With 97 restaurants, Sweet Tomatoes is an obvious success. In fact, we enjoy it so much that the eatery has become our destination restaurant for soup and salad and for whenever we are entertaining out-of-town family and friends.
Sweet Tomatoes’ story started in 1978 in San Diego, where two California surfers had a vision to create a healthy place to eat where possibilities were endless. They decided they wanted to open a restaurant full of options that used the freshest fruits and vegetables, plus soups and baked goods made from scratch – a place where the farm truly meets the table.
The delicious, healthy and fresh ingredient restaurant, also known in some locations as Soup Plantation, has something for everyone – vegetarian, vegan and gluten-friendly choices. You can see the menu by clicking HERE. You also can check out an interactive nutrition menu to help you make the dietary choices that you may be restricted to by clicking HERE.
Sweet Tomatoes’ Lady Lake location is easy to find at 508 U.S. Hwy. 27/441 (to the left of Arby’s and across the street from the entrance to Sam’s Club and Texas Roadhouse). There is plenty of parking, as it’s located in a small strip shopping center.
When you enter the restaurant, you’re greeted with a friendly “hello” as you step in line to the enormous length of the self-serve salad bar. Just take a tray and a plate and you’re on your way.
The salad bar offers several different types of lettuce, and once that difficult choice is made, you make your way down to the impressive selection of toppings. Each item is clearly labeled on the top of the sneeze guard. It’s very tempting to overfill your plate, so be assured that you can go back if your first trip through wasn’t enough (and yes, we’re frequently guilty of overfilling).
At the end of the line, you’ll pick up your utensils and make your choice of beverage. The cashier is at the very end and that’s where you pay. The pricing is very reasonable considering that you have even more choices after you’ve chosen your seat (booths or tables). The next trip you make is to the “beverage bar” and then to the “hot bar.”
At the “hot bar,” you’ll be able to serve yourself from an impressive selection of hot soups, baked potatoes, pastas and fresh baked breads. We are personally not fans of the pasta bar, but the pizza bread at the end of the counter is delicious, as is the fresh sour dough loaf.
One of the best features is that you can go back for more – for anything – if you haven’t had your fill yet. But once that’s accomplished, your final stop will be the “dessert bar,” where you’ll find the ice cream machine, assorted toppings, puddings and sweets.
All of the items throughout the restaurant are fresh and continually replenished. Even though it is self-serve, there’s staff on the floor to assist you and clear away your empty plates or provide special assistance if needed.
We’ve found there are two types of rushes at the restaurant. We either arrive during the rush, where the floor staff is diligently clearing tables as fast as possible so customers can be seated. Or we get there after the rush and basically have the place to ourselves. We can’t quite tell you what those specific times are, as we can’t get it right, either. Of course, we consider ourselves lucky to arrive after the rush.
But no matter when we’ve arrived, we’ve always found that the food to be fresh and plentiful. And perhaps most important – we’ve never had a bad experience there.
Sweet Tomatoes is open seven days a week from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Lunch costs $10.29 and is served from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dinner will run you $12.39 and lasts from 4-9 p.m. Children 3 and under eat free, while the charge for kids ages 4-11 is just $6.49.