Hospital food on Martha’s Vineyard is a delicious surprise

Chicken Quesadilla served with turmeric rice, black beans, guacamole and sour cream. —Marnely Murray

When you think of hospital food, what comes to mind? Normally, it’s insipid, flavorless, bland meals made somewhere far away and reheated at their convenience, served up with little to no finesse. Thankfully, the LEED-certified Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is quite the opposite. Sometimes the most unusual places turn out to be the biggest rewards, and that’s just what happened when I walked in to have lunch at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Cafe. Granted, it’s a spot that over a dozen Islanders have recommended I write about. “You have to grab lunch at the hospital — it’s great and oh so affordable!” everyone told me, so naturally I was curious. On a sunny weekday, I grabbed two friends and headed to dine at the M.V. Hospital Cafe.

Incredibly enough, it’s not much of a secret anymore, since we walked into a line of customers hungry for a delicious meal. You stand in a line, which goes by quite quickly, and order either from the à la carte menu or one of the daily specials. They’re also serving up fresh-made pizzas, burgers, desserts, and a full salad bar, but that day’s specials included a Chicken Quesadilla ($4.40) served with turmeric rice, black beans, and endless guacamole and sour cream, which was obviously my choice. The quesadilla was large, with flavorful chicken and cheese, pressed to melted perfection. On the side was bright, colorful, and antioxidant-packed turmeric rice, along with creamy black beans. After I paid for my meal (and debated getting a slice of the many desserts offered), I was entitled to sour cream and guacamole — as much as my heart desired!

“We always try to have beef, chicken, and seafood or vegetarian options as our daily specials, to make sure everyone has something they can order,” Chris Porterfield, director of food and nutrition at the M.V. Hospital Cafe, said. Mr. Porterfield, who has been with the hospital for 15 years, has his hands in almost every part of the cafe’s day-to-day production: creating weekly menus with daily specials, sourcing the best products, and offering flexibility while maintaining affordability.

Mr. Porterfield and his team definitely hit all of those goals — a community

focus just makes it that much better. The options are made fresh daily, with nutrition and health always in mind. The salad bar is also a great attraction, as you can compose any type of fresh, crisp, and delicious salad.

If you’re looking for an affordable meal (sometimes as low as under $5) that is quick and healthy, make sure to stop by the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Cafe. It’s not the usual lunch spot, but it hits the spot!

The Hospital Café is located at the Windemere entrance (off the connecting corridor between the Physician Office Building and the hospital). Patients and visitors welcome. Hot meals are served for breakfast and lunch. Prepared sandwiches, salads, coffee, soda, juice, yogurt, fresh fruit, and snacks are also offered. Open weekdays only, closed between breakfast and lunch. Breakfast 6:45 am to 10:30 am, lunch 11 am to 2 pm, and snacks from 2 to 3.