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Dear New York City, can I move in with you?

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Is that taking things too fast?

Math lesson: NYC Whole Foods hot bar > Dallas’ Whole Foods hot bar. From grain salads to mock meats to soups, there was so much on offer. How to choose?! Finally, I managed to put together a cute little lunch:


Curried cauliflower, pico de gallo (and some raw tomatoes), steamed chard and kale, and channa masala (Also pictured was a dressing I ended up not needing.)

After eating lunch, we walked around Times Square.


Apparently, someone did NOT hug a fruit on the ground behind me. What a waste of a perfectly-good fruit cup!


We also picked up our tickets to see Jersey Boys later that night.

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. We don’t have Whole Food here in Canada, but everytime I go to Ontario for work, they have a grocery store chain called “Longo’s” where the hot/cold bar is to die for.

    I always end up taking a little bit of everything, which comes to a huuuuuuge amount …. Thank you expense account! hehehe

    I wish I had a hot bar in my house. Filled by elves.

  2. Ilana says:

    You know I’ve only had the WF hot bar twice? And the second time I got all cold food so it doesn’t count 😉 Whole Foods is like an orgy of food to me and to visit there during lunch hour is like seeing all the animals on the savanna coming to the watering hole at once. It’s so amusing – and it’s equally amusing that so many local professionals choose to waste their lunch hour standing on line at Whole Foods to pay for the hot bar. I really want to see Jersey Boys! Can’t wait to hear what you thought of it!

  3. sagojyou says:

    I’ve eaten at a WFs hot bar, but it is so expensive! (only done it once for that reason!) But it’s totally worth it. 😉 And I think it’s okay if you sampled a little bit; you were…ah…trying to see if it’s worth the money to buy a lot of the samples or not! Right! 😀

  4. Sarahishealthy says:

    I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who sneaks tastes! I mean, come on, WF is expensive. There’s no way I’m spending $8 on lunch only to discover I don’t even like what I got!

  5. I’ve never eaten at a Whole Foods. Your lunch sounds lovely though! :)

  6. Meg says:

    Going to WF hot bar today, actually. When I was in San Fran I spent about half my paycheck there 😉

    You can certainly move to NYC – that way you’ll be closer to me 😀

  7. Leslie says:

    Oh I am so jealous! I love the Four Seasons. Hope you liked the show! :)

  8. Daniel says:

    I’ve never had the WF hot bar – we live about 2 hours from the nearest WF and usually we just finish eating before we arrive to do our shopping before heading back home. Maybe next time I’ll suggest WF for dinner. 😛

    And no, we never leave on time either. I think it’s just one of those things that takes a miracle to be on time with.

  9. abby says:

    i love nyc! and their whole foods too! wish i could have met up with you there. i’m sorry i canceled on you. ugh ugh! next time, we must meet up!

  10. Valerie says:

    Haha Katie, I had to laugh when you talked about your parents’ inability to leave on time. As a mom with young kids, I can tell you that we NEVER leave on time for vacations, school, etc. We’re constantly running late!

  11. Thank you so much for the shout-out, Katie! :) I’m headed to NYC in a few days, so I’ll try to hardest to visit the Whole Foods.

  12. Ohmygosh I LOVE whole foods’ buffet bar. I totally wish it could be all you can eat, because I want to try everything! Oh well, I just have to be satisfied with little bits at a time. But I have to agree that it is WAAAAy too expensive! I love how they list all the ingredients, though=super easy to know if your diet can eat it or not. It’s always a good day for me when I get to eat at whole foods for lunch!

    The two favorites I always get are the pesto tofu and orange-ginger beets.

  13. I rarely eat off the Whole Foods hot bar (maybe twice … and one time was at the WF in Nashville, not Memphis). I’d like to eat there more often, but WF is about 20 minutes away from my house and I really only go there for grocery shopping … which I generally always do after I’ve already eaten dinner. One day, I outta skip dinner and dine on the hot foods bar first. They do have those AMAZING soy mock nuggets!

