I would call myself a foodie, but not in the traditional sense. I love eating out, trying new hot spots, and experimenting with new flavors — but all to a limit. At the end of the day, I am a meat and potatoes guy next door rather than a “Top Chef” five-star connoisseur. My staples tend to be dessert (first), followed by fancy frozen (high calorie, sigh) drinks, ending with appetizers. If I get to the main course then I tend to stick to comfort foods that are simple and basic. Meals heavy on the desserts, appetizers and comfort foods can, unfortunately, leave me in desperate need of extra trips to the gym. After endless eating and working out I discovered a great fix for the problem: FUEL! They give me an outlet for delicious desserts, amazing appetizers, fruity smoothies, familiar-flavored entrees, quick service, upbeat music and fun stylings — and it is all easy on my waistline and my wallet.
My first experience with FUEL came in mid-Winter. It was cold outside and I passed their menu board that boasted a low-calorie Tomato Basil soup. I stopped for a quick bowl and ended up ordering a full meal (and then some). Since this initial visit, FUEL has become my regular hot spot. The Center City location has become my go to place for inner city business meetings as well as my launching pad for a night on the town. The East Passyunk location is my neighborhood eatery where I can do writing, meet friends, invite colleagues and watch people go by.
Nearly every trip to FUEL starts (or ends) with their “under 500 calorie” desserts. My favorites include the very authentic tasting Key Lime Pie, the rich Chocolate Mousse Cake or the spicy goodness of the Pumpkin Cheesecake. Every now and then they serve up season treats, like Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts or Limencello Cake.
Another must have is Tomato Basil soup. In reality I am not a big fan of soup — but I can’t get enough of this one! Coming in at approximately 110 calories, this soup is a perfect winter (or spring) pick me up. I like getting extra croutons to soak up the tangy goodness, but you can skip them if you really need to watch every single calorie. If I am dining with friends or colleagues, I usually recommend the appetizer trio sampler. My favorites are the lemony hummus, tomato goat cheese guacamole, and the sweet pea dip. This dish is big — so plan on sharing. It comes with cucumbers, pepper strips, whole grain chips and pita chips.
In terms of main courses, I haven’t had anything I didn’t like. A lot of my friends rave about the High Protein Grilled Cheese (with mozzarella, provolone, fresh lemon cream cheese, spinach and tomato). However, I usually can’t take my eye off of the South Philly (grilled chicken, provolone, spinach, roasted red peppers, and garlic spread) or the Strawberry Spinach Salad (fresh spinach, strawberries, red onion, gorgonzola cheese, tomatoes, candied pecans in berry vinaigrette ). Every day they have a Flat Bread of the day which sometime commands my attention, or they have special paninis. A season favorite was their delicious twist on Thanksgiving with turkey and cranberries coupled with a light cheese. For drinks, their smoothies are top of the line, as are their delicious coffee beverages. They have literally dozens of drinks and endless options with regular and sugar-free syrups.
After my meal, I am full and satisfied with a meal that doesn’t send me running to the gym. You can get a soup, sandwich, side salad, coffee drink and dessert that all weighs in at under 1,000 calories — and all for under $20!
Check out FUEL at 1917 East Passyunk Ave. and at 1225 Walnut Street. You can also follow their daily specials and events on Facebook. When you go, bring my “must have” list with you:
- Chocolate Mousse Cake
- Key Lime Pie
- Tomato Basil Soup
- South Philly Sandwich
- High Protein Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Appetizer Trio
FUEL is the brainchild of Q102’s Rocco Cima. You can often spy him behind the counter or talking to regulars at the tables. Tell him I said hi!
Disclaimer: No monetary compensation or in-kind items were provided for this post.