I think I’m going to be fixating on food for a while, at least until I get used to this “eating healthy food” BS. So I’m going to write about dining at the Institvte. (I’ll admit that I’m also writing this because I was in lab until 7 tonight — yes, on a Friday night — and that nice wrinkly organ that sits between my ears is not working so well, so I think I’ll let my stomach take over.)
First, TechCash. We don’t have generic meal plans like most other schools do, but instead have a sort of debit card associated with our student ID. You (or your parents, more commonly) are free to put as much or as little money as desired on the card. This is pretty different from some other places, where students are required to buy x meals per week at the school dining halls. One of my friends at state school succintly describes her school’s dining hall food as “slop.” Mmm.
As far as residential dining halls go, there are four: McCormick, Baker, Next, and Simmons, all of which are open Sunday through Thursday for dinner; Pritchett Dining is open for dinner on east campus. I’ve only ever been to Next and Simmons, and they’re okay. I mean, there’s a pretty wide variety of food offered on any given day, so if you don’t like something that’s being served, you can eat something else. Both Next and Simmons offer made-to-order stirfry, so you can “have it your way” without even going to a fast food restaurant. The food in the residential halls isn’t cheap, but neither is any kind of food in Boston (the price of food, of course, being one of the hardest things for this transplanted Midwesterner to become accustomed to).
Lunch dining halls on campus include Lobdell food court (including a Burger King! Oops, I’m on a diet. Including a salad bar!), Stata Dining (eclectic and expensive, but good), and Sub Connection (aka the Biology Building cafe. Because it’s in the bio building, I eat here more often than I’d like to admit. The guy who works there doesn’t even ask what I want anymore, he just starts making it when he sees me walk in).
For noshing, several cafes take TechCash — there’s a Starbucks in the Stata Center, and two cafes on the Infinite Corridor, one in lobby 7 and one in building 4. We MIT kids lurve our coffee.
A handful of actual restaurants (ie, not run by campus dining) also accept TechCash. Domino’s Pizza accepts the card, delivers, and is pizza. (What more do college students want?) I’m a big fan of Alpine Bagel in the Student Center — they have breakfast food, bagel sandwiches, smoothies, hamburgers, and brick-oven pizza. Anna’s Taqueria is also in the student center, for those who like la comida mexicana.
Let’s not forget the humble food trucks. There are nine (?) on and around campus every day, bringing cheap and delicious food in an ice-cream-truck-like vehicle. Types of food offered include Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and pizza(ian). The food trucks aren’t on the card, but they should be. I treat myself to the Asian food truck near the bio building every Tuesday because their curry chicken makes me happy. Further on the topic of “good food not paid for by TechCash”, Campusfood.com allows us to order food online and (in many cases) have it delivered to our doors.
One can also buy groceries on TechCash at LaVerde’s grocery store in the student center (which also sells sandwiches and such from their deli), and at Campus Convenience, the store on the first floor of Macgregor.
Many of the dorms, including Macgregor, Random, Bexley, Burton-Conner, EC, Senior House, and Simmons, have kitchens for resident use. Personally, I cook for myself more often than not, because it’s cheaper and healthier… also, I live in a dorm with no dining hall, and when the wind is whipping down dorm row in the winter, the last thing I want to do is leave to go to a dining hall.
Hooray for food!