  14. Tanya says:

    Bet you haven’t been to the TINIEST WF….it’s on the Upper West Side. But if you happen to find yourself on the upper west side, Mana is an awesome place to eat! ( Their kale/walnut salad is amazing, and so is their tempeh teriyaki. Have fun in NYC!! Wish I got to go this summer, sniff…..

  15. Tanya,
    Thanks so much for the link; I don’t think I’d heard of that restaurant before. I’m off to check it out now!
    And I actually HAVE been to the tiniest WF… well, it was the tiniest one at the time: in Wynnewood, PA. Hehe and then, that same year, I went to the biggest one in Austin :).

  16. *Andrea* says:

    i love WF salad/hot bars! and i always sneak bites of tofu or veggies before putting them in my cardboard box lol

  17. Run Sarah says:

    I have only had Whole Foods hot bar once, my husband brought it for me as a treat when I was on call! It was delicious, but it is SO expensive! Is that a Vera Bradley bag? If so, I think it’s the same pattern as my lunch bag 😉

    1. Run Sarah,
      Yes!! It’s Vera Bradley! :)

  18. Ive never been to a raw foods bar but everytime someone writes about them I get so jealous! Everything looks great!

  19. Kiersten says:

    We never leave on time for trips/vacations. I don’t like to place the blame on anyone, but someone *coughmyboyfriendcough* always waits until the last minute to get things together and we always end up leaving really late. It drives me crazy! lol

    I wish we had a Whole Foods around here. I’d love to go to their salad bar when I want a quick dinner and don’t feel like cooking.

  20. Gloria says:

    The WF hot bar is my go-to lunch spot when I go out with my coworkers. It has an option for everyone’s dietary preference! And I get to share fun vegan treats with the new guys. Mmmm.. I’m craving some pesto tofu right now! Is it lunch time yet?? 😉

    1. Gloria,
      It’s always lunchtime… somewhere 😉 😉

  21. hahaha the oranges on the ground. omg i didnt even notice it til u pointed it out, i was too busy looking at the gorgeous girl in a cute skirt.. YOU hehe <3

    im pretty sure New York loves you back. how fabulous would it be to live there at least for a little bit!


  22. Kristen says:

    Hi Katie!

    Just wanted to let you and readers know that WF will let you sample whatever you want on the hot bars – they are actually pretty good about letting you taste as many items as you want… they just want you to ask and let them put it in a sample cup. For health and cross contamination purposes.

    Once I was actally shopping for crackers (or something like that) and I was looking at a brand that I hadn’t tried. There was an employee on the isle and I asked him if he’d tired them. He said he hadn’t but popped open the box for me to taste them right there on the row. I appreciated that.

    Enjoy your trip!

    1. Kristin,
      Woah, thank you so much for telling me! I always feel badly about taking tastes, and I usually end up passing over a lot of things because I don’t want to take advantage/get in trouble.

  23. I love WF’s salad and hot bars!!!! Seriously, you have to taste a little of what you plan to eat because with the price you pay you cant chance not liking your selection!!

  24. Danielle says:

    I loveee the WF hot bar! I don’t live near a WF so when I encounter one, I def. stock up 😀

    Can’t wait to read about the rest of your trip!

  25. Melissa says:

    Heh, I’M a WFM team member, Katie! And yeah, we dislike it when folks do that.
    Honestly, ask the PFDS staff for a taste! They’ll totally hook you up. 😉 And then you don’t look like a thief and we don’t have the possible sanitation issues.

    Yes, I’m a stickler. I know YOU aren’t a thief or a jerk but we get a A TON of both types. Some folks heap a plate and then eat as they “shop” leaving the empty plate hidden in a display and then exiting the store. Grrrrr. Bad people ruin it for everyone, IMO. >:(

    1. Melissa,
      Ack I *knew* someone from WF would read this!
      But you can rest assured that, after reading yours and Kristin’s comments, I’ll ask permission from now on! :)

  26. Justine says:

    I have only ever experienced the hot bar at WF once so far, but that will all change when they finish building our store. :)

    I agree with you about the sampling thing-they probably just say that because otherwise so many people would take advantage of it.

