Photos and Words by Natalie Goldberg
We’ve all had those days when we get super hungry, but do not feel like spending all afternoon in the bustling dining hall. It’s 12:00pm, your stomach is rumbling, and you check the BU food app and let out a sigh because it looks like you’ll be eating cereal for lunch again… if you can even find a table.
You could do that, or you could enter a spacious, clean dining room with food made right in front of you and no lines. Lucky for you, it is the same price as going to Marciano Commons, Warren, or West, plus a dining point. This dining hall is located on the 3rd floor of the Florence and Chafetz Hillel House, located at 213 Bay State Road.
Though commonly utilized by students on the Kosher Meal Plan, the Hillel dining hall is open to everyone. Trust me, I find myself eating there multiple times a week because of its convenience, efficiency, and calm environment that is perfect for eating and studying. Very few students know about this hidden gem on campus, but the ones who do appreciate it for its home-y setting, friendly and inviting chefs, and arguably some of the best food on campus made-to-order. When asked to give an idea of this dining hall, Chef Francis, the always-smiling face of Hillel Dining, simply explained, “I take care of the needs of my students.” The personalized atmosphere and community feel definitely serves as a fresh change from the other dining options on campus.
Besides the comfort of a calmer dining hall, Hillel does have different policies that may seem intimidating on your first time going there, but they are very easy to get used to and are totally worth it. It is a 100% kosher dining hall, which means no pork, no mixing milk and meat, and no outside food can be brought in. Aside from a fresh salad bar with items unique to Hillel dining, such as hummus, cauliflower, and other items that are rotated in and out, there is always freshly made soup. On dairy days, some of the menu items can include baked Pollack or salmon, baked macaroni and cheese or ziti, lasagna, various types of pizza, and more. Meat days typically include some type of slow-cooked brisket and chicken, in sauces like barbeque, teriyaki, savory mushroom, and flavorful spices like yellow curry, rosemary and thyme, and more. They also offer grilled hamburgers and hotdogs.
My personal favorite is the stir-fry station, which features a variety of vegetables, pasta, or tofu with a selection of sauces that are sautéed to perfection, made-to-order right in front of you. Meals like this remind me of home and allow me to avoid some of the sickly sweet or super salty sauces that I commonly find in the regular dining hall.
If this is not convincing enough, Hillel offers weekly FREE Friday night Shabbat dinners. Yes, absolutely free whether you are a student or not, on a meal plan or not, and Jewish or not. A variety of delicious brisket, chicken, vegetables, rice, potato or noodle kugel, and even the occasional mushroom ravioli are brought to the table and served family-style. This is all paired with Matzah Ball soup, Challah, and an array of desserts later on. Friday night Shabbat dinners provide a strong sense of community. The food itself is not only free, but is delicious and has a homemade feel. The meal serves as the center of a night combined with fun themes including Harry Potter, the Environment, Gala Shabbat featuring comedy and acapella groups, and meaningful religious scholars. Shabbat dinner brings a room of 50 to 200 people together to share a meal together that represents the start of a weekend of relaxation and community.
Hillel dining is more than just a casual place to grab a meal. This dining hall has its own sense of purpose for the multitude of people who stop by, from those who just want a quiet place to eat and study, to those who are looking to find a community at BU, or even people, like us, who just want to find a decent, home-cooked meal that won’t break the bank.
213 Bay State Road
*Friday night dinner: 7:30pm
(changes to 6:30pm during the winter)
Rhetty-to-go meals are available
Menus are posted daily on the first floor of the Hillel House or can be found by calling (617) 353 7200
All weekday meals are walk-in and cost one meal plus a dining point.
All FREE Friday night Shabbat dinners can be registered for online at bu.edu/hillel/dining
Walk-ins are also accepted, but registration ensures a spot.