Im not a big fan of buffet style restaurants. I like the wide open selection of food items and the self- service aspect makes it easy to get the exact portion sizes to fit ones desires. But I still tend to avoid buffets because the temptation/tendency to overeat is too great. I tend to want to sample a little bit of many things, and this usually leads to over-consumption and a bad case of indigestion.
But some buffets are less likely to induce overeating due to their limited amount of food and other factors. One buffet that doesnt leave me feeling bloated is Souper Salad, a buffet that emphasizes lighter eating fare.
Souper Salad offers food items in a few different categories. The food items are divided into the following sections:
Salads- The salad bar at Souper Salad is generous, with a large number of vegetable and other toppings. A few specialty salads, cole slaw, and other like products are also offered.
Soup- The other staple food item at Souper Salad is the soup, and there are usually three or four different soups from which to select.
Pasta- Like the soup section, the pasta bar offers a few different pasta products that rotate and change from one location to the next. Spaghetti, chicken alfredo, tortellini, and other products could be offered at any given time.
Bread- Here, customers will find choices like garlic bread, corn bread, ginger bread, and a few others.
Pizza- Choices offered include plain cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and garden vegetable.
Dessert- Flavored puddings, raw fruit, shortcake, ice milk, and assorted sundae toppings are available at the dessert bar.
Besides these main areas of food, Souper Salad can also be counted on offer a few more hot foods to round out the menu. This Hot Bar usually offers baked potatoes, quesadilla, rice, etc.; basically, side items to complement a main meal.
Souper Salad is a small buffet restaurant with only about fifteen to twenty tables for seating. There is little in the way of attractive surroundings. You might find a painting or two on the walls, but there is no distinctive theme at Souper Salad. It is common to hear 1960s pop tunes playing in the background, but other than that, there is nothing to distinguish Souper Salad. People come here to grab a bite to eat and leave.
Souper Salad is a small restaurant, but the turnover of customers seems to move quickly, enabling the customer to get seated fairly quickly. The customer service staff is very attentive, checking tables periodically, removing used plates, and refilling soft drinks without hesitation. Even when the restaurant is busy, the staff seems to have things under control.
Souper Salad is a relatively new restaurant experience for me. I was first introduced to the Souper Salad concept when I arrived in my new home state of Texas for the first time. The clever name caught my attention and coupon discounts convinced me to give the restaurant a try. It was obvious that soup and salad were part of the menu, but I was curious to find out what else was offered and how Souper Salad would measure up against other buffet style restaurants.
Like I stated in my opening paragraph, I am not a big fan of buffet style restaurants and the main reason for my disliking is due to the tendency to overeat. You pay a flat fee in exchange for eating as much as you like, and with an offer like that, I tend to stretch my stomach to the limits. My problem is that I want to sample so many different things. I eat small amounts of each food item, but I will often fill and empty my plate anywhere from three to five times as I attempt to sample as many food products as I can.
Souper Salad is a buffet, but I dont seem to have this problem with overeating when I visit Souper Salad. The reason is the lack of selection. Normally, a small selection at a buffet restaurant would be a definite strike against the establishment and I admit that I often wish there was more to choose from at Souper Salad. But at the same time, I appreciate the small selection because it helps me to curb my appetite. I usually start with a serving of the specialty potato salad (regular salad is boring and something I can get anywhere- I go for the specialty salads) and a bowl of soup. Then, my second trip to the buffet will include a couple slices of pizza, macaroni and cheese, and/or spaghetti. After these two full- plate servings of food, I usually end my meal with an ice milk sundae. This is a good deal less than I eat when I visit most buffets and I have the small selection at Souper Salald to thank. Add some steak, chicken fingers, pork chops, and other like foods to the menu and I would almost certainly consume another full plate of food before going back for my ice milk sundae finale.
As far as the quality of the food, Souper Salad is average overall, but there are some tasty morsels to be found. It is just a matter of seeking them out. Your best bet is to look for something with an interesting name and give it a try. Most of the other foods are rather bland and unexciting, and this is especially true of the pizza, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti. The sundaes are rather boring, too, since they are made with ice milk. But the soups and specialty salads make up for everything. Southwest Chicken Chipotle, Asian Chicken Salad, Twice Baked Potato Soup, and White Bean Chicken Chili Stew are among some examples of more interesting fare.
Among the other qualities of Souper Salad, the one I like best is the policy toward children: Kids age four and under get a free buffet! And to help parent organize their little ones food and make it more acceptable to those who are fussy, Souper Salad offers compartmentalized trays. These are large trays. They are not sized for kids, but youngsters like them because they can separate their food into separate compartments, thereby keeping each item in its own place and preventing different foods from mixing.
Prices at Souper Salad are less expensive than other buffets. The main reason, of course, is the limited menu but the small size of the restaurants doesnt hurt, either. It is also common to find coupons for a couple of dollars off the cost of a buffet, lowering the price to only about $5 per adult! Quite simply, it is difficult to find any dining establishment with prices this low. The soft drinks are only about 99 cents for unlimited refills (Please note that specialty drinks, lemonade, and other beverages do not include free refills), so the total tab with tax ranges from about $6.50 to $8.50 per adult, making Souper Salad one of the best dining deals around.
Souper Salad has about 84 locations in twelve states: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. The chain was founded in Houston, Texas, and is now headquartered in San Antonio. It is expanding, but slowly. The concept is a great idea and the prices are difficult to beat, but the expansion efforts have been constrained. I expect this will change in due time as more and more consumers are exposed to the Souper Salad buffet concept.
Overall, Souper Salad is a good little restaurant that offers healthier alternatives than most other buffets and a more limited selection. It would be nice if there were more meats and other main dish items to choose from, but the lighter menu and lack of heavy food items means a visit to Souper Salad is less likely to contribute to an expanding waistline or a ruptured stomach. Add to that the low cost of an adult buffet and the free buffet offer for kids age four and under and you have all the ingredients for a winning restaurant.
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