My New Favorite Lunch Spot…

Sweet Tomatoes!  Cute, right? 😉 I’ve never heard of Sweet Tomatoes until I moved to AZ and started receiving coupons for it in the mail.  ST pretty much came off as a simple soup, salad and bakery. So, at first, I wasn’t driven to go there, like “omg I have to go.” It was mainly a place I was curious about.  Was that really all they had?

I was driving around running errands last week in Tempe and searched my GPS for places to eat near by, and up popped Sweet Tomatoes.  Why not?  Even though all my coupons were at home… (this is my usual relationship with coupons)

The parking lot was PACKED, so I knew it had to be worth the visit.

You walk in, and you can either choose to go containers or a tray and a plate if you choose to eat in. Then, its pretty much cafeteria style.  As you go down the HUGE salad bar leading to the cashier and the dining area, you can create your perfect salad. There are a few pre-mixed salads such as caesar or oriental.  Both are fresh and delicious, like the rest of the items on the salad bar.  You can choose from a variety of greens/lettuces as well as a plethora of toppings ranging from different vegetables to berries, seeds, nuts, croutons, cheeses, pasta, etc.  “Premium toppings”  such as chicken, tofu, craisins, etc are available for an additional $2.95…whether you choose from one of the premium toppings or all, its that price per visit.  I personally don’t think those toppings are worth it when there are so many other options to choose from that are included in the $8.50 lunch price.  (However, if you are a senior, you are only $6.50!)

As you get closer to the cashier, you see other goodies available for purchase such as a baker’s dozen of chocolate chip cookies for only $1.99, bottled drinks, packaged snacks, packaged cookie dough and so on.

The only part that can get frustrating is that even though there are two lines on the sides of the salad bar, I always seem to be stuck behind the people who take forever…they either don’t know what they want, or they want everything. That is my only complaint.

I always get water to drink with my meal, but their bev station boasts all sorts or refreshments and they encourage you to mix and match to create your own beverage blend.  No worries, free refills!

Once you pay, feel free to choose a cozy booth or table.  Either start on your salad or make your way up to the other food bars.  Once you pay, its pretty much all you can eat.  It’s way more than just salads!  There’s three different pastas to choose from, eight homemade soups, baked potatoes and sweet potatoes – and all the fixin’s – focaccia pizzas, breads, muffins, cornbread, brownies, fresh fruit, fruit mousses and of course an ice cream bar.

My usual favs include caesar salad, oriental salad, my own salad with veg and pasta and homemade ranch dressing, baked potato with chilli, the cornbread (with real corn kernals in it), and macaroni and cheese.  I like smaller portions so i can choose greater variety. yummmmo

Not finished with your plate and worried about your table being cleared?  There’s a cute little card on each table.  Leave the side up that says “Be Ripe Back”.   When you are all done and ready yo leave, flip the card to “See you Next Thyme.”  This comes in especially handy for me as I am eating out alone with no one to hold my table.  I love the fact that they have cozy booths for two, or in my case, one.

I don’t like to eat out alone at restaurants other than fast food, because it just seems a little awkward.  However, at Sweet Tomatoes, I feel comfortable when I am alone and can get a really good meal. It’s also an amazing price.  Think about it…most lunches or lunch combos come out to between $7-11, so why not go to a buffet where you can create meals to your specification and get exactly what you want.

Uh oh, I said the dreaded b-word.  Buffet.  Don’t panic…Sweet Tomatoes knows what they are doing.  The hot food is super hot and cold food super cold.  Everything is fresh and even at the pasta and bakery station, you can physically see the cooks preparing the food.  (most is in small batches, so they aren’t just holding lots of food for a periods of time.

Another fun aspect of ST is they mix up the ingredients in the salad bar as well as the soups and pastas to reflect cuisines of different regions, so its never boring.

What keeps me coming back?  Other than knowing where to get a good, even healthful meal, for a reasonable price, each receipt always has a coupon to encourage you to come back.

Check it out!  If you are in AZ, let’s do lunch!  ST is also open for dinner, but it just really hits the spot for lunch 🙂  They’re brinin salad back, yeah!


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