Everytable offers a different approach to fast food
A salmon superfood salad with arugula, broccoli, quinoa, carrots, lentils and pumpkin seeds
We may be living in uncertain times, but I would still call it a fair assumption, in 2022 any meal priced under ten dollars will be served on a tortilla or a bun. So how come I’m in Chula Vista, buying a salmon superfood salad for $9.45? And how does it make sense, with gas prices being what they are, that it’s somehow affordable because the meal is made in LA?
Welcome to the business model behind All Tables. Kind of a cross between a ghost kitchen and the take-out section of a supermarket, Everytable specializes in individually wrapped pre-prepared meals. Some are salads, some are wraps, some require a few minutes in the microwave. What they have in common is that they are made in the same kitchen in Los Angeles, then delivered every morning to customers all over Southern California. One way or another.
A small shop with coolers offering affordable prepared meals
The company has been doing its work in Los Angeles since 2016, but I started getting emails from Everytable publicists last summer, letting me know that its weekly subscription service had expanded to San Diego. The brand pushes the idea of providing nutritious, local meals at affordable prices – which sounds good on paper. But many such subscription models have pushed ads into my social media feed over the years, and I’ve mostly ignored them. Pre-ordering a week of pre-prepared meals on my doorstep is too much like planning ahead to be lazy.
However, what has changed recently is that Everytable has extended the other side of its business model to San Diego: take-out storefronts. In addition to this new South Bay store (510 Broadway #6, Chula Vista), the company launched a location in North County (620 Hacienda Drive, Vista). Rather than planning ahead, these stores provide a place where you can just show up, grab what’s right for you, and get on your way.
One way this model improves on supermarket take-out items is that all meals are delivered fresh every day. Indeed, the food is prepared in Los Angeles until the early hours of the morning, then trucked to the storefronts at opening time at 11 a.m.
A packaged meal of Creole chicken, sausage, sweet potatoes and kale
These also seem to be higher quality meals. I can’t guarantee any claims of local sourcing, but my superfood salad included about a three-ounce serving of roasted salmon, along with roasted sweet potatoes, pickled cabbage, broccoli, carrots, arugula, lentils and pumpkin seeds, served on a bed of quinoa, with an orange-ginger vinaigrette.
Since these meals are most comparable in price to fast food, there’s a clear nutritional benefit to hitting Everytable instead of drive-thru. Rather than fried potatoes, most of these meals pair their protein with colorful, soil-less vegetables. And my salad is among the most expensive items; typical meal prices at both locations are $8.55.
Hawaiian Braised Pork with Rice, Red Peppers, Plantains and Pineapple Salsa
I would call the dishes well rounded, but not quite forgiving. Most seem to weigh around three-quarters of a pound – big eaters will want to add side dishes or a second entrée. Some dishes are rather conventional, like a chicken pesto rotini, teriyaki chicken, and carnita tacos. Others are more playful and unique, whether it’s an “egg roll in a bowl” (chicken, mushrooms, cabbage, carrots and wonton strips over rice) or a “Creole chicken grain bowl” (with roasted sweet potatoes, andouille sausage, kidney beans, kale, sweet potatoes and gravy).
Meals are kept in coolers in the store, but they reheat easily and even come packaged in microwave-safe containers. Although these are recyclable, they are the downside of Everytable’s model. These LA meals are nutritious, affordable, and tasty, but they’re not exactly eco-friendly. In 2022, we can’t have it all.
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