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A guide to spending your last meal plan dollars

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Stanford is committed to public service — as am I. As such, I embarked on a culinary adventure to every establishment on campus that accepts meal plan dollars, trying to answer the question: How much “free” food can I possibly finesse? I realized that so many of my peers were unaware of these locations, and so it became a project for the people.

Why waste an inordinate number of meal plan dollars at the end of the year because you don’t want to spend it on waffle fries? Use them all in this last week. If you’ve hit a dining hall slump, look no further! If you’re on the 19-meal plan, look away!

  1. Kikka Sushi

If you’re nostalgic for Safeway sushi, Kikka is the place to go. They’ve got mediocre prepackaged sushi and poke bowls, which, in the words of my brave companion, are alright “if you don’t expect to eat poke.” Plus — sushirritos, which I didn’t have the guts (or $$) to try. Would I revisit the place? Nope. I prefer my sushirritos authentic.

2. Heirlooms

It’s got salads! What more do I need to say? I’m sure their salads are fine, but since I wanted to pretend that I wasn’t in a dining hall, I got a vegetarian panini: I wasn’t aware that mozzarella, pesto and tomatoes could be unappetizing. Maybe stick to the DIY/premade salads. Heirlooms tries to give you those “I’m eating healthy” vibes, but they also sell fat pizza slices for around $4. Would I go there again? If I want salads, I’d rather enjoy the gourmet cuisine of Arrillaga fine dining.

3. BBQ 101

BBQ 101 shares a wall with Heirlooms, so as you walk around the corner, the landscape transforms from “salad-y goodness” to “we love meat.” Since I can’t eat red meat, I had to try the chicken, which did a great job of sucking all of the moisture out of my mouth, despite the sauce. However, they do give you a disproportionate amount of the two side dishes you pick, and cornbread. I was pleasantly surprised by the gently spiced mac and cheese, but was not fond of the rest of my massive plate. Vegetarians — not the move.

4. Decadence

Did someone say cacao nibs? Decadence will make it feel like you’ve got a classy way to spend money. This dessert place is my personal favorite of all the Tresidder options, because they have pretty sweet gelato, and because their employees make me feel warm and welcome. They also have crepes, acai bowls, cookies and waffle bowls.

5. Alumni Cafe

Moving away from Tresidder, I visited the Alumni Cafe, a small place tucked into the side of the Arillaga Alumni Center. I swung by for breakfast for an acai bowl. Their specialty is the “smashed avo on toast with poached egg,” which sounds amazing if you like avocados. For other meals, they’ve got pretty basic sandwiches and “chef-curated bowls,” which are great for when you need something filling but also good for you.

6. Olives

A pleasant surprise in the basement of Wallenberg, Olives is a great pick-me-up after a particularly grueling PWR class. You will find me there nearly every week with the Cheesy Waffle Dip, a three-cheese grilled sandwich that they stick in a waffle press and serve with tomato soup. It’s phenomenal, and if you forget where you are, you only need to look down to see the Stanford logo. They also have a pretty good salmon and rice plate, and other sandwiches named after campus landmarks.

7. Forbes Family Cafe

Huang isn’t the only reason to visit this part of campus. Forbes Family Cafe offers DIY bowls, pho, paninis and other rotating options. I tried the chicken laksa. I’ve never tried real laksa before, but I was a fan. It was actually spicy — something I’m not used to here — noodly and warm. Honestly, a lot of its menu overlaps with other places on this list, so there’s no real reason to choose this place over any other — unless, of course, you live in the Engineering Quad.

8. Munger Market

While it’s not a restaurant, Munger is the place to go when you want to forget you’re a college student. Buy some groceries! Snacks! Do yourself a favor and try the gelato. Let yourself feel like you’ve got your life together.

9. The Axe & Palm

How could I ever forget TAP? We’ve all ended up here after a long night. We’ve all eaten one greasy waffle fry too many. No matter your feelings about it, it’s a cultural staple of this campus. If you’re looking to diversify your cuisine, maybe look elsewhere. If you really just need a mozzarella stick (thanks, ASSU) in your body right now, TAP’s the move.

Contact Anushree Thekkedath at anuthekk ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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