Stanford discontinued Stern and Wilbur lunch specials — when are they coming back?

Jan. 30, 2022, 8:46 p.m.

As they returned to campus this winter —  in addition to virtual classes and 30-degree nights —  students noticed the absence of some of their favorite dining options. Chief among these absences were Stern burritos, Wilbur pho and the array of lunch specials presented by Cardinal Sage and Star Ginger, cultural dining concepts usually found at the Stern and Wilbur dining halls. 

Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) spokesperson Jocelyn Breeland wrote to The Daily that the absence was temporary. 

“Like employers all over the country, R&DE Stanford Dining has had to adapt to the realities of COVID-19,” Breeland wrote. “In order to continue providing high-quality meals within our staff limitations, we have had to simplify the menu.” 

R&DE hopes to resume Cardinal Sage and Star Ginger on Feb. 14, according to Breeland. 

Cardinal Sage at Stern Dining, by Chef Iliana de la Vega, offered a menu of modern Mexican favorites, including a staple burrito bar that featured slow-marinated meats, flavorful bean and rice options, fresh salsas and guacamole, as well as rotating options of specials drawing inspiration from Chef de la Vega’s innovative Oaxacan cuisine. 

Star Ginger at Wilbur Dining, from Chef Mai Pham, offered an array of Southeast Asian dishes, including curries and salads, with a regular pho bar with vegetarian and chicken versions of the Vietnamese soup.

Students expressed disappointment about the absence of both dining options in interviews with The Daily.

Ishaan Singh ’24 said he understood that COVID-19 created limitations, but that he “really missed eating the specials as those are usually the best meals that there are.” 

“I’m hoping that as Stanford continues to reopen, given that classes are in-person and indoor gatherings and parties are allowed, that the rest of the specials will return as well,” Singh said. “Until then, I’ll patiently wait ’til Wednesday sweet and sour chicken returns at Wilbur.”

Some students seemed more hurt.

“Stern burrito bowls and Wilbur pho are more than just food,” James Clark ’25 said. “They’re a symbol. A symbol of hope. Knowing that at the end of the day I can look forward to enjoying some pho or a burrito bowl gets me through life. But now, they’re gone. And I couldn’t be sadder.”

Felix Zhan ’25 echoed Clark’s disappointment: “Ever since Wilbur stopped serving pho, my quality of life has gone down significantly.” 

Nina Yến Nhi Nguyễn ’25 added that while the pho didn’t feel entirely authentic to her, it was one of her favorite options. 

“As a Vietnamese person, I was holding on to the barely-pho,” she said.

There is hope for these disgruntled students, as the suspension of these items has an end in sight. 

For now, students seeking variation to the usual dining hall staples can look forward to a Lunar New Year menu on Thursday and find updates on dining hall specials in the Stanford Flavor newsletter, available every two weeks in the dining halls.

Contact Oriana at news ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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