Hailing from humble beginnings in a renovated Mississippian gas station, McAlister's Deli has revolutionized the concept of fast food with healthy fare recognized by Parents in 2009. Premium ingredients, such as Black Angus roast beef and black forest ham, pile upon stuffed potatoes or artisan bread, sating hungers and silencing stomachs before they recite bank-account numbers. As patrons wait for servers to deliver meals, they sip signature sweet tea, swirled together onsite daily from pure cane sugar and a rainforest-certified black-tea blend as dictated by a closely guarded recipe.
Comfort food doesn't have a reputation for being healthy, but the cooks at Fresh Market Cafe strive to change that by putting a nutritious twist on southern favorites. The kitchen staffers prepare their vegetables in chicken stock or a ham base, eschewing grease, oil, or butter for healthier alternatives. Baked fresh every morning, their pies, skillet cornbread, and entrees contain no MSG or artificial flavors, instead relying on fresh and natural ingredients. Customers pressed for time can take advantage of the carry-out and drive-thru options, or they can enjoy a leisurely meal in the restaurant.
At each Berry Berry Good Frozen Yogurt location, patrons stroll amid a colorful, modern-style décor as they ponder a rotating selection of 12 frozen yogurts. Fat-free, kosher, no-sugar-added, and low-sugar options come in traditional flavors such as Tahitian vanilla, peanut butter, and caramel as well as unconventional twists including mango cheesecake. At the toppings bar, they load up their yogurt bases with candies, sauces, and nuts before paying for each order by weight ($0.49/ounce).
The sounds of metal against metal reverberate through the interior of Hokkaido Hibachi Grill & Sushi Bar, as showy hibachi chefs delight their audiences with knives, spatulas, and safely airborne morsels of food. The chef stands in the center of an audience and orchestrates a fiery feast upon the hibachi grill. Steak, salmon, and scallops all transform under the chefs’ flashy techniques; each has a different repertoire of tricks, but they almost always perform the “volcano” maneuver that displays controlled spouts of flame. The atmosphere is a bit quieter behind the sushi bar, as a chef with 18 years of experience carefully rolls and slices fish that’s brought in daily and shushes anyone with enough gall to cut their food with a jackhammer. Earth-toned stone walls surround Hokkaido’s interior, which generates an upscale vibe with sleek dark chairs and booths. Large front windows admit streams of sunlight during the day, and hanging lamps exude a golden light over booths at night. To accompany flame-kissed or rice-wrapped food, bartenders pour specialty drinks at the bar, such as the Funky Monkey with banana liquor and piña colada mix, or teetotal with bubbly Japanese Sprite.
After eating sushi on their first date, one young couple realized that their town lacked a postdinner hangout spot for all crowds. Though the couple didn’t let this spoil their evening—they married later that year—it did instill them with the entrepreneurial spirit, leading them to found Sweet Tree Yogurt. The family-friendly eatery fans the flames of dessert cravings with more than 30 self-serve yogurt flavors packed with live and active probiotics and more than 50 candy and fruit toppings. Customers fill cups or upside-down witch hats with the yogurt of their choice, from low-fat varieties such as vanilla and cookies 'n' cream to sugar-free or fat-free treats including chocolate and cheesecake. They next crown their cups at the expansive toppings bar, which teems with almonds, candy bars, fresh fruit, and syrups. Finally, completed desserts rest on a scale at the weigh station to determine the amount of moola due and whether each cup will fight in the welterweight or featherweight division.