When I started eating healthier about five years ago, my go-to food became salad.
My fellow diners eventually started predicting my order.
"What, are you going to get a salad?" they'd say with an eye roll.
Yes, I love salad, and I'm not lying. I never order leafy greens to deprive myself of some foods that many people deem tastier - you know, gooey cheese steaks, crispy french fries, pizza. Hey, every food has its place in life.
I like things that crunch, the consistency of vegetables, and the limitless combinations one can make with a bowl of lettuce and some toppings.
So naturally, I went to Saladworks at the York Galleria in Springettsbury Township for my latest Cheap Eats.
I had been to Saladworks in Philadelphia and Lancaster, but I had never eaten at the Galleria location, which sits between McDonald's and Subway. I don't often eat at food courts. Saladworks serves made-to-order entrée-sized salads on the go.
I ordered a mandarin chicken salad - spring mix, chicken, carrots, dried cranberries, mandarin oranges and chow mein noodles with fat-free honey mustard dressing. All salads come with a white or wheat roll, which is served warm. I chose wheat.
I picked a table facing Saladworks and watched pop music videos during my lunch - hey, Adele. Every ingredient in the salad tasted fresh. The chow mein noodles added a few crispy bites, and the combination of ingredients worked great.
Saladworks has it down. John Scardapane, then a chef at a country club, opened the first Saladworks in 1986 in Cherry Hill, N.J.The business has expanded to more than 100 franchises. Franchisees Ken and Asmita Patel opened the Galleria store in February 2007.
Tarah Freestone, the Springettsbury Township store's business coach, said the company focuses on fresh, high-quality ingredients at affordable prices.
"It's the way they've done it since day one," she said.
Freestone said she brags about the Galleria Saladworks when working with other locations. She said it's one of the cleanest, most well-run stores in the franchise.
"They don't cut any corners," she said. "York is kind of like a well-oiled machine. It just runs."
Freestone said the company recently introduced combos to the menu, which allow patrons to pair salads, focaccia fusion sandwiches and soups. Many customers asked for that option, so Saladworks obliged.
"First-time customers get to try the best of two things instead of trying one," she said.
All salads on the menu have fewer than 500 calories. There's nothing I hate more than an unhealthy salad, which, unfortunately, are sold at many restaurants. It just doesn't seem right.
After eating at Saladworks and speaking with Freestone, I started thinking of what I'll order next time I go. I'm thinking the buffalo bleu. I'm happy to add Saladworks to my list of places to go for a quick, yet healthy meal.
Cheap Eats profiles local restaurants, aiming to please our palates and our wallets. Reach Leigh Zaleski at 717-771-2101, firstname.lastname@example.org, @leighzaleski.
If you go
LOCATION: Saladworks, York Galleria food court, 2899 Whiteford Road, Springettsbury Township
CUISINE: Salads, soups, wraps and sandwiches
LEIGH'S PICK: Mandarin chicken salad and a Diet Pepsi ($9.94)
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
PRICE RANGE: $1.59 to $7.99
ACCEPTS: Cash and credit
KID'S MENU: Yes
DETAILS: Call 717-718-1993 or visit www.saladworks.com