HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Student Eats by Stanford

I've noticed that there's nothing cheap by Stanford. It's not that Stanford students aren't poor, it's that Palo Alto isn't a college town, and Palo Alto isn't poor. So here's a plea:

Anybody know good, cheap places by (within a half hour's walk) Stanford? Because currently I'm limited to the dining hall and Dominoes.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Pluto's (University and Cowper) has big salads and good sanwiches/plates. Also, Miyaki on University is popular with students but the quality is, well - so so at best. If you are near the San Antonio Ave. area for some other reason (too far to walk), the TK noodle house has big bowls of pho for under $5.

    1. have u try Thai Cafe @ Main Quad? (but they closed during student breaks)

      1. Pizza My Heart on University Ave is another great option too.

        Pizza My Heart
        220 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

        1. Sushi House in Palo Alto Town and Country seems reasonable to me.

          Might be farther than 1/2 hour, but Oasis on El Camino in Menlo Park used to be a favorite for burgers. Also in Menlo Park is Cooks Seafood. I like their clam chowder and fish and chips (Mate = Halibut).

          1. California Ave is a 5 minute drive, 10 minute bike ride from campus. It has some cheaper options than downtown PA, including: Cho's -- very inexpensive (not great) dim sum, Mediterranean Wraps --cheap & generally well-reviewed wraps, JJ&F -- huge and fairly priced sandwiches, Szechwan Cafe -- full lunches with soup/salad for around $7-$8, and a couple of relatively inexpensive Mexican options including Salsa & the restaurant inside Antonio's nuthouse, .... plus Izzy's bagels, IMO the best on the Peninsula.

            6 Replies
            1. re: doc

              I'lll second the "not great", as in spit-out-your-food terrible aspect of Cho's.

              Cho's Restaurant
              213 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

              Mediteranean Wraps
              425 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

              Szechwan Cafe
              406 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

              Antonio's Nut House
              321 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

              Izzy's Brooklyn Bagels
              477 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

              J J & F Food Store
              520 College Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                I admit to actually liking the flavor of the pork potstickers .... although sometimes you need a hacksaw to get thru the wrappers ...

                1. re: doc

                  Ha! The yin and yang of Cho's . . .

                  Pluto's Fresh Food
                  482 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                  T K Noodle
                  357 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                2. re: Melanie Wong

                  Cho's Mandarin Dim Sum used to appear on Michael Bauer's Pink Section annual "Top 50 Bargain Bites" list, cementing my skepticism re "Top 50" lists *and* caucasian reviews of asian restaurants.

                  1. re: Rockman

                    Yes, during that period of time, it was clear that Bargain Bites was the Chron's stepchild who was completely neglected.

                3. re: doc

                  I'm a big fan of Cho's, but I haven't been in a while. I used to eat there a lot when visiting friends at Stanford. I thought they did quite well with the basics, BBQ pork bun, various dumplings etc.

                4. kirk's steakburgers in the town & country mall is a student fave too.

                  In Menlo Park there is a very popular cafe that is great for study groups and meeting friends. Its called Cafe Boronne and they are open for breakfast and lunch with lots of outside seating.

                  Kirk's Steakburgers
                  855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                  Cafe Borrone
                  1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: sgwood415

                    "kirk's steakburgers in the town & country mall is a student fave too."

                    Just don't bring a backpack with you. I sort of disagree that kirk's is a student fave, the current management treats (high school) students rather rudely. I don't remember seeing college aged students eating there. And, I don't like their burgers.

                    1. re: Alan408

                      I think there's a big difference between the old Kirks that used to be located on Califronia Ave and the new one in Town & Country. I had 2 kids in PAHS & as Alan stated, the owners were worse than rude ... in one case they actually threw an offending backpack over a fence. I really don't know what anybody could steal from Kirk's, (condiments?) so I really don't get their "no backpack policy". All that aside, the burgers have gone decidedly downhill since they moved & the "fries" were never particularly good. So I vote no on Kirk's as well ... you're much better off in Town & Country at the sushi place or the Village Cheese House for sandwiches.

                      1. re: doc

                        Was "no backpacks" sort of a proxy discriminator for "no students"?

                        1. re: psb

                          I think it is a proxy or "we don't know how to run a restaurant next to Palo Alto High School" ... must be tough dealing with all those ghetto kids ...

