With a name like Kale Me Crazy, you better believe this review is going to take full advantage of being punny.
In all seriousness though, anyone who feels Wilmington is lacking in the “healthy food” department,” welp, say hello to your new jam! I can count on one hand the number of establishments that specialize entirely in supporting a healthy lifestyle. While we do house a few that dabble in vegan and vegetarian cuisine, business model strictly centered around nourishing the body from the inside out are few and far between.
The best part about Kale Me Crazy? The super food café is so much more than a quick juice joint. It’s a one-stop shop for all things nutritious lunch. Smoothie and salads and wraps … oh my! The industrial space is exactly what I imagined a health-food haven to be: clean, sleek, simple. The balanced menu is surprisingly expansive with everything from bountiful acai bowls, bobbing with dates and coconut milk, to smoked salmon toast with goat cheese. Though the quick-service franchise is a chain, KMC boasts an on-site, from-scratch kitchen.
Say it with me: Kale, yeah!
After placing a hefty order, the cashier handed me my Revive Juice in a bottle. I was expecting the fresh juice squeezed in front of me. When I asked the friendly associate where it was made, she pointed to the kitchen and assured me it was recently prepared. Although there is something novel about seeing colorful contents of juice wedged and whizzed through a blender, preparing and bottling ahead-of-time provides a far more efficient service model. The vibrant liquid—sweet from pineapple, zippy from ginger, earthy from kale, and fresh from cucumber—tasted like it was, in fact, cold-pressed a few hours before. No complaints!
It was nearly one 100 degrees that day, so the Tropical Trippin’ Smoothie was just begging to be blended. It was easily my favorite mouthful of the entire KMC experience—and the item I’ll be returning for again. The cashier thoughtfully asked to split the smoothie into two cups for me and my lunch date, and even sprinkled shredded coconut onto our half portions. The tropical yellow liquid was a Wrightsville Beach day in a cup: coconut yogurt, coconut milk, sweet mango, sugary pineapple, and fresh orange (the latter of which I was told was squeezed in-house). Not only do the massive buckets of citrus show customers the juice is coming straight from the source, but the cashier told me there wasn’t an ounce of sugar in the back of the house, either. #Winning.
Obviously, we didn’t go wrong with juices and smoothies. But how did the food stack up? Let’s talk toast.
We started with the “single” avocado toast (which was one square slice cut in two). The base was Ezekiel Bread—an easily-digested sprouted whole-grain loaf loaded with organic millet, lentils and barley. The nutty toast was just sturdy enough to handle the chilled, lightly salted avocado spread, tangy Dijon mustard, and thinly sliced hard-boiled eggs topped with oniony scallions. It was simple, refreshing, and a heavenly textural combo of creamy and crunchy. It was the type of avocado toast that made me wonder why I don’t make avocado toast more often.
I was tempted by the tuna wrap (welcome to my life), but was slightly turned off at the words “non-dairy mayo.” The cashier was confident I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, but I didn’t want to risk the disappointment. If KMC was an entirely vegan establishment, I would understand them exclusively opting for non-dairy spreads, but with cheese on a few other items, it’s not as if there’s no dairy in sight. Preparing the tuna both ways would have been ideal (as having only one option steered me away), but I understand the ease of making one mix and calling it a day.
And so I went with my backup plan: chicken pesto wrap. The pesto was fresh and herby and the sun-dried tomatoes gave each bite a tart chew. However, I wasn’t so happy with the meat.
The words “organic chicken” are always a people-pleaser, but the meat tasted like a familiar sliced deli product I’m unfortunately not a fan of. While the brand is certainly reputable and a solid choice, I’ve always found it fairly bland. Everything else in the wrap was satisfying—generous handfuls of tender butter lettuce, melted mozzarella and crunchy cucumbers. Thick slices of grilled chicken would have sealed the deal.
A sucker for salmon, my date went for the smoked salmon salad. One thing I definitely took notice of with both of our lunch options was KMC didn’t skimp on the nutrient-rich ingredients. They didn’t hold back on toppings or hide things in a mixture of bagged lettuce. Fresh, hand-picked greens in particular seemed to be a common thread throughout nearly every dish. The salad was garnished with sliced hard-boiled eggs, crunchy radishes, tart pickled red onions, and a tangy mustard dill vinaigrette. The grassy, herbaceous dill, salty salmon, and crunchy pumpernickel croutons were a thoughtful medley. It was gone pretty quickly.
We left feeling revitalized—not like we needed to curl up in a cheeseburger coma and nap off a basket of onion rings. I dig food on every end of the spectrum, but when I want my insides to thank me, I’ll be tropical trippin’ at KMC.