Mountain View, CA
Fast food that doesn't make me feel guilty or greasy. A salad-bar restaurant where my children want to eat. Pretty amazing, don't you think?
This chain of restaurants, located throughout California (with a few in Texas and Washington), offers a lot of choices for a reasonable price.
Walk in the door, grab a tray, and the first station on the line is the salad bar. I tried two prepared salads -- Chinese Chicken and Strawberry Fields Spinach -- and liked them both. There's also some heartier salads, like tuna tarragon and cavatappi (pasta) pesto, followed by a make-your-own salad bar, with a full compliment of veggies, crunchy toppings, and dressings.
Next comes the cash register, where drinks are offered. Several more food stations follow. There are two or three soups, macaroni and cheese, pasta with tomato sauce, pizza, and baked potatoes with toppings. I had a lentil-vegetable soup that was quite good.
Dessert options when we visited included brownies, muffins, soft-serve ice cream, fresh fruit, and pudding. Sweets are probably the weakest part of the menu; the kids enjoyed making their own ice-cream treats, but I've had better brownies from a boxed mix.
Buffets typically offer variety and convenience -- your food is immediately ready -- but quality may suffer when the food sits too long. This has not been a problem at Fresh Choice. The prepared salads and hot foods have been tasty and fresh, and the raw salad ingredients are appealing.