                          1. re: doc

                            I think the OP was referring to college students. When I was last at Kirk's there were lots of college age kids chowing down there.

                  2. The Elbe - first block on University, used to have (believe it still does) $5 lunch specials. Pretty good deal. Second California Avenue spots - especially Mediterranean Wraps. Also Rojos in Town and Country shopping center (take Galvez on campus to El Camino) has some inexpensive wraps.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jcr1

                      Rudy's pub shares a kitchen with Elbe and offers up a darn good $5 lunch complete with a soft drink....

                    2. Hyderabad House on University near Borders has fantastic Indian food. It's self-service and very reasonably priced.


                      Hyderabad House
                      448 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                      1. There's a place on the Stanford campus that offers a lobster burrito for about $5. It's called the Treehouse and I haven't tried it myself, but for $5 what've you got to lose?

                        Here's one review:


                        1. Try Fresh Taste Chinese on El Camino just off Stanford avenue. They have wonderfully fresh vegetables and their service is so friendly. They have student specials available with SUID:

                          Also, is the Psych Building's Thai Cafe open this summer? If so, GO!

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: foodiegrl

                            We went to Fresh Taste whenever we had five dollars. Looking back, we were all college rubes with five dollars ordering sweet and sour chicken, but they were always gracious hosts. Glad to hear it's still the same.

                            And I never got MSG headache.

                            1. re: orezscu

                              DH & I still stop by when we're in town for old-time's sake. The steamed chicken & vegetables with garlic sauce is fresh, bright and even low-fat -- a far cry from the old sweet & sour chix of yore.

                              Also, according to the Daily, the Jordan Hall Thai Cafe is open in the Psych building during the Summer on weekdays. OP should definitely check that out.

                              1. re: foodiegrl

                                A few years back, the thai cafe was on the basement level of the math building, so if you go looking just go around lunch and check the below ground level courtyards on the interior side of the math, psych, and other nearby buildings for people eating pad thai and other stuff out of takeaway containers.

                                The cafe in the law school also does a so-so sandwich that satisfies in a pinch.

                                1. re: SteveG

                                  I haven't eaten at the Thai Cafe, but more than one person has told me there's a "soup nazi" aspect to it. You had better be ready with your ordering decision from the short menu by the time your moment comes up.

                            2. re: foodiegrl

                              Try Jade Palace instead at the end of California Avenue close to the Caltrain station. It just opened a few months ago, and it's a serious contender for the best Cantonese (or any Chinese for that matter) restaurant in the local area. Owner Jenny Tang said she would extend a 10% discount to any Stanford folks, and like every Chinese restaurant (except Peking Duck Restaurant), they have a myriad of affordable lunch specials.


                              1. re: vincentlo

                                Vincent, Jade Palace has been on my radar since seeing KK's post about its planned opening. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/34765...

                                Here's another thread on it. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/413810

                                Could you comment on your favorites there?

                                - - - - - - -
                                Chowing with the Hounds Potluck Picnic, 10/6/2007 in Tilden Park
                                Registration is open!

                                Jade Palace
                                151 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                1. re: vincentlo

                                  I still haven't been to Jade Palace yet but had some rather disappointing takeout leftovers one time, including a rather chewy braised red wine oxtail that required some Conan Caveman teeth skills to wrestle the meat off the bone.

                                  But if this is the same Chinese/Macanese chef from the previous restaurant Lucky Buddha at Jade Palace, it should be pretty good if they nail it down when they do. Mom has been at least twice to JP, and was not terribly impressed. Hopefully it was off-days on those visits.

                                  Vincent, I'm curious if this place now does some authentic Shun Tak (a place in Canton province) dishes.

                                  Please also elaborate on Wynn's Mountain View that you mentioned before, the restaurant that took over the aweful T&C China Bistro. A friend said some of the Joy Luck Cupertino people left and opened up the new place. I've yet to go, but maybe will try it this week for lunch and see what the fuss is all about.

                                  1. re: K K

                                    I think it's pretty clear Jade Palace and Wynn's are the two New Kids on the Block. They are very good, especially considering the lack of decent Cantonese restaurants in the area. For a long time Hong Kong Restaurant is the only kid on the block, and it's so-so but at least it's Cantonese.

