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Review: Mayo Hospital Cafeteria (Phoenix, AZ)

ejs1492 Mar 2, 2010 07:28 AM

The one glaring omission in the mind-numbing debate about healthcare reform is this: hospital cafeterias are the best bargains in town. I learned this lesson recently while visiting a relative during her convalescence at Mayo Hospital, in north Phoenix. But my hospital dining experience stretches far and wide, having had many meals at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Scottsdale Healthcare Shea. Long gone are the days of horrid hospital fare. In fact, hospital cafeterias are serving up respectable food at truly recession-friendly prices.

Consider this: lunch with my father at the Mayo Hospital cafeteria, located just off the main atrium, cost a whopping $9.70 for both of us. That included two large freshly-brewed iced teas, one bowl of tortilla soup, two patty melts and an order of onion rings. I’m not suggesting that anyone raise the prices, but I find it curious that a hospital can bill my insurance company $75 for three Vicodin, yet charge 1970’s prices for the food. And I bet they charge insurance companies a lot more money for the meals served to patients in their rooms, even thought it likely comes from the same kitchen.

All things considered, the food is pretty good. My onion rings may have come frozen from a bag, but they were freshly fried and I gladly waited the three minutes it took for them to be cooked. They arrived hot and crispy, which is more than I can say for some “higher end” establishments.

The patty melt was also a nice surprise. The onions were nicely caramelized and sweet, and the rye bread was nicely toasted to a crisp. I’m sure the cardiology department paid someone for this to be the featured sandwich, because nutritional information is posted for every item and I’m not proud of the fact that I ate a full day’s worth of fat and sodium in one patty melt. Serving food like this must be good for business.

On the other hand, healthier options were available. There was a Seared Salmon with Lemon Caper Sauce and a salad bar that looked very fresh. Other specials during the past month have included Pecan Crusted Trout, Grilled Chinese BBQ Salmon Salad, and Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Grilled Salmon. Not one entrée is more than $5.25. Though I haven’t tried it myself, I am a bit put-off by the name of one special: “Chicken Greek-a-Tikka.” It sounds like a bad mash-up of a gyro and tikka masala, and the results can’t be good.

It is worth noting that the cafeteria system at Mayo Hospital is a model of efficiency. I would venture to say that the cafeteria employees are some of the lowest paid employees (or sub-contractors, whatever the case may be) in the hospital, yet they do their jobs efficiently and with smiles on their faces. It makes me despise – even more – the surly service I sometimes get at expensive restaurants.

If you are in North Phoenix, the Mayo Hospital is conveniently located just of the 101. The food may not be as good La Grande Orange, but parking is plentiful, they don’t care if you take pictures of your food, and there is a refreshing absence of attitude.

I cannot solve our country’s healthcare woes. But if politicians, pundits and lobbyists want an example of what IS working in our healthcare system they could start by looking in their own cafeteria.

Photos can be found at www.ericeatsout.com

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Mayo Hospital Cafeteria
5777 East Mayo Boulevard
Phoenix, AZ 85054
(800) 446-2279

  1. ccl1111 Mar 2, 2010 10:25 AM

    That's funny. I actually worked at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale for Marriott Management Services way, way, way back. While I wasn't involved with the food service, I remember having a meal there my first partial day & thinking the cafeteria was surprisingly decent. That's been eons and I've never been to the hospital itself but you've gotten me interested.

    1. a
      AnonymousWaitress Mar 2, 2010 05:19 PM

      To me Mayo Clinic overall is a model of efficiency(but that's another topic). For about 6 months last year I transported a family member to chemo once a week and never dreaded having to eat in the cafeteria which is shocking. Don't remember exactly what I had over those many visits but echo EJS on the praise.

      1. Jen76 Mar 2, 2010 05:29 PM

        I cannot say the same as you for the food at Banner Baywood's cafeteria. It wasn't as awful as the food I got when I was in the hospital as a kid (processed "cream" of spinach soup...gag), but bleh, it certainly wasn't notable.

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