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Aug 22, 2008 07:45 PM

All-you-can-eat salad buffet bar + soups/bread

My family just moved to Columbia, MD and we miss a restaurant called Sweet Tomatoes terribly. Sweet Tomatoes offers an extensive all-you-can-eat salad buffet with several fresh-made soups, breads, and simple desserts such as frozen yogurt, fruit, and jello -- all for about $12 in Atlanta. The restaurant is actually part of a chain based on the West Coast and along the southern part of the U.S. Another similar chain offered on the west coast is Fresh Choice.

Would anyone happen know if the Baltimore/Washington, DC area has a similar type of restaurant? We're really craving some awesome salad!


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      1. re: wayne keyser

        Maybe my experience was unusual, but I ate at an Old Country Buffet in York, PA a couple years ago and swore never to repeat the experience. I know people want details as to why, but I've repressed the memory really well.

        How about Whole Foods? They have a salad & hot food bar (though the catch is that you go in with the idea of getting salad and end up with a giant vat of black cherry BBQ pork ribs and mashed potatoes).

        1. re: rarotonga

          Yes, the Whole Foods salad and hot food bars are wonderful but you need to keep in mind as you're piling all that yummy food onto your plate that it will be weighed and I think it's about $8.00/pound, right? I like the salad/hot food bars at the Fair Lakes (Fairfax) WF...especially the chicken/pasta/caesar salad...and a dark colored rice with bits of fresh pineapple in it (some type of Thai rice salad). The Indian food is delicious but extremely hot!! (wish they'd set aside the same Indian items but less spicey).

          1. re: rarotonga

            I didn't say it was great, just that it was an AYCE with a salad bar. South Park made fun of the chain as exclusively a haven for residents of nearby nursing homes.

            Rosslyn's "Orleans House" being gone now (*wipes away a tear*) that just leaves Pistone's at 7 Corners in Falls Church, that I know about, for dine-in.

            Shoppers Food Warehouse has some decent selections on the take-out salad bar, especially if you factor in the separate buffet of olives and other marinated items. And if you're going to do that, hit the deli for some cheeses and sliced meats and be very happy. But the OP asked about dine-in.

            Some of the larger Chinese buffets have some good salad bar selections, others are miserable.

        2. Okay, Old Country and the Chinese buffets are SO not what you're looking for! I really miss Sweet Tomatoes. I don't know of anyplace around here that's like that. I wish they'd open one (or more!).

          5 Replies
          1. re: wookyluvr

            I went to the Sweet Tomatoes website, and it's almost enough to make me move to a state where they are.

            1. re: wayne keyser

              We used to have a place or two like that. I remember one (was it Sgt. Pepper's?) at the shopping center in the old AT&T building in the Pentagon City area across the street from Costco, but it didn't last very long. And I think there may have been one in Landmark Mall. I guess this just isn't the are for that sort of restaurant, or maybe it just got too expensive to bring in the fresh product and sell it for a price consistent with "I just want a salad for lunch."

              Whenever I'm in California for more than a few days, I usually hit a Souplantation when I feel like "just a salad" (and of course overeat).

              1. re: MikeR

                I also miss Sgt Peppers and have been surprised that many others like it have not opened in this area.

                1. re: bucknell

                  All you can eat isn't considered very healthy these days, even when what's offered looks sort of healthy. I do remember Sgt. Pepper's in the shopping center across from Pentagon City. I wasn't hungry enough to eat all I could eat.

                  Kind of reminded me of Souplantation where I've occasionally had a lunch when in California, but the closest they get to here is North Carolina. There's probably a good reason for that.

            2. re: wookyluvr

              I was thinking the same thing as I read most of the replies -- people are trying to be helpful, of course, but anyone suggesting Old Country Buffet when the OP asked for a place like Sweet Tomatoes clearly has never been to Sweet Tomatoes! Like everyone else, I lament the fact that there is nothing like it around here. Man, I wish there were.

            3. You're just not going to find a quality salad bar like that in this area that I know of. I went to Old Country Buffet once (actually because a friend and I had a running joke about the place). It's atrocious, Stay far, far away.

              The only other AYCE salad bar in your area that I can think of is at Ruby Tuesday's. It's -- well, it is what it is.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JonParker

                In my previous life, I had spent a lot of time working in Albuquerque, and would find my way to Sweet Tomatoes for lunch at least once a week. While generally not fond of AYCES or buffets, ST was the exception. And, now that you bring it up, it's sort of amazing that there's such a general lack of places that it in the area.

              2. Thanks, everyone, so much for your responses! Alas, I guess we'll just have to make do with Ruby Tuesday salads and home-made versions. Such as the sacrifices of moving. At least I know I'm in a friendly company of foodies! Thanks again!

                2 Replies
                1. re: shade_tails

                  i was going to say ruby tuesday is the best you are going to find -- but i haven't been to pistones.

                  whole foods' salad bar will require a second mortgage if you get a plateful like you might at an ayce place.

                  i love a good salad bar!

                  1. re: shade_tails

                    I lived in SoCal for a while and miss A LOT of the great places out there, including ST(Soup Plantation). Although it is absolutely not the same, I like the salad bar at Ruby Tuesday(I just had it yesterday, AAMOF). There is also a large salad bar at the Golden Bull in Gaithersburg MD. I went there once a long time ago and remember it being acceptable. The atmosphere in that restaurant, though, is a little creepy. It is recommended with reservations. For great breads and soups, a good alternative is Panera. Try the sunflower seed bread. Cheers!