Healthy dining-out options seem to be more prevalent in recent years, at least compared to the days when burgers, pizza and chicken joints dominated the fast-food and fast-casual spaces.
One of the latest concepts to enter that fray is Bahia Bowls, a chain of restaurants that’s concentrated in Florida but has gradually expanded its territory northward. In our region, the only location is in Maryville, so that’s where The Grub Spouse and I headed last week to check out their healthful fare.
Their bowls utilize high-quality ingredients like spinach, kale, oats, granola and a diverse arsenal of fruits such as banana, mango, kiwi and pineapple as well as the less familiar acai (the fruit of the acai palm) and pitaya, which is the fruit of several cactus species. For example, the Acai Bowl features acai fruit blended with strawberries and bananas and topped with granola, strawberries, bananas, blueberries, coconut shavings and honey.
Other bowl options include the Pitaya Bowl, Green Bowl (spinach and kale), the Summer Breeze Bowl and the Tidal Wave Bowl (made with spirulina). I ordered a medium serving of the Oatmeal Bowl ($8.35) — whole-grain oatmeal topped with granola, strawberries, banana, blueberries and honey.
More Grub Scout: Smokin’ F BBQ food truck is worth finding for its tasty fare
More Grub Scout: Delicious fish and seafood are focus at Mariscos Pacifico Nayarit
Meanwhile, Bahia Bowls also serves wraps, including the Southwestern, Sunshine Cobb, Spinach & Strawberry and Caesar. The Spouse opted instead for one of their four toast recipes, the Loaded Avocado Toast ($7.25) — a slice of toasted multigrain bread topped with avocado mash, hard-boiled egg slices, tomato, olive oil and Everything Bagel seasoning.
We also found a couple of ways to satisfy our collective sweet tooth while also enjoying the benefits of their healthful ingredients. First, Bahia Bowls offers a dozen smoothie recipes, ranging from fruity to nutty. We decided to try the Nutcase smoothie ($8.45), a blend of banana, peanut butter, Nutella and almond milk.
They also sell containers of balled-up goodness called protein bites ($5.95). Those come in five flavor combos; we got the PB & Chocolate Chip, made with whole-grain oats, peanut butter, chocolate chips, whey protein, coconut shavings and honey. Other protein bite choices include mocha, banana bread, strawberry almond and carrot cake.
The Spouse and I claimed an empty table in the dining area and waited for our order to come up. The air conditioning was cranked up a little too high for my comfort level, but at least the space was a cool refuge from the summer heat. I don’t think much more than five minutes passed before an employee announced our name, and we fetched our meal from the counter.
My regular bowl was sweetly satisfying and very filling. I was able to control the ratio of oat base to the bite-size portions of banana, strawberry and blueberry on top, but the honey binding the oatmeal and granola really added a lot in terms of flavor and sweetness. I finished off the fruit toppings and still had plenty of oatmeal left over; I took it home to finish later with my own stock of fruit ingredients.
The avocado toast was also deceptively substantial thanks to the thick slice of bread and chunky layer of avocado. The egg and tomato were savory embellishments. When it came to the sweeter end of our experience, the golf-ball-sized protein bites were satisfying and delicious, and we took turns steadily draining the smoothie from its plastic cup. The peanut butter flavor was predominant, although the subtleties of the banana and Nutella did manage to peek through.
When it was all said and done, we felt as if we’d had a full meal, but at the same time, we got to enjoy healthy doses of fresh fruits and even a few sweeter notes along the way. Based on the steady flow of patrons we saw coming and going during our visit, I’d say the Maryville location of Bahia Bowls has already found a base of customers who appreciate it for the same reasons. There are places in the Knoxville area that have a similar approach to healthy cuisine, but if you’re a Blount County resident, at least you don’t have to spend the extra gas money in order to have your bowl and eat it too.
Bahia Bowls Acai Café
Address: 429 W. Broadway Ave., Maryville
No alcohol service
Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 12 to 7 p.m. Sundays
This Maryville eatery has found the sweet spot when it comes to whipping up tasty meals and treats from antioxidant fruits and other healthy ingredients.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Bahia Bowls Acai Cafe in Maryville adds healthy dining out option