Stanford’s 12 residential community-based dining halls have many perks such as the vibrant Chicano murals in Stern Dining, the flavorful pho and hearty Thai curries served at Wilbur and the rich desserts at Arrillaga. Many students have strong opinions regarding which dining halls they like or dislike, and why they go to each.
Vikram Sivashankar ’25 described the food at the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons as “kind of miserable.”
“It has some form of bland chicken every single day,” he said, quipping that there’s “a widely-held opinion that if you eat at Arrillaga every single day, by the end of the first quarter you’re basically 70% chicken and 30% human!”
But Sivashankar said that Arrillaga’s bright spot is the desserts. Indeed, Arrillaga often has a wide array of sweet selections, including chocolate and mango cakes, soft serve with toppings, donuts and cookies.
For some students, though, the decision to visit a particular dining hall goes beyond just the food selection, according to Edward Huang ’24.
“If I’m busy with homework or there’s a deadline coming up and I need a quick meal, I’ll go to Arrillaga,” Huang said. “If I want a quiet, peaceful meal I’ll go to Branner.”
Wilbur Dining, on the other hand, offers Huang a more sentimental experience because it is where he goes to “feel nostalgic for the summer because that was a really fun time to eat there.”
Yet the highly-contested question remains: which dining hall do students like the best?
“Stern is my favorite dining hall,” Sivashankar said, who enjoys the burrito bowl station.
Lily Raaka ’24 said that her neighborhood’s dining hall, Gerhard Casper Dining Commons, has the “most amazing roasted vegetables” and “definitely has the best fish,” which sets it apart from other dining halls.
“There’s not really a time that Casper has disappointed me,” Raaka said. “It’s always a solid option.”
While Sivashankar and Raaka both had a favorite dining hall that came to mind, Huang said that the quality of the food at each of the dining halls is comparable.
Sivashankar recommended following the Stanford Dining Instagram page to identify which dining hall to visit each night. For instance, Sivashankar said that Stanford Dining had previously posted about risotto being served at a dining hall.
“You know which dining hall to tackle based on which post looks good,” Sivashankar said.
Stanford Dining has come a long way since the University first opened in 1891, when meals were almost entirely carbohydrate-based and the dining halls were segregated by gender. Now, a variety of fresh food is served daily, and sustainability is emphasized through efforts to reduce food waste and implement plant-forward menus.