Recently the folks at Noodles and Company, a fast casual chain restaurant, contacted me about their vegan options.
Started in Denver, Colorado, they now have hundreds of locations scattered across the U.S. I’d never visited one of their restaurants before, but I’d read positive things about them online.
I took Noodles & Company up on a couple of free meals, and David and I headed to one of their locations earlier this week for dinner.
Before dinner, I visited their website, where they’ve clearly laid out nutritional information.
The current (2019) Noodles and Company vegan options are:
- Japanese pan noodles (my personal favorite)
- Tossed green side salad with balsamic vinaigrette
- Spicy zucchini peanut sauté with tofu instead of chicken
- Penne rosa without cream and cheese
- Spaghetti marinara without cheese
- Pasta fresca without cheese & cream
- Thai green curry without shrimp
- Spicy Korean beef noodles without the beef & replacing ramen with udon noodles
- Zucchini romesco without cream & cheese
- Organic tofu can be added to any dish
- Zucchini noodles can be used in any dish (instead of other noodles) for an additional charge
When we arrived, I realized I hadn’t printed out the Noodles and Company vegan options as I’d planned, but it was no worry.
I asked at the counter for their nutrition information and was handed a laminated sheet with the same information that they have online – detailing which items work for various needs.
David and I looked over our options. And one of the employees came out to see if we needed more help.
David inquired about the Bangkok curry. She looked through her sheet to see that there’s cow’s milk in the sauce and that’s why it’s not veganizable.
I opted for the Indonesian peanut sauté with tofu, and David had the pasta fresca with tofu.
The atmosphere is clean, airy, and informal. The general tone is similar to other fast casual chains like Panera, Sharky’s, or Baja Fresh.
By the drink area, they have bottles of Sriracha, and a stack of paper takeout containers.
It didn’t take too long before the food arrived at the table.
I ordered the regular size, but I could have easily done the small instead. The portions are very large.
(I took at least half home in a takeout container. That’s for the best, since I noticed later that a regular size is 830 calories and contains 2030 mg of sodium!)
I was impressed that the sauce was actually spicy. Often in chain restaurants, the dishes are made on the blander side to suit a variety of tastes. The flavor was nutty with a noted stickiness, and the tofu was crisp.
I wouldn’t say that I was blown away by the dish, but it was pretty good.
Update on the Indonesian Peanut Sauté:
The Indonesian peanut sauté was discontinued. However, spicy zucchini peanut sauté has since been added to the menu. It is a re-mixed version of the Indonesian peanut sauté with zucchini noodles and chicken.
If you’d prefer it with noodles like the classic, ask for rice noodles instead. And of course, ask for tofu instead of chicken.
Then add sriracha for your preferred heat level.
David’s pasta fresca contained penne with roasted garlic, red onion, tomatoes, spinach, and added tofu, and tossed with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and white wine.
(It generally comes with parmesan or feta, and of course, he requested no cheese.)
The dish was mild but basic. It reminded me of a well done version of the vegan meal on an international flight. I think it could be improved with sliced olives and artichoke hearts for a little pizzazz.
In summation, I liked that the employees were warm and helpful. I also liked that they’ve made it easy on their website and nutritional information to know your options.
I could see it being a place that would be easy to take kids, because of the laid back atmosphere that’s not at all stuffy.
I don’t think Noodles & Company is a place that I’ll be visiting regularly, but it’s a welcome option for a quick lunch when guests of varying tastes come into town.
Thai green curry without shrimp
Japanese pan noodles
Disclaimer: I received two free meals from Noodles & Company, but the thoughts and opinions are completely my own.