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Thoughts on 'Sweet Tomatoes'

I've recently visited my parents twice in Florida and each time we went to 'Tomatoe's', once for lunch and once for dinner. Have to say I loved it. The place was spotlessly clean, the workers were all friendly and accomodating. The hot foods were tasty and filling, the salad options plentiful and the soups very good to excellent. I'm wondering what others think of Tomatoe's.

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  1. If you're thinking of Sweet Tomatoes, I think it's dreadful. The one in The Woodlands, Texas is woefully understaffed and the dining room is always filled with dirty tables that never get cleaned. The prepared salads at the front of the line are usually limp and underdressed. The rest of the salad bar is fresh enough, but the soups - my GOD, the salt. The pastas are cold and bland. But my biggest complaint is that the building itself is far too small for all the various lines and the hordes of people packing in there. Someone is always running into someone else. In my case, on my last visit I left reeking of the shrimp bisque that had been spilled all over my shirt by someone who wasn't looking (ran head first right into me). Maybe your location is different - I would hope so - but I'm not giving Sweet Tomatoes another try for a while.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jim1126

      Sounds dreadful. Luckily (for me) I didn't run into any of those problems on either of my visits. The salads were all fresh and crisp, the soups were hot. The location I was at (Winter Park, FL. maybe?) was busy but not overly so and the tables seemed to be bussed as soon as they were empty.

      1. re: Drew E

        My father goes to one in Palm Beach Co. all the time. I haven't been to it, but he gives it the sames thumbs up as you. I trust his judegement too. I wonder why they haven't brought one up to the Northern NY, NJ suburbs? I think they would do very well.

    2. I have never had a bad experience at the one here in Fort Myers. It is always packed, but they have no problem keeping it clean and the selection stocked. I appreciate the fact that they always have several low-fat, low-sodium, and vegetarian items available. Their website has comprehensive nutrition info for every dish served so it makes it easy to stop there for a quick uncomplicated lunch that you don't have to feel guilty about later. I especially have a thang for the lowfat cornbread.

      1. we have several in the Tampa area, and I have always had a good experience there, the salads tend to be made regularly enough to keep fresh. there is always one I find really interesting, I agree with jim about the pastas though, they are generally a waste of time in my opinion, over cooked, bland and uninspired, I generally skip them, I do usually find a soup I like though. I love the muffins, particularly the bran muffins.

        1 Reply
        1. re: willdupre

          Same here in NC. The restaurant is always clean and the staff is extremely attentive. Boy, are the pastas ever bad, though! The soups are pretty good and the chicken noodle comes very close to being a traditional Southern chicken and dumplings. A little too thin to be the real thing but it tastes great. The Senate bean soup is worth the second trip back, too. I just hate that they downsized the soup bowls recently. I find that I always overeat there too much to consider the restaurant healthy, though.

        2. Sweet Tomatoes - Glenview, IL - is fine. However, I initially went there because DH and I are on WW. However, we found the soups, baked potato bar, and desserts too tempting. We ate more junk than salad. I have always had good service at that one. and it was clean, too. Hard to do for a 100% buffet restaurant

          1. I've always thought they have done a good to very good job of providing a wide variety of foods served up well (known as Souplantation in California). My complaints are:

            None of the potato salads are worth a damn

            They don't have my favorite Mandarin Krab salad anymore (or at least not when I am there)

            No non-screaming-children section

            And I am with those who are unhappy about the downsized soupbowls. I happen to like doctoring my soups with the fixins from the baked potato bar (the pico de gallo is excellent, and perks up anything it's added to). The smaller bowls make it difficult to get the right soup-to-fixins ratio.

            1 Reply
            1. re: GroovinGourmet

              GroovinGourmet...me too! Yesterday Sweet Tomatoes featured their Rosemary Potato soup. I tried to add bacon, cheese, spring onion and sourcream to make it my version of a baked potato soup....unfortunately w/ the small bowls...it was 'Overflow' City!
              But very Yummy!!

            2. Souplantation (which is what they are called in SoCal) is one of those places... I get a hankering for it about three times a year. Then as soon as I get jostled through the line, see the salad dressings all in each other (you got your honey mustard in my cucumber! no, you got your cucumber in my honey mustard!)

              Then I go to get the pizza (it's tasty, I like it, it's not really pizza but I don't care) and soup, and it's a madhouse. I've never yet seen one where that area was orderly or clean. Pasta all over the tray sliders and the floor. Kids barrelling past intent only on the ice cream machine, which spits its gobs of sugar all over the tray and the kids and the floor. The elderly, who are attracted by the value (it IS a good value), trying to stay upright -- the indecisive dithering over whether they want Clam and Salt Chowder or Potato and Salt Soup.