    I hope you’re enjoying NYC!

  27. Amy says:

    I love the Whole Foods hot bars in Chicago! When I can’t decide where to go to eat I always suggest it.

    What’s even more fun about it is that before heading straight to the hot bars to eat, you can take the long route around the store and pick samples of foods along the way — a free appetizer!

  28. glad you’re enjoying nyc!! i’ve always wanted to go to a whole foods. STILL have not had the chance :( you’re right about the taste testing, though! :) xo.

  29. Caroline says:

    Mmm I’m obsessed with WF. Too bad my poor jobless student wallet can’t keep up with that or Maranatha almond butter. Everything you got there looks delicious, esp. the chana masala and roated cauli. Question for you: how do you keep the price of WF meals down? I can easily spend $20 on a salad there with all the great roasted veggies.

    1. Caroline,
      Ummmmmm…. I guess I just tell myself that I’m on vacation and I don’t do this every day :-?. I try not to think of the price! You pay for convenience. Normally, I don’t do that; I will even buy a head of cauliflower or cabbage or broccoli instead of the pre-cut veggies because it’s cheaper, and I love clipping coupons. But sometimes I just gotta splurge!

  30. Penny Lane says:

    I love Whole foods Hot Bars, actually I love everything in Whole Foods! Though what you got looks way better than what is generally left over when I finally get around to lunch.

  31. zoe says:

    i’m delurking for the first time!

    whole foods hot bar = my overpriced heaven. LOVE IT. my wallet however, does not. and no worries, i totally sneak little bites of things, too 😉

    HAVE FUN AT JERSEY BOYS!!!! could i be any more excited right there? i don’t think so haha :) it was probably my favorite show ever! it’s so much fun and singing along (aka pretending you can hit all those high notes too) is super fun! enjoy it!!!

    1. Zoe,
      So excited that you de-lurked to say hi. I love “meeting” new people! And my favorite part of JB was getting to sing along too!!

  32. mapledreams says:

    Looking forward to hearing about Jersey Boys! I’m a HUGE musical theatre lover:)
    I’ve never eaten at WF before, hwoever i would LOVE too! xx

  33. Katie says:

    I LOVE nyc :) I am an L.A. girl to the core, but NY will always have a special place in my heart. I would move there if I booked a gig….but would always come back to socal :)

    P.S. What night did you see Jersey Boys? My dear dear friend Taylor is an understudy and goes on ALL the time….mostly for Hank, Joe Peschi (spelling?), and Frankie Valli….if anything, wish I lived in ny so i could support my talented friends who have switched coasts :(

    1. Katie,
      I’m emailing you!

  34. Marianne says:

    There’s a big Whole Foods on my bus route home from school. Every once in awhile I stop in for a treat, and have the hot bar for lunch. Lots of great stuff in there :) But I always end up dropping $12 – $15 dollars. Ouch!

  35. Stefanie says:

    Your WF meal has me craving some of their roated veggies and stuffed grape leaves. I live about 10 mins. from one (depending on traffic) but try not to go more then once a week. $10+ on one meal is crazy to do more then once a week.

    Their soups are not the best though. I have not had one that was outstanding. The last one I got was flavorless. Maybe it is because they aren’t “fresh” and have been sitting for a little time.

    Have a great day. :)

    1. Stefanie,
      I agree! Their soups could totally use some salt! (But then again, I’m a salt addict lol. I probably would think that PLAIN salt could use more salt ;).)

  36. I love NYC!! It’s my favorite hands down :) I tried eating at the hot bar once and the bill came to over $20! I was so shocked and got that “rock in my stomach” feeling that I had to tell the clerk I couldn’t bring myself to pay that much for it. He understood and took the food- who knows..maybe he got to eat it! Either way I felt really bad about it but haven’t attempted to go back since cause I just know it’d happen again. My eyes are much too big for my wallet! Especially with all those choices- I don’t know how you managed!

