NEIGHBORHOOD NOSH

Date

Mar 11, 2013

The long-standing challenge of finding a quick meal without mainlining grease into the arteries still persists. Thankfully, this national chain takes a shot with its unstinting salads, wholesome wraps and radiant smoothies.

The food won't have you jumping out of your Birkenstocks. But the concept and execution are solid enough for a satisfying and speedy dine that doesn't put the squeeze on the wallet or waistline.

THAT'S A WRAP

The walls snap in happy strokes like greens and yellows. Customers make their way to the far end of the counter to place an order. (Flash your gym membership and get a 10 percent discount.) In zippy fashion, the kitchen team prepares the food and calls your name when ready.

Froots keeps its main food focus on meaty wraps with a handful of vegetarian options. The staff rolls each sandwich in a white or whole wheat flour tortilla, then lightly toasts the outside.

Wraps arrive on white, triangular, plastic plates, which have a midcentury modern aesthetic. The California Turkey (a bundle of sliced turkey breast, bacon, Jack cheese and veggies) even gets a bit of presentation with squiggly squirts of ranch dressing across the plate. None of the ingredients overcompensate, not even the bacon, as the flavor spreads evenly across the wrap. Bright white wads of chicken peer out from the Caesar Fever, basically a roll-up version of a Caesar salad. Froots doesn't spare a touch, right down to the slightly softened croutons. A piquant punch highlights the Southwest wrap. A conservative amount of mesquite-flavored chicken bunks with black beans, corn, onion, tomato, Jack cheese and Romaine lettuce. But it's the jalapeño slices and habanero mayo that spike each bite.

Froots serves a small list of breakfast wraps all day, including the Early Veggies. Scrambled eggs and tofu permeate this vegetarian comfort roll. Roasted red peppers and tomato bring a bit of bright color and dabs of flavor. Muenster cheese, onions, alfalfa sprouts and balsamic dressing each do their part.

GOING GREEN

The real bulk for the buck comes in Froots' whopping salad bowls. And the build-your-own option allows you to add as many of the near-limitless ingredients as you desire. Salad dressing thoughtfully comes on the side, so each customer can douse at their discretion.

Surprisingly, both of the chicken portions found in the Santa Fe and Chinese Chicken salads are purposely cold. Of the two, we praise the latter with its crunch of fried noodles and the hint of sweet found in bits of pineapple.

SMOOTHIE OPERATION

Things get even sweeter with smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices and shakes. Don't miss the blueberry and raspberry bliss of the Berry Bopper. The fat-free vanilla yogurt base flows together with strawberry-kiwi juice. The orange-colored mass that's the Aloha Sunrise (mangos, peaches, pineapple juice, orange sherbet) soothes with subtle tang. A list of Performance smoothies use fitness powders like fat burner and protein. Red Bull smoothies meld the energy drink with a variety of fruits and juices. Fitness buffs can simply grab a cup of fresh juice (orange, carrot, grapefruit or a combination) or a shot of wheatgrass or green tea.

As we walk away from lunch, the normal groggy, fast food aftershock is nowhere to be found. Froots replaces it with energetic satisfaction.

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