About a year ago, a friend clued me in to a great restaurant that she and her family loved. We tried it as well, and it has quickly become one of my and my kids’ favorites too – although since both of the ones here are located way across town we don’t get over there very often. Noodles & Company has more than just ‘noodles’ – with 14 fresh vegetables on their menu, it was also an obvious choice for a dinner out last summer when my vegetarian brother was over to visit.
What they are:
Noodles & Company is a ‘fast-casual’ restaurant that offers the easy ordering and seating options of a fast-food restaurant but the menu options and healthier choices that you can usually only find at a dine-in restaurant. You order at the counter, then seat yourself – and your food is brought out to you when it’s ready. You can choose from a pasta, soup or salad bowl then add options like protein (meats or tofu) or vegetables and other sides to any dish. There are three main categories of dishes: Asian, Mediterranean, or American – or you can customize your own meal.
Noodles & Company recognizes the importance of access to nutritious food served quickly and strives to provide customers with affordable meals prepared from fresh and healthy ingredients. In fact, Noodles & Company has 14 fresh vegetables on their menu, and what kid doesn’t like pasta? A great alternative to fried and fatty fast food, Noodles & Company offers dishes loaded with fresh and in-season vegetables that the whole family can enjoy. You can dine in or take your meal to go; either way, your sautéed-to-order meal is usually ready in about 5 minutes.
In honor of asparagus season, which runs from April to June in the U.S., Noodles & Company has introduced its new Asparagus & Lemon Linguine dish. Made with crisp, seasonal asparagus, snap peas, lemon juice, basil, red onions, mushrooms, and feta served over regular or whole wheat linguine, the dish highlights the flavor of this delicious green and helps incorporate a new vegetable into your kids’ diet. Noodles & Company also has created a Web site www.noodles.com/asparagus dedicated to this popular vegetable that includes tips on how to select asparagus, cook asparagus, a recipe for you to prepare at home and other fun ideas.
Here’s my our take on them:
With my husband’s long work hours right now and the fact that my kids usually share their meals when we eat at Noodles & Company, I was more than happy to share our coupons with my friend Kristi and her boys so that we could all eat out together. We went on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, after a long day of holding a joint garage sale at my house.
One thing that I love about Noodles & Company is that they offer Horizon Organic milk drink boxes as a beverage option – since my kids don’t drink soda, we’re always on the lookout for white milk for them to drink. Each of my girls has a favorite dish – my oldest loves the buttered noodles (on the ‘American’ menu) with a sprinkle of cheese on top, and my younger two are huge fans of the Wisconsin Mac & Cheese (also on the ‘American’ menu). I split a large portion between the two of them and every last noodle was gobbled up. I wish my kids would eat more vegetables – and I am glad that Noodles & Company offers the option to add them to any bowl. My oldest daughter has told me recently that she likes broccoli – so the next time we eat there, I’ll order some along with her meal for her to try. Convincing her younger sisters to try some will be the real challenge, but I’m up for it.
My kids’ favorite part of eating there are the chopsticks, which are set out as an option if you choose to use them (they do have traditional silverware in case you prefer that – and it’s ‘real’ silverware too, not plastic). They also have plastic chopsticks ‘grippers’ that basically turn them into a giant pair of tweezers – making them very easy for kids to use. My oldest uses chopsticks exclusively when we eat there, and even my youngest can pick up and eat her noodles with chopsticks now.
One cute story – with so many noodles (and of different kinds) served, it’s not uncommon for a stray or two to make it into your dish. My kids have always freaked out to find a macaroni noodle in their buttered noodles or vice versa, but Kristi has a creative solution we learned about on this trip. She calls the strays ‘bonus noodles’ and makes it a challenge to see how many ‘bonuses’ they can find in their bowls every time. My girls had so much fun with this – not only does it involve keeping track of and counting different types of noodles, but they’re motivated to finish every last bite of their meals to find every single ‘bonus’ in there. Brilliant!
My ‘usual’ meal at Noodles & Company is their Caesar salad, with the addition of a seasoned chicken breast as protein. I almost opted to try the new Asparagus & Lemon Linguine dish this time instead, but I’m not a big fan of lemon flavored food (outside of desserts anyway) and I decided at the last minute to stay with something I know. Unlike when I usually order salads at fast-food restaurants, I didn’t have to sort through and pick out the lettuce that was starting to wilt or turn brown – having a salad that I know is served fresh makes me very happy.
It’s so refreshing to know that there are ‘fast and easy’ options out there that don’t involve hamburgers, chicken nuggets or fries, and that I can find healthy choices when we’re on-the-go or wanting a nice family meal away from home. I just wish there was a Noodles & Company on our side of town!
The bottom line:
Whether you’re on-the-go or dining out, Noodles & Company helps you and your family eat healthier by offering fresh vegetable, protein and pasta options that you can customize to fit your needs. They even provide allergy-related and other nutritional information so that if you have specific dietary needs, you can see what the best choices are.
Where can you find them?:
Noodles & Company has 240 locations across 18 states – you can use the restaurant locator on their site to find one near you.
I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Noodles & Company and received five Noodles & Company bowl cards to facilitate my review. Mom Central also sent me a thank-you gift certificate.