Freshii, a fast casual restaurant opened on the Hill last August. It offers a diverse menu of soups, salads, wraps, bowls and sandwiches along with a wide array of fresh pressed juices. The happy news is that Freshii manages to live up to its promise to deliver a healthy meal that pops with flavor. All the dishes have been designed to give the diner a thoughtful mix of textures and flavors.
Freshii’s formula is to compose entrees with a base of crisp crunch from the vegetables and soft textures from the noodles, rice and quinoa, and then top them off with sauces and dressings that combine a punch of sweet and spicy. As is very common in this style of fast casual (think Chipotle or Mod Market), you can customize your order by adding and deleting ingredients. In addition, you have the option to add a protein, such as grilled chicken, turkey carnitas, tofu, or falafel, for an extra fee. However, unlike other fast casual restaurants, the emphasis is on lean proteins. The proteins are tasty but not overly spiced or salted. The meats are hormone and antibiotic free. Freshii uses local ingredients where possible and about 50% of the vegetables are organic.
The dressings complement the assortment in each dish and drive the menu’s international flavors, such as:
American—BBQ, Buffalo, Honey Mustard
Asian—Teriyaki, Siracha, Peanut, Lemongrass
Mexican—Cilantro Lime, Pico de Gallo
Mediterranean—Balsamic, Red Bell Pepper, Olive Oil
We sampled a smattering of the menu and here is what we found.
The lemongrass soup had nice balance of bright flavors from cilantro and tomato balanced with tang from the lemongrass. It’s a big bowl of soup and a good value.
The chili is a vegan base of beans including, black, kidney, white and chickpeas. It has a good flavor and a creamy texture. You can order the chili over rice or on top of a salad. We tried it with the turkey carnitas, which was exceptionally tender and flavorful.
The salads and wraps use the same combination of ingredients, letting you choose to have your meal served in a salad or wrap format. The wrap has two options – a whole wheat tortilla and a very interesting twist on a gluten free dish. Rather than using a gluten free grain, Freshii rolls your wrap in a blanched collard green leaf. Its bright green color is not only fresh and beautiful, but makes for a lighter meal. It reminded us of the lettuce wrapped appetizers common in Vietnamese restaurants. We sampled a Cobb gluten free wrap. The filling was a traditional Cobb with bacon, cheese and vegetables dressed with a very good honey mustard dressing. The dressing delivered a pop of sweet and spicy, beautifully complementing the creamy avocado and smoky bacon. We really enjoyed the collard wrap as it gave the wrap an extra dose of crunch. However, be warned —if you choose this preparation, grab some extra napkins as the greens can’t hold the plentiful fillings as efficiently as a tortilla.
We also sampled the Metaboost salad. It is one of the lighter salads on the menu, with an interesting mix of vegetables, goat cheese, almonds, and a nice vinaigrette dressing. While not as flavor-packed as other menu items, its well-balanced flavors were delicious.
The bowls are good sized portions. They use a brown rice base, however you can substitute quinoa or kale for the rice. The Pangoa, a TexMex option, is their most popular bowl. It is quite filling, laden with rice, black beans, avocado, tomatoes and corn, and dressed with a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce. The sauce was a little sweet for our taste, and if ordering it again, we would try it with either quinoa or kale to lighten it up.
Finally, we tasted the Bangkok Burrito and were delighted with the crunchy texture from the cucumbers, cabbage and carrots offset by the soft rice and peanut dressing. Bursting with flavor, it is a large meal if you are very hungry. The combination of the tortilla and rice is very filling, so if you desire a lighter meal two options are to have it as a bowl or substitute the kale for the rice.
There is also a range of smoothies, frozen yogurt, and breakfast is served with offerings ranging from eggs to oatmeal to yogurt. We did not try any of these selections.
Overall the nutritionals are quite reasonable for this style of restaurant. If nutrition is a big concern, be sure to look carefully at the menu as the sodium, carbs or sugars in some of the entrees can sneak up on you, and substitutions can be made to suit your taste and dietary wishes. Happily, it’s easy to check as the nutritionals are readily available. There are good choices for lightening your meal such as substituting quinoa or kale for the rice, making it a salad rather than a bowl. There is also a complete custom option if you like—just ask and you can create your personalized combination of any of the ingredients on the menu.
The restaurant is bright, yet small. Crisp white with light wood and green accents emphasize the overall modern theme. You order at the counter and preparation is quick. If you eat in, there is a choice of tables in the restaurant or a small outdoor patio in the front. Take out options include order by phone or on-line direct from the restaurant or via Hungry Buffs and Grub Hub food service.
Prices are reasonable ranging from about $7-11.00 depending on your selection and whether you add a protein. Bottled and canned drinks are available, however there are no beer or wine selections.
If you are on the Hill and want a tasty, fresh quick meal, Freshii is a great choice. I plan to return when I want a meal before or after a concert or lecture at the University. It is particularly convenient if you’re going to an event at CU.