You can tell that Sweet Tomatoes is different to practically any other restaurant as soon as you walk through the door, for instead of finding somewhere to sit, you are at the start of what must be one of the largest salad bars in the world.
Sweet Tomatoes prides itself on serving fresh healthy food, and it certainly does that, as you can see from the range of salad ingredients that are available to the diner.
The Sweet Tomatoes Salad Bar
Lining up on both sides of the giant salad bar, customers are able to choose from three or four types of main salad, which usually include Caesar Salad, Won Ton Chicken Happiness, and then something seasonal that changes from week to week, for example Mandarin Spinach with Caramelized Walnuts.
Beyond the prepared salads, which are by the way made in front of you, all with fresh ingredients, there are choices of lettuce and spinach, then the usual carrot, celery, radishes, beets and peppers, plus some more unusual vegetables such as sliced squash.
Then there is always a choice of Sweet Corn, Green Peas, Hard Boiled Egg, Cheese, Olives, and a selection of prepared dishes such as Southern Dill Potato Salad, Broccoli Madness or Mandarin Noodles with Broccoli.
There is a good choice of home made dressings, and I personally recommend the Balsamic Dressing, as well as the Honey Mustard.
Having reached the end of the salad bar at Sweet Tomatoes, you then choose your drinks (which cost extra but are refillable), and head off to find a table. Staff are available to help you carry your trays, which is especially useful for the elderly, or if there are children in the party who need to be held or carried.
The Sweet Tomatoes Soup Bar
As well as the giant salad bar, Sweet Tomatoes has a wide range of freshly prepared soups to offer their customers, and these soups are GOOD and wholesome too.
As an example, these are the soups that are on offer at the time of writing at the Sweet Tomatoes restaurant in Boca Raton in Florida:
Big Chunk Chicken Noodle (Low Fat)
Cream of Chicken
Asian Ginger Broth (Low Fat, Vegetarian)
Indian Lentil (Low Fat, Vegan)
Smoky Pinto & Brown Rice (Low Fat, Vegetarian)
Canadian Cheese with Smoked Ham
Buffalo Chicken Soup
As you can see these soups are far from ordinary, and they are very tasty and filling. A personal favorite of mine is listed here, the Indian Lentil, which is thick, full of lentils, and has a wonderful curry taste.
Alongside the soup bar is a selection of toppings (or if you want “bottomings”). These include Baked Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Rice, and also grated Cheese, Regular and Green Onions, Bacon Bits and Crackers. So whether you like a Baked Potato with Chili over the top, or a base of Rice in your bowl and then some soup, you will have plenty of choice.
The Sweet Tomatoes Bakery
If you love Fresh Baked Breads or Foccacia, then you will love the bakery section at Sweet Tomatoes.
The bread, both white and whole grain is baked fresh, and there is usually Foccacia with several toppings to choose from as well.
As well as the different breads, the Bakery always has fresh bakes Brownies and several types of Muffins as well. In the evenings, the Bakery also serves a special dessert, for example Chocolate Lava Cake or Lemon Cake. I highly recommend the Chocolate Lava Cake, and also their Blueberry Muffins, which are to die for. Both are really good topped with soft serve ice cream.
The Sweet Tomatoes Pasta Bar
As if you haven’t had enough to fill you up already, there is the Sweet Tomatoes pasta bar, and this usually has three or four items to choose from.
This week for example at the Boca Raton location you can find:
Oriental Noodle and Green Bean (Low Fat, Vegetarian)
4 Cheese Alfredo (Vegetarian)
Macaroni and Cheese (Vegetarian)
They will also cook plain pasta with butter if you wish.
As if you weren’t full to the brim already, you can’t leave Sweet Tomatoes without having a dessert.
Most of the dessert items can be found at the Bakery, but they also have available selections of Fresh Fruit, Sugar Free Gelatin, and either Chocolate or Vanilla Pudding.
Of course you are likely to also want to top your dessert off with some soft serve ice cream, which usually offers two flavors, plus a swirl blend of both.
The Sweet Tomatoes Web Site
The menu selections vary weekly, and the Sweet Tomatoes web site allows you to see at each location what the current and future menus have to offer.
It’s an excellent web site, both from the layout point of view, as well as from the level of detail that it shows and the ease of navigation.
As well as showing you the menu of special items by location, by clicking on each item, you can see the Nutrition Guide. Now how cool is that!
If you are a regular diner with Sweet Tomatoes, you will want to register for coupons, that give special offers such as discounted prices on lunches, or “two for one” meals in the evening.
A Brief History Of Sweet Tomatoes
No in depth review such as this would be complete without some history on the restaurant, and although this would usually come at the beginning of the review, I think you will agree that when thinking about Sweet Tomatoes, you just want to head straight for the Salad Bar.
The first Souplantation restaurant (parent company name) opened in San Diego, California in 1978, and it’s credited by experts in the food industry as being the first every casual eatery to sever fresh and wholesome menu options.
As the brand grew in the 1980’s, the restaurants outside of California were named Sweet Tomatoes, and there are now 112 restaurants in the chain in 15states.
You can read the full history of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes HERE.
In summary, I think you will see that Sweet Tomatoes is a good healthy and fun place to eat, but beware if you are a meat-eater, as aside from a small portion of cooked chicken, for which you pay extra, the only meat that you will usually find is in the soups.
However, if you enjoy the combination of Salad, Soup and Fresh Breads, a meal at Sweet Tomatoes is a wonderful healthy departure from the usual buffet style restaurant.
It is of course only as healthy as the menu items that you decide to eat, and the portion sizes that you allot yourself.
Personal experience and opinions.
About The Author:
Tony Payne is a self confessed foodaholic, and returned to his native England in the summer of 2009, having spent the previous 15 years living in the USA. He considers himself well qualified to write about many of the cultural differences that exist between the UK and the USA, particularly in the area of food and dining out.