Walk into Sweetgreen on Amherst Street in Rice Village during lunch hour, and you’ll find long lines of mostly young, fit Houstonians looking to grab a quick bite before heading back to work. It's the first of what will be a slew of Texas locations (Montrose is next) to come from the Washington D.C.-based company, which started in 2007 and also has popular locations in cities like New York and Los Angeles. The quick-service eatery adds to the growing list of wellness-related brands that have invaded Houston in the past few years—locally, restaurants like Flower Child and Salata have thrived as quick-stop lunch spots.
Sweetgreen aims to source some in-season produce locally and regionally. Among the providers it boasts: Bee2Bee Honey Collective, Johnson’s Backyard Garden in Austin, and Bread Man Baking Co. Transparency seems to be a theme for Sweetgreen—customers have almost a full view into the back of the restaurant, and guests can feast their eyes on a long, horizontal shelf full of bright and colorful vegetables. Seating consists of a small amount of light-colored wooden chairs and benches, and the lighting is simple and fluorescent.
Additionally, the menu changes by region, so naturally, the Rice Village menu is currently chock-full of ingredients like avocado, shrimp, lime, and tortilla chips. Customers can choose to order hot bowls or salads from the menu, or they can build their own bowls. They also provide options for vegetarians and vegans, including nine vegan dressings and proteins like house made hummus and herb falafels.
While it has plenty of health-forward menu items, Sweetgreen has recently been in the news for the alleged health risks related to its to-go containers. Ceramic bowls are offered for dine-in customers.
Sweetgreen is part of a major change to Rice Village’s culture, which has welcomed more and more shopping and eateries that don’t hail from the Houston area. It comes after the arrival of New York native Shake Shack and the recent addition of the California-based Mendocino Farms, both of which have been embraced by local foodies.
In return, these restaurants have included the city in their menus—Shake Shack with the Texas-exclusive Lockhart Link Burger, and Mendocino with the Charity Sandwich, a special collaboration with chef Chris Shepherd offered in the first month. Sweetgreen is following suit with two Houston-specific dishes: the garlic chili shrimp salad, (Cajun shrimp with lime, apple, kale, cabbage, pecans, and wild rice), and the superfood bowl (sweet potato, buckwheat, kale, lentils, spinach, cabbage, avocado, and beet hummus).
From the menu, we suggest you try the guacamole greens salad, which includes roasted chicken, avocado, squeezed lime juice, cilantro, red onion, tortilla chips, and tomatoes. It’s fresh and light, is easy to carry out, and was a quick order. We were in and out of the restaurant in about five minutes, which, as busy Houstonians will know, is pretty quick.