By Clifton Tolboe
2.5 Stars out of 4
Here at ThoughtLab most of our dedicated design, development and management team have a food-time consortium problem. Where do we head out to when eating alone? What generally happens is unhealthy at best and disability causing at worst. Now for myself this is somewhat less of an issue given my pre-disposed nature of needing to move around quickly—a lot. Actually, scratch that, I will use all the help I can get, even with the constant movement from one coast to another. Luckily, at least from the Salt Lake City, Utah perspective there are some new establishments that can fill not only our incessant cravings, but do so healthily. One such new institution not only feels our bottomless bellies with delicious offerings, it does so with a keen eye toward what we should actually be stuffing down our respective gullets from not only a health prospective but also an environmental one. Grilla Bites is a new restaurant chain with just 3 locations nationwide (the others are in California and Washington) the third of which is located across the street from ThoughtLab.
Grilla Bites is a restaurant focused on natural and sustainable food preparation. It is also a pretty damn delicious restaurant. In my own humble experience you will not find that those two sentences follow each other regularly. The restaurant is clean, inviting, and for the most part friendly. What really is most surprising about Grilla is that they do all of this in a fast-fresh type of dining experience. Those of you Utah clones that have been to Café Rio, for instance, will recognize the general idea behind this type of fast-fresh restaurant service experience (which for the most part was pioneered by the massive Chipotle chain). The food is ordered via counter, where you pay, receive a number and find a spot in the dining area; or simply pay and visit the awesome, albeit expensive, salad bar (more on that later). What’s most important about the restaurant, at least to me, is the taste—and the taste is nutritional and delectable. Adjectives in fine company I might say.
My largest overall complaint with Grilla is with the menu itself. The menu seems to have a bit of a bi-polar complex with its lack of cohesiveness. Items appearing on the menu next to each other such as an the Zen rice bowl (Broccoli, carrots, edamame, snow peas, sugar snap peas, and fresh bean sprouts served over your choice of brown rice or soba noodles with either coconut curry or peanut sauce; you can add your choice of grilled chicken or tofu) and the vegetarian meatloaf (vegan meatloaf, served with steamed vegetables and vegan mushroom gravy accompanied with your choice of organic brown rice or vegan mashed potatoes) seem incongruous to say the least. A Mexican section also gave me pause and left me puzzled. In general however, the food is prepared with care and tastes pretty damn good; knowing that the ingredients are organically grown and locally sourced where possible never hurts.
If you have not been I recommend that you check Grilla Bites out—especially if you have a predisposition that leans toward healthy eating, vegetarian, or local food. The restaurant is located 49 East Gallivan Avenue (directly south of the ice skating rink at Gallivan Plaza just down the stairs) and is open 10am-8pm Monday through Saturday. Now you can go get good, local, health food without sacrificing good taste. Go and get your grill(a) on.