                                    I didn't see any Shun Tak dishes in Jade Palace's menu, but you will see little bits of southeast Asian influences in the dishes since Jenny grew up in Vietnam. For example, the signature prawn dish has a liberal amount of basil in it--not necessarily a bad thing just not very Cantonese.


                                    1. re: vincentlo

                                      Wondering if Jade Palace has any Chiu Chow dishes?

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        Definitely not, especially considering Jenny is from Southeast Asia. The only Chiu Chow place in the Bay Area I know of is that restaurant in Milpitas Square (if it still exists). It looks grand but the dishes are really so-so.


                                        1. re: vincentlo

                                          I asked because many of the Chinese from Southeast Asia are of Chiu Chow/Teochew descent and will offer a dish or two. Guess not in this case.

                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                            I'm sure it won't hurt to ask Jenny. It also depends on what the chef can do, assuming it is the same guy from Macau, who has done some great authentic Cantonese (from Canton province) dishes. The worst that can happen is a nay from a custom order/request.

                                            1. re: K K

                                              I've asked, and no Teochew dishes. But I do like Jade Palace quite a bit, more soon.

                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                I posted separately about a disappointing visit where I was served a dish with battered RAW shrimp - apparently just dipped into the oil long enough to crisp the thin coating and turn a millimeter of the shrimp opaque. The onions and peppers were also raw - had not even seen the inside of the wok just had sauce poured over them ;(
                                                When It was mentioned I got a raised eyebrow and sorry without much concern. I don't get why this place is so popular among CH. My visit was on a Sunday afternoon and the place was empty except for a few people. Even if this wasn't the regular chef I have never been served such inappropriately cooked food at a decent place.
                                                The good part was that the shrimp was fresh enough that being raw didn't make it totally inedible.

                                                1. re: estnet

                                                  I wouldn't be happy with that either, and the server should have remedied it for you.

                                                  However, I've had two dinners there and every dish that the owner has recommended has been good. The place has been empty both times. My mother liked it so much, she wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner there until she realized the distance from Salinas was impractical.

                              2. You can try the 750 Pub which is ON campus. Fairly cheap, ok food and you can't really beat the location.

                                Pasta? on University Avenue used to be a popular pick for inexpensive casual-yet-nice dining, but they are raising their prices steadily.

                                If you want some decent, cheap sushi, try Sushi Tomo on University at the corner of Emerson. It'll get the job done.

                                I respectfully disagree with the recommendation of Cafe Borrone -- wildly overpriced.

                                For amazing, plentiful Jamaican fare check out Back-A-Yard on Willow just over 101. Not walkable but it's a whole mess of delicious food for under $10.

                                1. Douce France @ Town and Country!

                                  1. Google tells me that a couple of student faves from yesteryear are still there.
                                    --- Peninsula Creamery in PA (legendary milkshakes)
                                    --- Foster's Freeze in MP (ice cream and decent eats at drive-up cheap prices)

                                    So sorry to hear that Kirk's has descended from its former burger greatness. It used to be the place where a guy would take his date when only the best would do. Hanging around while they were char-broiling your patties to order, listening to the sizzle and sniffing the marvelous browning beefiness, rounded out the complete Kirk's burger experience.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Sharuf

                                      Burgers near campus - I'm looking forward to Jeffrey's on El Camino just before Ravenswood - recently Henry's steakhouse, and a somewhat cursed location.

                                      Anyone know an opening date?

                                      1. re: bbulkow

                                        I called the San Mateo store the other day, assuming that it was the same ownership. They were pretty clueless about the opening date .... something like "maybe August, probably early September". Has anyone been to the San Mateo branch? There have been a couple of mentions on this site, but no substantive reviews that I could find.

                                    2. Homma's brown rice sushi is a hidden but nice find off of California Ave. I forgot the location (it's right next to Ramona's Pizza. I want to say Birch St., but don't know for sure), but it's next to a dry cleaners. Service was slow the last time we went, but good stuff.

                                      1. I like the deli at Oakville Grocer's at the Stanford Shopping Center. Very decent sandwiches and soups and for sure way way better than Max's.

                                        Bistro Maxine on Ramona St near University is very decent for crepes (buckwheat or regular) but it's nowhere near as good as Laurel St Cafe in San Carlos. $6 to $8 ish and includes a salad. They have other things on the menu too.