There are so many restaurants in the world. Deciding what to eat, like so many other things these days, can be an overwhelming choice to make – especially for mothers or other caretakers like me who are always on the hunt for something easy – and healthy – on the go. Let me clarify- something that doesn’t read Easy = Chicken Nuggets.
In the few weeks since Sweetgreen opened its newest location in the 5 Points Plaza, I am already a fan. The company has 224 stores nationwide, but Huntington Beach is only the second to boast the fast-casual chain’s “Infinite Kitchen” automated technology which assembles salads and bowls that are then finished by hand at the counter.
Human employees prepare the food, marinate the meats, chop the veggies, make the dressings and put on the finishing touches. A machine dubbed the “infinite kitchen” takes on the back-of-the-house duties and does the rest (the bulk of the salad and bowl preparation). This translates to a seamless experience from placing your order on one of six tablets stationed in the middle of the store (or via the app) to order pickup (typically less than five minutes).
Sweetgreen’s mission revolves around real food – sourced locally (and seasonally!) through a transparent supply chain, and cooked from scratch. The founders – three college friends – saw the same choice for themselves through their schooling years. “You could get food that was slow, expensive, and fresh – or fast, cheap, and unhealthy.”
The salads, warm bowls and protein plates here are delicious, nutritious and with so many customizable options, there’s literally something to please every palate. Sidle up to a tablet to pick your base (greens and/or grains), select your protein (miso glazed salmon, herb roasted chicken, etc.), dressings and other assorted toppings to suit your tastes on a particular day or order a protein plate straight off the menu, such as the BBQ salmon, hot honey chicken or southwest chicken fajita. My new fave? The Chicken Pesto Parm which arrives as a generous plate of baby spinach, herbed quinoa, spicy broccoli, tomatoes, roast chicken, shaved parmesan, pesto vinaigrette and sweetgreen’s signature hot sauce.
This is the perfect place for me to meet a mom friend who is about to have her second child. Throughout both her pregnancies, she’s experienced dietary intolerances, first dairy and soy, then gluten. Because dishes here can be customized to suit your individual needs and culinary cravings, she is able to create a different inspired dish each visit.
Since opening their first location in Washington DC, the company has expanded out to the opposite coast and are opening locations all over Southern California. Lucky me. One less decision to make throughout the day.