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Take a salad safari 

A new eatery offers fresh fare at an affordable price to the Five Cities & beyond

The name Salad Safari conjures something more than a typical salad bar—and that conjure is correct.

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# From low-carb lovers to sandwich and smoothie fanatics, Salad Safari in Grover Beach has something for everyone. With the safari- and jungle-themed decor (and a New Times stand at the door), owners Maryruth and Billy Mitchell—and their daughter Andrea Nickell—wanted to bring relief to taste buds on the Central Coast and provide an environment where everyone would feel welcome while replenishing their minds and bodies.

They based their idea on the fact that they loved salad bars, but didn’t like the filthy sneeze guards or limited options. Eleven months ago, they developed a bountiful menu that included the freshest ingredients (produce from the beloved Hayashi Farm and breads and soups made fresh daily), sprinkled with a lot of love. In fact, family is so important to the Mitchells, their grandson’s moniker is on the kids’ menu: Noah’s Nibblers.

When ordering a "Salad Creation," diners first decide whether they want a half or whole salad ($5.50/$6.95). Second, they get a choice of lettuces: iceberg, romaine, spring mix, spinach, or mix all four. Next is a choice of six toppings, ranging from garbanzo beans to pastrami. All told, there are about 40 options. Finally, they pick a dressing—tossed in or on the side. The salads are refreshing, delicious, and hearty.

The restaurant also offers pre-made salad combinations, such as "Gazelle Greens," crafted with crisp iceberg, spinach, mixed greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, zucchini, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, mushrooms, tofu, sunflower seeds, and choice of dressing.

The "Zesty Zebra" is a sandwich made from unprocessed turkey, cream cheese, jalapeno peppers, and tomato on a soft and filling roll. Other bread choices are multi-grain, sourdough, rosemary, rye, or a French demi baguette. Soups run the gamut as well—Maryruth makes everything from chicken soup to sweet-potato bisque fresh.

Desserts may not be on the menu, but if you pre-order fresh-baked cookies, the treats will be waiting for you after your meal, piping hot and straight from the oven, so plan ahead! Salad Safari also offers the frozen sherbets and yogurts used in their smoothies. Ah yes, the smoothies. The employee favorite is the "Elegant Elephant": milk, peanut butter, banana, frozen yogurt, and a glyconutrient called Sugars That Heal.

A recent patron dubbed the "Blue Baboon" smoothie "unbelievable," and her friend chimed in as well: "Although I don’t normally eat smoothies, I had a straw-full and she was right. It was fruity, tangy, and not too sweet." The smoothie in question is a fusion of apple juice, blueberries, blackberries, and sherbet.

A final note for anyone attempting the near-impossible by trying to lose weight and keep it off: Salad Safari’s menu offers Weight Watchers Points next to each item—though not the smoothies. You might be in the "jungle," but why not take a moment and treat your body right?

All these fresh choices are located at

1514 West Grand Ave., in the shopping center on the south side of Grand near Taco Bell and McDonalds. Salad Safari is open every day except for Sunday. Info: 473-9991 or

Christy Heron compiled this week’s Strokes and Plugs—and now she’s hungry. Send your business news to

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