I’ve always been a sucker for old-school diners, from high-class venues like the Creamery to greasy spoon joints on random street corners, which is why it’s incredible that in nearly three years at Stanford, this was the first time that I made it to either of the Creamery restaurants in Palo Alto. On a surprisingly warm March evening at the end of last quarter, I grabbed a few equally exhausted, relieved, and stress-hungry friends from across campus for an end-of-finals celebration, and we drove down to the Shopping Center for good ol’ burgers and milkshakes. With their shiny linoleum floors, chrome counters, and jukeboxes, going to the Creamery is like traveling straight back to the 1950s, though in the spirit of full disclosure, I wasn’t actually alive in the 50s, so that statement involves considerable speculation.
Food – 5/5
It pleases me immensely to tell you that this place lived up to the hype! “Simple food, done well,” claims the Creamery’s retro-style website, and it’s true. I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of fresh, crispy, hand-cut fries, plus one of their rightfully famous milkshakes (with peanut butter cups, only the best candy of all time). My friend made the wise and experienced decision to order hers with bananas and peanut butter, which is definitely on my list to try next time. Our table had heaps of praise for our sandwiches (one turkey club and one classic burger), a bonafide milkshake addiction and vague appreciation for a key lime pie that was a little too green to be authentic. Overall, a delicious meal that I will surely repeat.
Service – 4/5
Even though we went during prime dinner hours on a Thursday evening, the hostess had no problem finding us a booth for four, and our waiter did an excellent job keeping our large orders straight. Unfortunately, it took a very long time (about 30 minutes) for our food to arrive, but on the plus side, the wait made it taste even better. (Love me some silver lining…)
Price – 3/5
Sandwiches and burgers run from $8-11, though they generally come with a side and are large enough to save half for later (which I did, since I still had two thesis chapters to write and anticipated needed a midnight dinner/super-early breakfast). The milkshakes, while delicious, are pretty extortionate at $5.95 without any add-ons, each of which costs an additional 70 cents. The meal was well worth the price, but it’s more of a splurge than a staple.
Location and Setting – 5/5
I have yet to visit their location on Emerson Street, but the Creamery at the Stanford Shopping Center is a fun, clean, pleasant restaurant with ample indoor and outdoor seating, infectiously nostalgic ambiance, and plenty of parking! That’s definitely an advantage of the Shopping Center, since downtown is such a parking mess on most evenings.
Good for... celebrations of any kind (from birthdays to surviving finals), first or second dates, and comfort food after a full day of dress shopping for formal with your girls.
Photo courtesy of Palo Alto Creamery.