              It's enough to drive a sane man to heartless acts of murder ("it was the fat guy, in the beverage bar, with the coffee stirrer!").

              The taste? It's OK. The prepared salads are never good unless you get lucky and they make it right in front of you. Never buy the dried-out meat additions, it's such a ripoff. Your chances are best with soups that are in full crocks, because it means they haven't had a chance to reduce for hours and concentrate the salt. You can make a tasty "brownie" sundae for dessert.

              It's cheap. It's hugely popular. They give AAA discount of 10%. That's nice.

              And so I go -- a few times a year.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                No, of coure it' not "really pizza" ... it's focaccia!


              2. In San Francisco Bay Area, they serve breakfast every Sunday from 9am - noon.
                The location I've been to here, the restaurants are pretty clean and nice.

                1. The Sweet Tomatoes on I-10 in Houston, Tx is spotless, delicious and well staffed. You could spend all day making yourself a salad. The bar is so long and offers so much. I have never had the pasta but I do love the different breads they serve. They had a herbed turkey soup around thanksgiving that was so good, and I like the selection of fruits and desserts. Yummy place to eat.

                  1. This might be the only chain where I eat regularly, and just the salad and maybe the berry sorbet because I have an aversion to steam table food. The ones in Broward, FL are always really clean, if slightly chaotic, and they have normal sized lemons for the drinks, not those 1/18th of a lemon that you find at most places. My only problem is that the overzealous staff clears your table even if you use their little sign that says you'll be right back.

                    1. I like Sweet Tomatoes. My mom and I go there all the time. But I'm not so crazy about Souplantation (the same chain as Sweet Tomatoes) in California. Sweet Tomatoes in AZ is better. I like their soups and focaccia.

                      1. I love Sweet Tomatoes. We have always found the valley-area (AZ) locations to be clean and well stocked. It's a great place to take our 5-yo DS b/c of the great variety. I love their broccoli salad w/ the cashews and raisins, yum! And I always make my own Greek salad w/ lots of feta cheese, kalamata olives, red onions, and their Greek dressing. Their muffins are all good, I had a carrot one recently that was esp. good. For dessert, we take one of the choc. muffins, put it in a soup bowl, and top it w/ the soft serve ice cream for dessert. Oh - our locations serve breakfast, too. LOVE the cinnamon biscuits w/ the little drizzle of glaze on top.

                        1 Reply
                        1. I live in Fort Myers and have eaten several times at the Sweet Tomatoes there and I have to say its actually really good. I pretty much eat salad every day for lunch, so I am always looking for new places to go. The salad bar there is actually quite good. Everything is really fresh and they have a lot of options. I can't really attest to the other food there, but my dad thinks its pretty good. It is by no means a GREAT restaurant, but for what it is, its not half bad.

                          1. I like Sweet Tomatoes a lot. It is not gourmet, but you can find food to eat that doesn't make you feel guilty later. When we find one of these on the road we always get cheered up, because most road food for us is deadly. I love their turkey chili, and the broccoli salad. I've been to both St. Louis area locations, and to the Clackamas OR and the Denver locations, and have found them all clean and appetizing. It is the only place in the world where I will eat tapioca! Nevertheless, I do wish there were not so much salt in the soups and chilis and not so much sugar (HCFS, I think) in the desserts.

                            1. The locations we have visited are here in metro Atlanta. It is possible to eat healthy - or not - as one chooses various offerings. The salad offerings are generally good, fresh, and plentiful - wonderful for those of us who like a tremendous variety. The soups generally get good reviews. The pasta is only worth eating when one sees it being delivered to the line - then it is fresh and hot. The muffins are also best when fresh. During peak times this is not a problem. Some of the soups, some of the salads, some of the other items are very unhealthy - very high fat content. I just don't choose those items (very often).

                              Our locations are always clean or in the process of being cleaned. With tremendous volume, there are frequently tables waiting to be cleared and spills waiting to be cleaned. It never takes long for staff to address those issues.

                              1. The one in Cary NC, is always very clean. I have never had anything but great fresh salad fixings there. I enjoy their soups very much. I always go for the broccoli madness, it is really tasty. I agree about their pastas they are really bland and dreadful, but i can find plenty of other things to my liking.

                                1. I wouldn't call Sweet Tomatoes anything special but I certainly do appreciate it as an option in the fast-food wasteland surrounding my office!

                                  1. I go back and forth about Sweet Tomatoes. I love the idea of it...unlimited soups, pasta, salad...but in the end, I never usually come away having loved everything I just put in my mouth. I usually feel gross from overeating.

                                    But, I still go, and I do thoroughly enjoy their Caesar salad. A word of caution: their pasta ALWAYS looks better than it tastes...