Rarely does quick food equal fresh, tasty, healthful food. Consider Tastebuds the perfect blend — a lunch spot that’s a brief drive from your office and that serves food fast enough to get you back for your afternoon meeting feeling filled and fulfilled.
This always-bustling, cafeteria-style spot in a brick warehouse in the Superior-St. Clair neighborhood bursts with good energy. The restaurant is sunny, with large windows illuminating the multicolored walls and black-and-white checkerboard floor. Join the line to pick what you please. The red lunch trays might make you think of grade school, but the food is anything but kiddie-quality. A well-chosen assortment of daily soups, pizzas, salads and entrées, as well as a choice of hot sandwiches and wraps, will please anyone.
The Friday BBQ chicken special ($8.95) includes a Dolly Parton-sized boneless chicken breast, super tender and moist, swimming in sweet, smoky barbecue sauce. It comes with generous scoops of garlicky mashers and corn — which the staff was more than willing to replace with a heaping helping of crisp, lemony green beans. It’s a dinner-sized portion, and eating even half of your entrée will have you satiated the rest of the afternoon.
The wraps, made fresh daily, are perfection, not suffering a bit for having been made in advance. The grilled veggie wrap ($5.95) is filled with still-crunchy, diced vegetables such as zucchini and red pepper, and a smooth, garlic-infused fresh hummus. A balsamic reduction brings a mellow sweetness to the dish.
Side dishes are available, including a heaping half-pound of fruit salad ($2.95). Save room for a slice of Mom’s chocolate birthday cake with buttercream frosting ($3), a well-deserved indulgence after a good-for-you lunch.
Tastebuds, 1400 E. 30th St., Cleveland. (216) 344-1770. Hours: Mon-Fri 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Now open for Friday night prix-fixe dinners.