside. Given Stanford’s incredible and extensive campus, one can do virtually anything outside – study on the Oval, go for a run at the Dish or eat al fresco. While I am a passionate picnicker, picnicking isn’t always feasible in an awkward hour between two classes. Instead, I have found a few favorite on-campus spots to lunch that offer outdoor seating as well as the best food on campus.
The Arbuckle Café at the Stanford Graduate School of Business is a phenomenal option for lunch on campus. The cafe, run by the Bon Appetite Management Company, uses local and sustainable ingredients and offers various healthy and tasty options. With the menu rotating daily, there is always something new to try: made-to-order sushi, flatbread pizzas, soups and my personal favorite, the salad bar. This is no ordinary salad bar – it offers ingredients I actually want to eat as opposed to the canned veggies and other food-like substances that typically end up in salad bars. The offerings include seasonal produce; some of my favorites toppings are the beets, roasted butternut squash, farro, homemade dressings and croutons. The only downside to Arbuckle is the background chatter about consulting, references and job offers, but given the quality of the food, as well as the extensive outdoor seating, I am willing to get over my qualms about pretension.
Another prime lunch spot on campus, the Cool Café at the Cantor Arts Center, is pretty unknown among undergraduates even though it has been open since 2000. The Cool Café is definitely worth checking out – the food is incredibly fresh, made with local and sustainable ingredients. Apart from offering a respite from the food found in dining halls on campus, the Cool Café is a nice break from the constant networking and “shop talk” of the graduate school eateries, (especially given that it is mostly frequented by visitors of the museum). My favorites include the beet salad, the veggie mushroom burger and the butternut squash soup. Additionally, they offer burgers and hot dogs made with local beef for the conscientious carnivore. The beet salad isn’t some wimpy plate of lettuce garnished with one small beet – au contraire – it is a colorful arrangement of beets, spiced walnuts, feta and herbs, served with a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette and part of an organic baguette. The Cool Café’s menu also includes various sandwiches, salads and wraps. The outdoor seating provides diners with a beautiful view of the Rodin sculpture garden, and, for a second, it’s easy to forget that one is at school. The only downside is that, given the high quality of the ingredients, it is a bit more expensive than the other on-campus options. Additionally, it is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Although it can often be hard to find the time to go outside and enjoy nature and nice weather, everyone’s gotta eat. So why not check off two boxes and enjoy the best food and views that campus has to offer?