Stanford University, Menlo College

From Jessica G., Stanford, Class of 2005 (aka The Sodium Girl, check out her blog):

The Peninsula Creamery
900 High Street
Palo Alto, CA

The classic stop: family owned and operated since 1923, this is a Stanford University staple. Shake away any college visit nerves with a frothy malt and definitely go big with one of their burgers. It’s fresh, fast, and family-friendly comfort food.

482 University Avenue
Palo Alto, CA

Get a taste of California’s market fresh cuisine and build your own salad (or sandwich) at this out-of-the-world lunch spot. And make sure to splurge on a side of Solar Sweet Potato Fries and Orbital Onion Rings to balance out all those leafy greens.

1700 Embarcadero Road
Palo Alto, CA

For an introduction to the Bay area’s famous dim sum culture, grab a seat in front a Lazy Susan at Ming’s. With over 200 dishes, the menu caters to any eater. But definitely order Lychee Sweet and Sour Pork; Spicy Black Bean Dungeness Crab; one of their original recipes (like Ming’s Beef or the Chinese Chicken Salad); the Rice Noodle Rolls (stuffed with Pork, Prawns, or Veggies); and the Deep Fried Chicken and Chive Dumplings.

Coupa Café
538 Ramona Street
Palo Alto, CA
(There’s also a location on the Stanford Campus.)

Another family-owned gem, this coffee shop serves up killer Venezuelan cuisine. They are most famous for the Arabica coffee, Spicy Maya Hot Chocolate, and white cornmeal arepas. But the hand painted walls (sponged by the owners’ sons and daughters) and Silicon Valley people-watching are top-notch too.

644 Emerson
Palo Alto, CA
(There’s a location on the Stanford Campus as well.)

This is some perky frozen yogurt. Made in-house, the organic tang of this treat can’t be beat. They offer fat-free, soy, and lactose-free options. And you can top your sweet swirl with fresh fruit, steel cut oatmeal, or hand baked goods.

Fuki Sushi
4119 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA

In this state, a California roll can mean two things: 1) a slow glide through a stop sign or 2) a delicious bite of crab wrapped in rice and seaweed. Treat yourself to the second of these Golden State namesakes and bite into Fuki Sushi’s numerous sushi, sashimi, and Japanese small plates that make this restaurant a favorite of locals and transplants alike.

Hobee’s Restaurant
67 Town & Country Village
Palo Alto, CA

Great brunch menu and blueberry coffee cake. Enough said.

Mayfield Bakery and Café
855 El Camino Real (Town & Country Village)
Palo Alto, CA

Although the new kid on the block and a bit pricier than the other options here, this beautiful and rustic eatery is quickly becoming a dining must. The lines can get long on the weekend, but use those extra minutes to grab a coffee at Peet’s across the street or some stationery at the Paper Source (perfect for writing home to Mom and Pop). Fresh from the oven pastries, slow braised pork, and anything from the wood fire oven is worth the wait.