Hospital cafes

Movable Feast

It’s no secret that food for hospital patients leaves a lot to be desired. But, what’s the food like for those who visit and staff Penn’s hospitals?

As it turns out, it’s pretty much what you’d expect—neither cause for celebration nor universally awful. We were, however, pleasantly surprised by the array of options available to those who work and visit HUP, Pennsylvania Hospital and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. We also like that the health-conscious and vegetarians have plenty of choices—as do those who need a little grease to get through the day. Prices are very reasonable at all three cafes.

Here are our impressions:

Founders Cafeteria, HUP: Situated on the second floor of the Founders building, the cafeteria teems with people snagging a ready-made sandwich for a quick bite or braving the considerable lines at one of the hot food stations. Options include pizza and burgers, ham and cheese strombolis and ready-made sushi. There’s a fresh salad bar and an array of soups, including vegetarian chili, Mulligatawny and corn chowder.
We appreciated nutrition information on some of the signs and several hearty options for hungry vegetarians (from veggie burgers to chili). Also, there was plenty of seating to be had, though the cafeteria space was poorly lit and, well, very much a cafeteria

Cafeteria, Pennsylvania Hospital: Sunlight finds its way into Pennsylvania hospital’s first floor cafeteria through glass doors leading out to a pleasant courtyard. You’ll find standard fare here, from heart taxing cheesesteaks and fried chicken (in a hospital?) to pot roast and mac and cheese. A large selection of prepared sandwiches complete with nutrition information (590 calories for a tuna salad sandwich) offers plenty of choice, along with pre-packaged salads and a salad bar. You’ll find sushi here, too, and if being in a hospital environment is getting you down, why not chow down on a big, comforting bowl of cereal or an ice cream sandwich.

Atwood Cafe, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center: Penn Presbyterian’s Atwood Cafe, located in the near of the Wright-Saunders Building, was a welcome surprise. The U-shaped service counter offered several different food stations with fare ranging from grilled food (the hamburgers, we must say, looked great) to soups and salads to more adventurous entrees such as salmon cakes and sushi. All of the options looked good, though we took the healthy route and hit the salad bar. It was a good choice: Not only were we impressed by the wide selection of toppings, we also found all of the veggies to be crisp and fresh. We enjoyed our salad in the quiet, comfortable dining room, which even nearly full was neither messy nor overly loud—good for the hospital crowd.

Originally published October 5, 2006.

Originally published on October 5, 2006