Most of us put away the deep fryer after the holidays, committing ourselves to healthier eating in the new year. A few of us stuck with it. The rest of us stayed in full winter mode, consuming fats and carbs like we needed to grow more layers to keep warm.
No more! It’s March, doggone it. The seed catalogs have come, the die-hard gardeners are heavy into plotting and planning, and the bounty of Minnesota summer is just around the corner. But why wait? There are so many Rochester-area restaurants that will fill your cravings for a fresh bite. Here are a few of my highlights.
If you want to know where your food is coming from, go no further than Tonic. One of the most dedicated sourcers of local farmers’ produce and meats, Tonic is always fresh and nearly always local, too. Since winning best new restaurant honors in 2015, Tonic hired another chef and expanded its dinner service offerings.
Tonic’s menu changes regularly, but next time, I’m checking if they still have the grass-fed stout braised beef served with potato galette and brown butter haricot verts (fancy green beans). Of course, Tonic smoothies and juices are second-to-none, and I never met a salad there I didn’t like. Trust me, hardly anything on this menu is eat-it-because-it’s-good-for-you. It’s just really good.
This relative newcomer to downtown Rochester has a unique blend of food, but as you can guess by the name, Freshens prides itself on freshly prepared ingredients. In addition to a wide selection of smoothies and salads, Freshens serves some well-reviewed rice bowls, including a Bangkok Thai bowl with peanut sauce, chicken, carrots, broccoli, oranges, peanuts and white rice.
Another unique menu item is Freshens’ selection of sweet or savory crepes. Lunchtime crepes include pesto chicken, Tuscan turkey and Philly cheese, while breakfast options are an egg white Florentine or sausage and egg. Dessert crepes are served every day, including a cheesecake supreme, nutella supreme or PB banana crunch. (Those last items might not be on the “lighter” side, but everything in moderation, yes?) Freshens is located at Kahler Inn & Suites.
News flash: Inta Juice makes more than juice!
Sure, Inta Juice has real fruit smoothies such as Acai Warrior with apple, acai, lime, pineapple, banana and mango. Its fresh squeezed juices are also popular, such as their “Pikes Peak” with orange, banana, apple, strawberry and spinach. And let’s face it: Squeezing or blending actual fruits and vegetables together has to be one of the healthiest ways to drink a meal.
But! Did you know that Inta Juice also makes a variety of sandwiches, paninis and wraps? Try a meat lovers Panini with chicken, bacon, ham, mozzarella and ranch. The buffalo chicken wrap packs a little heat with chicken, cheddar, cheese, lettuce, tomato and topped off with buffalo sauce and ranch.
People’s Food Co-op
This one shouldn’t be a surprise, but it deserves repeating: If you haven’t been through the salad bar or hot bar at PFC, your culinary experience in Rochester isn’t complete. From-scrach muffins, sauces, soups and sandwiches are all reasonably priced and all delicious — then cruise through the aisles for some ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner, too.