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Restaurant Review: Clean Eatz

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Clean EatzPhotos by Lauren Sega.
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Just in time for the Holiday Eating Season, Clean Eatz has opened its doors in Graceland Shopping Center. It’s part of a fast-casual chain that is all in on the health food scene. Behind the counter are a small army of healthy-looking, perky dudes with shiny eyes. They are also suspiciously polite and helpful — it must be all the clean living.

Actually, before you get to the order counter, there is a bank of giant freezers right at the entrance. The shelves are fully stocked with frozen foods you can take home and cook at your convenience. During one visit, some customers popped in just to raid that section. In addition to chili and chicken dinners, the freezers also hold some cute-sounding breakfasts (more on that in a minute).

For a more classic restaurant experience, you can order from the menu at the counter and choose from a selection that includes everything from appetizers and wraps, to bowls and smoothies.

The appetizers/snacks are especially ambitious sounding. Nothing could, in fact, be more ambitious than replicating a standard Buffalo Wings snack using cauliflower as a replacement for chicken. The resulting Buffalo Cauliflower ($4.99) does not taste like wings. It tastes like steamed cauliflower with hot sauce. This is not a favorite taste.

But the Nachos ($6.49) can make up for that. They’re built on sweet potato fries, not chips. Well, probably not “fries” either. It’s a good bet that the waffle-cut wedges were baked. Whatever, they’re a good addition for a positively fabulous pulled beef. It’s shredded, beefy, with good texture, and enhanced with excellent levels of brine. It’s finished off with guac, red onions, salsa and bits of green pepper. For a minute, there was an earnest wish for sour cream. But this is probably not the spot for that.

Unexpectedly, the Philly ($7.99) uses the same shredded beef in a flatbread sandwich. Perhaps this subtracts points for authenticity, but it was good in the nachos, and the meat also works nicely folded up with cheese, peppers and onions. The Philly comes with a side, and the vegetable choice turned out to be fresh broccoli, celery and carrots, all of which were knife-fresh (no dry ends).

Bowls are apparently popular, not only at Clean Eatz, but pretty much everywhere. You know the racket, you pick a base (rice, quinoa, sweet potato, cauliflower-rice), protein, toppings, and sauce — it’s a familiar game. A medium bowl ($9.79) built on spinach with chicken, black beans, corn, tomato and a fire-roasted salsa delivers a totally solid Tex-Mex fix. If there were some Doritos to crunch up in there, it’d be about perfect.

Now, about the grab n’ go freezer breakfasts: They’re nicely priced ($5). One option involved egg whites and turkey bacon, but it faded from view in the presence of a sparkling array of French toast options. Packed in black, microwavable containers, the lids are just opaque enough to leave some mystery about the contents. The S’more French Toast is a big square of eggy whole-grain bread, bedecked with graham chips (like Golden Grahams cereal), marshmallows and a chocolate drizzle.

A Strawberry French Toast version is built on the same base, topped with strawberries and more chocolate sauce. The results were quite likable, with no extra syrup needed. The chocolate drizzles tasted suspiciously sugar-free, so the marshmallows on the graham version boosted the much-appreciated sugar power. All in, the offerings seem like a better choice than a doughnut any day.

You can find Clean Eatz at 5063 N. High St.

For more information, visit cleaneatz.com.


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