By Blake Sharp
Tucked into Jacobson-Sorensen Hall, the Market at Munger is easy to miss even when you’re looking for it, but that makes the find so much more worth it. Right off the Rehnquist courtyard and shaded by palm trees behind the Law School, the Market resides on the first floor of the graduate student residence. The walls are painted with quotes of famous gastronomists including Alice Waters, famous chef of Chez Panisse and inventor of California cuisine, and Grimod de la Reyniere, one of the world’s first restaurant critics from the Napoleonic era. It is currently dressed for the season in festive Halloween and fall decorations.
When walking in, I first notice a fresh-squeezed juice bar to my left and a wooden cart selling local orchids to my right. I am a big impulse buyer and came very close to surprising my roommate with a large and high-maintenance flowering plant. However, I’m quickly distracted as my eyes skip beyond the juice bar to a freezer with a selection of eight different flavors of gelato. As I continue to survey the eclectic place, I see succulents, microwave dinners, bulk trail mix options, kitchen utensils, stationery and a variety of breads. Munger is a great break from the traditional dining halls; I would describe it as a mini-mart meets Whole Foods.
Now, back to that selection of gelato. Usually, I will always go for a variation of coffee ice cream, but the temptation of trying “worms and dirt” won out. The employee gave me a perfect scoop of smooth chocolate gelato mixed with Oreo crumbs and topped with a gummy worm to complete the effect. As I taste it, the concoction reminds me of my brother’s signature birthday dessert: chocolate pudding with green whipped cream and Oreos instead of a more traditional birthday cake.
The potted succulents I mentioned earlier are sitting on top of a wooden case displaying artisan chocolate bars and packages of candy. Once again, I came very close to taking a cactus back to my dorm. I ultimately decided against it, because killing an orchid would be a misfortune, but killing a cactus would be embarrassing.
I pass by the trendy and recognizable neon La Croix labels while walking towards the back wall of freezers and refrigerators. There are frozen pizzas, personal Haagen Daaz ice cream scoops, Talenti gelato, Halo Top low calorie ice cream, frozen waffles and microwave dinners. To the left of the freezer are cooking supplies like pots, utensils, and jars for those who enjoy the art of making food instead of just eating it. Strolling to the other end of the freezers, I pass shelves of breads and cookies. I pick up graham crackers for my teammate (her pregame power meal is the Honey Maid snack paired with Skippy peanut butter). I see the menu of the presently empty hot entree and salad bar tucked in the other back corner, as the market serves dinner from 5-8 p.m. Monday through Friday (until 7 p.m. on Saturday) with options like lasagna Tuesdays and fried chicken Thursdays.
On the left hand side of the shop, there is a display with baskets, wooden crates and barrels filled with fresh produce such as bananas, onions, pomegranates, avocados and persimmons. Another section of Fall vegetables are also spotlighted for the next few weeks with choices ranging from artichokes, broccoli, and cabbage, to snap peas, swiss chard and bok choy.
Overall, I’m quite sure that Munger is the only place on campus where you can buy pain medication, brie, fresh blackberries, orchids, gelato and a birthday card all in one stop. Although a bit on the expensive side, it’s a nice spot to grab a few essentials, some non-essentials and get a break from the crowds at some of the other dining spots on campus. Grimod de la Reynière was accused of taking bribes from his restaurant reviewers – I can assure you I have done no such thing, but would still recommend a visit to the Market at Munger.
Contact Blake Sharp at blakesharp ‘at’ stanford.edu.