The last thing I expected was to spend much of my December trekking back and forth to Carolinas Medical Center, but when my daughter landed in the NICU, that’s exactly where I found myself.
When you’re spending so much time at the hospital, it’s inconvenient to go off campus for meals. Plus, there are only so many overpriced Panera soups and salads and Chick-fil-A sandwiches you can take.
That’s where Carolinas Medical Center’s third-floor cafeteria (The Market) comes in, serving hospital staff, doctors and visitors alike. Check it out whether you’re stopping by for a quick visit to oggle a friend’s baby or you end up camping out for a few weeks like me.
Here are some tips to make your visit go smoothly:
Ask about vouchers. The NICU, part of Levine Children’s Hospital, provides families one $5 voucher each day. That goes surprisingly far, so ask the department you’re visiting if they have any similar policies.
Pick healthy options — or splurge. Luckily, Carolinas Medical Center will help you stay on track with your diet by posting calories on its menu. (Within reason since they can’t know exactly what ingredients you’re packing on your salad.)
Check out rotating items. There are staples you’ll find every day, like chicken fingers and burgers, but there are a couple of stations that rotate food options. I could tell wing day was particularly popular. I’m a creature of habit, but if any of these are can’t-miss options, let us know.
Grab and go if you’re in a hurry. Pick up a premade sandwich, snacks, drinks or chicken tenders if you want to avoid the longest lines during peak lunch hour.
Customize your food options. If you have more time, custom order from the grill (the burgers are juicier than the ones sitting out) or deli. I thought most of the food was pretty good — definitely worth the price and worth avoiding navigating the visitor’s parking deck for a second time during the day.
Got any other tips or favorite menu items? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.