Note: As of December 2012, Greenlife Grocery is now officially known as Whole Foods Market. They have rearranged the store extensively. They do still serve sandwiches but I don’t know if the selections remain the same.
Greenlife is Chattanooga’s Whole Foods Market. While you might not think that this qualifies as “local”, let me explain. Greenlife started as a locally-owned grocery store, and it was acquired by Whole Foods in 2010. While there have been several changes to make Greenlife a Whole Foods store, there have also been many things left the same, and the menu is one of those things (I am sure that there are some Whole Foods menu items that have been added, but the menu items from Greenlife remain). So….I made the determination to count this as local.
We decided to eat at Greenlife since I had a few staples that I needed to pick up from the bulk food section and I had a gift card. I didn’t think to even check out the hot bar, which changes daily, to see what was available. There is also a salad bar (hot bar and salad bar are priced by weight) but I was definitely not in the mood for salad. I did look at the soup (there are eight rotating soups available plus crackers and cornbread) but decided against it. Their pizza is great, with several varieties of the large slices available daily….always pepperoni and cheese, plus another few vegetarian varieties and varieties including meat. I knew that I wanted a sandwich, though. Their sandwiches are my favorite-they have paninis, cold sandwiches, and wraps. You circle your order on a slip of paper and hand it to the person who is making the sandwiches.
I love their Southern Belle panini (pimento cheese) and their BLT, but I decided to go for the Cha-Town club on this day. According to the menu, the Cha-Town club is turkey, bacon, cheese, spinach, avocado, tomato, and garlic aioli (a garlicky mayonnaise sauce). Since I am currently obsessed with avocado, I decided to go for this one (there were a few others with avocado, but this one was really appealing to me). Unfortunately, they left the avocado off! It was still great. The bacon was delicious and the sandwich was ample. I usually don’t like sandwiches with this much meat, but this one was really delicious. I just love the aioli, and I love that their sandwiches, which are pressed with a little oil, don’t have so much oil as to be greasy on the outside. I had a bag of Food Should Taste Good sweet potato tortilla chips and a 365 Cola. Usually, we just drink the free cucumber water that is available in their dining area, but I decided to have a rare treat. We almost never drink soda-in restaurants or otherwise-but I love the 365 Cola. 365 is the Whole Foods store brand. They do not use high fructose corn syrup…while I know that cane sugar isn’t “healthy” by any means, I do feel a little less guilty about consuming it in a rare soda than I do about HCFS. But I digress. This was a delicious sandwich. I ate about 3/4 of it, and I was stuffed!
Philip decided to go for the turkey-pesto panini. It may have another name, but if it does, neither of us can remember it, and their menu is not listed online! I’ll have to check it out next time I go. If you know, tell me! I kind of had a restaurant reviewer panic moment when neither of us could remember…but what are you going to do? Anyway, the sandwich is turkey, cheese, pesto, tomato, and red onion. The people behind the counter must have been really distracted on this day (they were super-busy), because not only did they leave off my avocado, they forgot Philip’s tomato! He doesn’t love tomato that much anyway, though, and in my opinion, tomato is not necessary on this sandwich. The pesto was good….he wouldn’t be a good judge of how basil-y or garlicky it was, because he loves basil and garlic….which I guess is why he loves pesto. The turkey, the pesto, the melted cheese, and the crunchy bread (with a little onion, but not too much, unlike in some restaurants where you get a gigantic slab) were pretty much perfect. He also had Food Should Taste Good chips (olive tortilla chips) and a 365 Cola. We came in $0.68 under budget with our gift card. Perfect!
Something you should know about Greenlife….if you go for lunch during normal lunch hours and order a sandwich, you should be prepared to wait. This is not just on Saturdays, either….there’s the after-church crowd to contend with on Sundays, and the lunch-breakers during the week. We waited for about 15 minutes for our sandwiches. Still, they have a sign posted warning that during peak times there may be a wait, and I’d rather wait a few minutes for a great sandwich than have a bad or mediocre one that I didn’t have to wait for. Besides, if you are in a hurry, you can just grab something other than a made-fresh sandwich…pizza, soup, hot bar, salad bar, or one of the many items available in their cooler (sandwiches, salads, dips, sushi, and even a Whole Foods “lunchable”-freshly assembled chunks of cheese and turkey with crackers and fruit that I can pretty much guarantee is a better nutritional deal than the real thing. I definitely recommend Greenlife for a great lunch…and a little healthy shopping after!