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The worst of Stanford dining

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Stanford Dining has smash hits. They brought us feasts like the Mardi Gras, Día de los Muertos, Diwali and Lunar New Year celebrations. I am an avid fan of dishes like their homestyle mac, American style mashed potatoes (with skins) or goat cheese and arugula salad. However, it is time we celebrate the meals and dishes that didn’t quite meet the mark — the nights when maybe DoorDash or a midnight roll-out to TAP was the better option: the worst of Stanford dining.

Disclaimer: As an uninformed and woefully ignorant East Campus freshman, I am most familiar with the cuisines served by Stern, Wilbur, Branner and Arrillaga. I have stepped out of my comfort zone and ventured to West Campus for Lakeside a few times and have enjoyed a singular meal from one of the Suites dining halls (a truly memorable and fulfilling experience complete with duck confit and Nutella-filled doughnut holes). Therefore, these lists are mostly informed by what peers have mentioned. That being said, I watched someone pour balsamic vinaigrette onto white rice recently, so I believe I have more credibility than some when it comes to palate and food criticism.

The Unanimously Hated (in no specific order):

  1. The “Old College Try” ramen
  2. Steamed vegetables
  3. Falafel so dry it crumbles before eating
  4. Undercooked salmon
  5. Overcooked salmon
  6. Tater tots a fork can’t pierce
  7. Mashed potatoes that hurt your jaw to chew on and pass the upside-down test
  8. Baked potstickers that crack like seashells
  9. Egg rolls (Wake up, everyone — they taste how urinals smell.)
  10. Gluelike gnocchi that will end your meal and seal your mouth shut
  11. Sticky rice in the burrito bowls
  12. Paella

A Separate List Just for Chicken:

  1. Pink and raw-in-the-middle chicken
  2. Slightly overcooked chicken
  3. Overcooked chicken
  4. Very overcooked chicken
  5. Charred chicken
  6. So-dry-it-cuts-your-tongue chicken
  7. Chicken that looks like fish but is actually chicken
  8. Chicken whose origin on the body of the chicken is ambiguous
  9. Cubed chicken
  10. Cubed chicken that is dry
  11. This isn’t chicken, but the turkey burger patties with the mouthfeel of a wet paper towel
  12. Chicken that is called ‘Lemon Herbed Chicken’ one night, then ‘Herbed Chicken’ the following night

The Controversies:

  1. The so-called cuisine fusions (Some celebrate the ability to eat a variety of cuisines, but I believe that any instance of dumplings, pesto pasta and mashed potatoes sharing the same plate is atrocious.)
  2. Pad Thai that is actually just noodles and ketchup
  3. The chunky weekend brunch smoothies
  4. The strawberry cake (It just takes like jam.)
  5. The layered chocolate and vanilla custard cake (I am horrified that I have to put this on the list, but I put truthful reporting above all.)
  6. Oatmeal raisin cookies (These are surprisingly good. Please try them.)
  7. Too many burrito bowls in Stern
  8. The pork that is actually really delicious but neon pink in color

All jokes aside, even if a bit of truth lies in each of them, we should be grateful for the work Stanford R&DE and its staff members put into each meal. I am thankful for successes like their s’mores waffles, burrito bowls, FloMo’s Sunday Indian cuisine and any of the pastries during weekend brunch. Still, if there is anything you can count on from Stanford dining, it’s inconsistency.


Contact Griffin Somaratne at gsomara ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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