Grub Scout: Tropical Smoothie Cafe blends healthy foods, cool drinks

Tropical Smoothie Cafe

  • Food: * * * 1/2
  • Service: * * *
  • Atmosphere: * * *
  • Overall: * * * 1/2
  • Address: 8008 Kingston Pike
  • Phone: 865-690-5505
  • Hours: 7 a.m-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays
  • Seating: First come, first served
  • No alcohol served

Hey, what better way to officially welcome autumn’s chill than with a nice, cold smoothie, eh? And considering that I’m not a huge fan of smoothes to begin with, you might begin to understand why I wasn’t necessarily all gung-ho about checking out Tropical Smoothie Cafe on Kingston Pike. However, unlike Smoothie King, Tropical Smoothie Cafe has a substantial food menu, which seemed interesting enough to me to investigate.

On the night I arrived with The Grub Spouse and The Grub Sprout, there were no other customers to contend with. Evidently, that whole cold smoothie on a cool night philosophy was more widespread than I had thought. That gave us plenty of time to absorb the fare, which consists mainly of toasted wraps ($6.29), bistro sandwiches ($6.79), grilled flatbreads ($3.99) and gourmet salads ($6.49).

The greens-based salads include toppings like chicken Caesar, sesame and Thai chicken, southwest chicken and cranberry walnut chicken salad. However, we passed on the salads altogether and opted to claim one item from each of the other three types of menu offerings.

I decided to look at the wraps, which feature Buffalo chicken, cordon bleu, and some of the fillings previously mentioned in the salads, such as Thai chicken, Caesar and southwest chicken. The Buffalo chicken was tempting but I diverted myself toward Popeye’s Favorite — a mixture of chicken, creamy spinach and artichoke spread, low-fat mozzarella and tomatoes wrapped in a white flour tortilla.

The Spouse got the cranberry walnut chicken salad from the bistro sandwich selections, passing over some interesting candidates like turkey guacamole, wasabi roast beef and hummus veggie. Both The Spouse’s and my selection include a choice of chips or fruit. I got the former, and The Spouse chose the latter.

The Sprout looked over flatbread creations like Baja chicken, peanut butter banana crunch and chicken pesto before settling on the Caribbean Luau, consisting of chicken, low-fat mozzarella, pineapple, romaine lettuce and Jamaican jerk sauce on grilled flatbread.

For good measure, we decided to share a smoothie, which was easy to do since they’re 24-ounce servings. We got one of the low-fat smoothies, the Blue Lagoon, which blends blueberries, strawberries and banana. It actually was quite tasty and refreshing.

Overall, there are more than a dozen low-fat smoothies as well as supercharged smoothies, super fruit smoothies, coffee-based smoothies, more indulgent smoothies and smoothies for kids. Most are in the $4 range, but discounts are available with food combos.

I thought the food was a decent effort on their part. I had no complaints about the spinach-and-artichoke-filled Popeye’s wrap, while The Spouse’s cranberry walnut chicken salad was an enjoyable sandwich selection. The Spouse’s flatbread was bursting with spicy jerk sauce flavor and was by far the boldest of our orders.

The portion-to-pricing ratio wasn’t terribly impressive, but that issue gets smoothed over by the fact this place has lots of healthy alternatives for folks in search of a fast meal on the run — even when it’s not smoothie weather.

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