Dinner at Whole Foods is the place to be

The 45,000-square-foot Whole Foods store that recently opened on June 3 to great fanfare in Centerville bills itself as a grocery store, but I would argue it’s every bit as much a dining destination as well.

There’s seating for 200 — both indoor and outdoor — throughout the store that offers aisles and stations of fresh salads, soups, sandwiches, pizzas, sushi and various hot dishes as well as a raw bar. If you haven’t been yet, it presents the kind of overwhelming number of tasty choices that foodies welcome.

So many delicious options … what to eat first??

Like other locations, the first Dayton Whole Foods is a one-stop shop for an immersive experience that offers an incredible selection of groceries, hot meals that can be tailored to each member in the family and, should the mood hit, craft beer and cocktails all in one stop.

Whole Foods’ philosophy is based on sourcing locally — more than 50 Ohio suppliers were found through an “open call.” Products with local connections are prominently labeled so shoppers know who they are supporting. The chain prides itself as selling the highest quality natural and organic products, including seasonal, locally sourced produce, sustainable seafood and high-quality meat and poultry free of preservatives. The same goes for the ready-made foods available for purchase to eat in the store.

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The cases and bars of food at Whole Foods are a sensory delight with tray after tray of bright beautiful veggies, fruit, meats and grains. You can grab a full dinner with two sides starting at $8 or create your own entree.

The salad bar at $8.99 a pound features delicious dishes like melon sprinkled with crisp prosciutto, kelp and kale slaw, an Asian antipasto, sesame grilled tofu, beautiful beets, a pineapple and jicama salad and roasted vegetables. Other salads like peas with pancetta and mint ($5.99/lb.), polenta herb towers ($6.99/lb.) and Grilled Ratatouille ($6.99/lb.) are available at the deli counter.

The 12 kinds of homemade soups ($3.99 for a small, $5.99 for a medium, $8.99 for a large) includes organic tomato bisque, chicken corn chowder, vegan Moroccan lentil soup, beef chili, chicken noodle soup, sweet potato kale soup, coconut curry vegetable soup and seafood gumbo.

Sandwiches for $8 at the deli include a savory mushroom melt, short rib pastrami, tangy dilled turkey and a chicken BLT.

Hot menu entrees like roasted chicken thighs marinated in orange, lime and lemon juice, honey, ancho chili powder, sea salt, paprika and cumin, Carolina barbecue pulled pork or brined smoked chicken are generously portioned for the price. They can be paired with sides like collard greens, green chili grits, fried rice and wonderful spinach feta latkes made with potatoes, onion, egg, matzoh meal, salt, parsley, chives, spinach, feta cheese and bell pepper to create a complete meal ready to eat there or take home.

Other options include “dollar drumsticks” for $1 each or complete meals like an $8 fried chicken meal that includes 2 sides; a $12 blackened salmon or sesame orange salmon entree that includes 2 sides and an $8 seitan and snow pea dish that includes two sides.

The Whole Foods bar — 2 Wrights — sells beer, wine or cocktails that can be enjoyed while shopping or while dining. The store also features 13 draft beer taps including a growler fill-up station highlighting local beers.

Signature cocktails like a strawberry rhubarb smash ($8) and craft house cocktails ($6) including a Moscow mule and a paloma made with tequila, grapefruit and lime are well made and perfect for summer.

There are small plates available to order at the bar including roasted tri-color carrots ($6), carmelized brussel sprouts ($6), ricotta meatballs ($8), a “taco pot” with vegan chorizo, beans, salsa and avocado ($8) and Gochujang chicken wings with kimchee, cilantro and peanuts ($8).

Grocery shopping becomes a much more relaxing exercise when you know you can sit down to a nice meal after work and fuel up for a curated shopping experience filed with at least one surprise around every corner.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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