It was quite the scorcher in SoCal when I caught up with chef Kyle Markt at the Green Tomato Grill. To be quite honest, I’d never been before but it was on my radar due to the raving Yelp reviews. People loved that it was fresh, fast casual food and healthier than most other choices out there.
The Green Tomato Grill (GTG) strives to bring you an experience that is fast, healthy, and tasty yet when people think “healthy,” they don’t necessarily think tasty and when combined with “fast,” they’re thinking it’s all a ploy but folks, that’s where you’re wrong. It’s all that and more especially in an area that’s serious about healthy food concepts.
GTG is a tiny spot located in north Orange County across from the Toyota of Orange. The layout is fun and appealing but the menu is the real star. A friend (Wendy of Wendyful World) and I sat down with chef Kyle Markt as he passionately poured his heart out about the food and concept. We couldn’t wait to dig in. Luckily, they read our minds and brought out their signature popped corn and fried green tomatoes.
At first bite, I was instantly addicted. For a mere $1, the popped corn is a blend of sunflower oil and adobo seasoning. Simple, yet hard to eat just one. I dare you. The tiny portion went quickly between the two of us. Fresh popped corn is much more refined than the bag variety at the grocery store and with the blend of ingredients it’s like a merry mix on your palate. Up next, we couldn’t wait to nosh on the fried green tomatoes. Wendy was eager to chow down and happily exclaimed it was her first tryst with this fried treat. Panko crusted and served with GTG dipping sauce; we were disappointed that the portion was so small. Left wanting more while licking our lips, we perused the menu and selected our taste preferences for the evening and here’s where I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Quite possibly one of my favorite dishes of the evening was the Chipotle Barbeque Shrimp melt. We were oohing and aahing as it arrived to our table. Being a lover of flatbreads in general and gooey melted cheese, this was an instant win. In this treat, you’ll find luscious pieces of grilled lemongrass shrimp topped with a mix of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, onions, corn, and pepper served up with a barbeque sauce. I’m not a big fan of barbeque (don’t hate me), but this sauce was quite pleasing. I held onto it throughout the evening to try with other dishes that came out and ended up absolutely loving it by the end of the night. Go figure. A stubborn goat like me loving something I hate.
After a mouth watering crowd pleaser, we picked and prodded through the Chili Verde Steak Bowl. I can see this one being a favorite with the to-go crowd, the health conscious office worker, or the fitness freaks. For me, it was a delectable bowl of happiness that could have used some more chili verde sauce but hey guess what? I had my barbeque sauce and happily blended the two together to create my own mix of whatever. The bowl itself is made up of grilled marinated steak, chili verde sauce, and cilantro lime rice topped with avocado, black beans, corn, cilantro, onions, and peppers.
This is actually the Thai Tofu wrap but being the adventurers we are (not really), we subbed out the tofu for chicken. Pretty cool, eh? I’m a sucker for Thai food, Thai peanut sauce, etc. Bring it on. There is a mint flavor prevalent in this dish that may overwhelm you but I found it refreshing and while I wasn’t a big fan of the tortilla wrapper; the blend of carrots, cabbage, cilantro, onions, cucumbers, edamame and mixed greens with Thai peanut sauce had my taste buds dancing happily.
After all that food, our stomachs needed a bit of break. This crispy tofu salad did the trick. The perfectly crisp pieces of tofu blend well with the mix of edamame, peppers, cucumbers, avocados, jicama, and tomatoes on a bed of mixed greens. I found myself dipping the tofu in my barbeque sauce. Told you I loved that stuff.
Perfect for a rainy day, a cold night, or any day you’re seeking comfort is this delicate French onion soup. The broth isn’t as overwhelming and rich as most other soups but what you’ll find is that it’s made fresh daily, healthy, and quite delicious.
There’s always room for dessert as far as I’m concerned. GTG offers up a selection of baked goods from Sensitive Sweets that are gluten-free, nut free and surprisingly delicious like the food at GTG. My favorite was the cookie dough truffle even though I’m not a big fan of truffles. Surprise, surprise. My palate seems to have a mind of its own lately.
Special thanks to chef Kyle Markt (pictured above) for a lovely evening and a wonderful tasting adventure. This gal will be back and for those of you wondering how all this goodness could possibly be so healthy, fear not – the caloric count is printed on the menu. Veni, vidi, edi.