Life has changed for this food writer. As a brand-new mom, poppin’ bottles has taken on a slightly different meaning. But while I find myself seeking out diaper changing tables for the first time ever, I’m still on the hunt for all the awesome happy hours, exciting menus and new or old school H-town icons. Only now, I’m bringing my baby, Quinn, along with me. This “Whining and Dining” series looks at dining out with a baby in the city (more specifically, In the Loop, because Quinn doesn’t like to travel too far from home just yet).
I had Sweetgreen for the first time in Boston last summer, and have been thinking about it ever since. So when the buzzed about salad chain, a DC import, announced it was coming to Houston, I was all over the opening (note: its Rice Village location opened at the end of July, and a second outpost is opening in the old Doc’s space on Westheimer soon).
I figured there’d be a crowd during opening weekend, but Quinn, Dave and I decided to brave it anyway.
We showed up a little after 1 p.m., and there it was. The expected line out the door. That’s okay, I needed time to look over the menu anyway, and by the time I snaked and swiveled my way to the front, I had my eye on the seasonal Summer BBQ bowl.
Sweetgreen works Subway-style, with build-your-own salad and grain bowl options and a number of presets you can customize as desired. But unlike Subway (sorry, no shade), the goods here are legit fresh. That’s because the farm-to-counter spot’s mission is to bring real food to everyone – “real” meaning locally sourced, sustainable, and good-for-you food.
And it delivers. The back wall behind the counter puts its fresh produce on display, and a chalkboard sign on the side wall lists every single trusted farm and purveyor it sources its fruit, vegetables, proteins, and extras from. There’s fresh watermelon from Double H, mushrooms from Kitchen Pride, feta cheese from Mozzarella Co., and honey from Bee 2 Bee, all here in Texas.
My summer salad rocked that watermelon, plus shreds of organic carrot, fresh cilantro, raw corn, crunchy red cabbage and oh-so tender blackened chicken thighs, all over a bed of paper-thin shredded kale and chopped Romaine. I added parmesan crisps (a good move) before they tossed the entire thing in green goddess ranch dressing (you can choose between a light, medium, and heavy pour, or opt for dressing on the side). It was a beautiful mess, but I wish I had snapped a picture for y’all before it was mixed. Next time.
My husband paid at the counter as I managed to snag one of the few, coveted indoor tables (mainly because people like Quinn), but there is outdoor seating that would be perfectly suited for nicer days.
We dug in while Quinn napped next to the still growing line. Finished with a side of artisan bread from local bakery Bread Man Baking Co., the salad was seriously fresh tasting, and totally craveable. It’s is one I’ll be going back for before summer’s end, if anything to help teach Quinn the ethos of eating good, “real” food.
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Though I also want to try the Shroomami bowl. And the Garlic Shrimp. And the Kale Caesar. Now for that Montrose opening…
TL;DR: This fast-casual chain is the real deal when it comes to “real” food, offering thoughtfully-sourced (locally, when possible), sustainable, and super fresh ingredients for you to build your own salad and grain bowls; it’s a choice way to teach your kid about eating good, nourishing food.
Kid-Friendly Dining Essentials
Parking: Free two-hour lot, paid parking
Seating: High chairs available
Bathrooms: Changing stations available in both restrooms
Kids menu: No, but plenty of tasty options for grains, veggies, and proteins
Extras: Skip the line and pre-order your salad on the App; it’ll be waiting for you on the side and you can still eat inside or at one of the outdoor tables
Sweetgreen, 2551 Amherst, 832-720-7500