This small chain of restaurants originated in Utah, where they have five other locations (all in the Ogden area). They recently opened a new location in Gilbert, Arizona, a part of the valley that had slimmer pickings for people who want a casual environment, fast service, and something far healthier and more upscale than a fast food joint. They wanted a place people could go to on their lunch hour, when they’re out running errands, for a girls’ lunch or dinner outing, and where couples and families could affordably enjoy a night or two (or more) off from cooking each week. They wanted to slowly make a dent in the way the surrounding community eats.
Blue Lemon’s founder and his employees aim to meet a broad range of people with varying tastes, preferences, and eating styles. Consider it a quiet revolution that starts within and radiates out. They advertise “pure clean food with a twist.” It’s a bridge between healthy and fast food and between sit down and take out. Whether you follow a paleo, primal, whole foods, real foods, fresh foods, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, high, moderate-, or low-carb, vegetarian, vegan, or omnivorous way of eating, you’ll find things to order.
I met a couple of friends there for lunch a few weeks ago. They’ve each eaten there at least a dozen times––with each other, with other friends, and with their spouses and children (Blue Lemon has a special kids menu). You order at the counter and they bring the food to your table.
The food is fresh, lightly seasoned, and you can mix and match entrees and sides, or special order, if you follow a particular diet. The staff is friendly and the place has an open airy feel to it banked by a wall of windows facing the Arizona sun.
Blue Lemon restaurants have protocols in place to alert the kitchen when orders come in for people with food allergies or intolerances (celiac disease, nut allergy, etc). When someone orders a dish that requires special attention, they push a button that rings in the kitchen, to alert the chefs and other workers to change their gloves and follow other procedures to ensure a safe dining experience. I special ordered (not for an allergy but for a special dietary protocol I’ve been following) without any problems.
I ordered a modification of the Grilled Steak and Roasted Heirloom Potato Salad with Salmon instead of beef (I planned to have beef at home that night), and with asparagus instead of roasted potatoes. I had them leave out the cheese and bring me lemon juice with a generous amount of olive oil to replace the balsamic vinaigrette that normally comes with the salad I ordered.
Heather and Tiffani each ordered the Blackened Salmon Salad ($12.50)––salmon fillet blackened with a house-made seasoning blend and served over spring greens, red onions, seasonal vegetables (lightly cooked asparagus was on the menu that day), carrots, pepperoncini, with orange vinaigrette. They and their husbands have tried the Artichoke and Tomato Chicken ($12), the Seared Ahi Tuna ($13), Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs ($9), The Black Bean Ravioli ($10), Grilled Steak and Roasted Heirloom Potato Salad ($10), Grilled Balsamic Chicken Panini ($8), among other dishes. Their Raspberry Chicken Salad sounds delicious ($8).
They have starters (soups, salads, and dips with flatbreads and/or sliced raw veggies), bread, sandwiches, side salads, sweet potato fries, grilled potatoes, wild rice with vegetables, cooked vegetable sides, local draft beer, premium wine, and soda fountain drinks for more conventional eaters, and their signature desserts for anyone who eats or dines with people who eat grains or grains and sugar.
Their breakfast menu that includes some grain-free options for people into paleo, primal, or other grain-free approaches to eating (several different omelets with vegetables inside or on the side, fresh fruit, and Eggs Florentine, which you could order without the bread or tortilla wrap). The menu includes a blue “V” to set off vegetarian items.
Fancy food it’s not. Although they do a fine job of using a rainbow of colors and artistically plating their fresh food offerings while creating a family-friendly dining experience. If you cook a lot, use a lot of herbs and spices, unusual ingredients, and fancy or time-consuming preparations, you won’t find anything on the vanguard of the culinary world here. But, if you simply want a good meal out with friends or family and you want fast service, reasonable prices, and fresh ingredients, it’s worth checking out. It’s a place you can go to for a quick in and out lunch or for dinner if you live or work in the East Valley (Gilbert, AZ) or want to spend some time with friends who do.
You’ll find five other Blue Lemon restaurants in Salt Lake, Highland, Cottonwood Heights, and Sandy Utah. You can visit them online on their website, FB page, twitter, or Instagram. You can read more about them and see more food pictures on their site.
Location and hours of operation
The Blue Lemon in Gilbert is located near the intersection of Baseline and S. Greenfield
At 4341 E Baseline Road, Suite 108, Gilbert, AZ 85234. They’re open Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 9 pm, Friday 8 am to 10 pm, and Sunday from 8 am to 8 pm. Ph: 480-507-2583
Thanks, Tiffani and Heather, for a fun girls lunch out! Let’s do it again this fall, maybe after a hike in your end of town.