    1. Mary,
      How did I manage? Barely!! It was so hard to pick just a few things. But I finally had to convince myself to leave other things because they didn’t “fit” with the theme of the meal lol. For example, as good as carrot-ginger soup sounded, it just would’ve been over the top! But sometimes I’d rather NOT have so many decisions!

  37. Julie says:

    Hi Katie,
    I would love to win a Magic Bullet. But there is just one problem. I don’t like oatmeal! Help!!!

  38. BroccoliHut says:

    Lovely hot bar creation! I’m quite infatuated with WF’s BBQ seitan these days.

  39. Julie,
    Aw, of course you can still enter! Make ANY chocolate-covered recipe and I’ll enter you :).

  40. Rachael says:

    I never was the biggest fan of the Whole Food hot bar, but there’s an indie natural foods store, pretty big, a couple of blocks up from NYU near the Village – I remember it being consistently good, and an independent business to boot!
    Have you checked out PB & Company on 4th St. yet?
    Enjoy your trip – New York can certainly be addicting!

    1. Rachael,
      We visited last year… I love their wall of peanut butters! And the cute little monkeys too :) :).

  41. Molly says:

    There are absolutely NO whole foods within 3 hours of my home so I am out of luck :( I do visit a natural foods store that is 30 minutes away that has a natural cafe and hot bar but it cannot be anything compared to WFS!

  42. Bekah says:

    Love the NYC Whole Foods! I remember one of my first day trips from school to the city and I got lunch from Whole Foods hot bar that was the best. One of my friends used to live in the city during an internship at a restaurant, and she said she was so broke that she would eat some of the food out of her container as she stood in line so it would weigh less. haha whatever works, i guess? 😉

    My goal in the next year is to visit each whole foods in the city. all of them are so beautiful!

    1. Bekah,
      I commiserate with your friend! I’ve actually cut off the top part of the plastic bag when buying nuts to make it weigh less!

  43. Jessica says:

    Looks like you’re having fun in NYC! I’ve never actually eaten at the Whole Foods hot bar – maybe I’ll have to give it a try some time!

  44. jersey boys is awesome!!!!!!!!so funny and great music! absolute love! you will enjoy it so much. :)

  45. Faith says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the WF hot bar. The dolma are amazing and I have a hard time finding ones that aren’t stuffed with lamb – it’s s exciting to see a rice-only one!

    Enjoy NYC! It stole my heart last month and I seriously cant wait to go back!

  46. Oh my, your lunch looks delicious! YUM! Whole Foods hot bars are great. The whole foods around me do a great job with offering a good variety of things. Have fun in NYC, jealous :) LOL

  47. My WF doesn’t have a self-serve hot bar or salad bar! It makes me sad. =(
    We do have some prepared foods but you have to ask them to get them for you and ask for a certain size container and I’d so much rather be able to control it myself and get small amounts of different things. So, I’ve never bought anything.

  48. Lauren says:

    I’m de-lurking for the first time too!

    In Vancouver, Canada, we have several Whole Foods locations; it must not be on the east coast yet. As a vegetarian, it’s pretty much my dream grocery store. I usually forgo the hot bar for the salad bar though. I know I could probably make one just as delicious myself, but it’s nice to have all of the delicious grain, protein, and vegetable options in one place. There is one store here that offers the most amazing sesame tofu cubes – it’s so good I’ve made it the one exception to my ‘no soy’ principle!

    I am going to have to disagree about the testing though. Mostly for sanitary reasons. If I’m trying something new, I get a bit of it and pay for it along with the rest of my plate. They are running a business after all, and a pretty socially responsible one (comparatively). The more people that buy organic, natural items, the lower the cost will go. Nobody wins when people cheat them out of profits, because the prices will just skyrocket. That’s capitalism for you.

    1. Lauren,
      Hi! So glad you de-lurked! :)
      And about the testing: I definitely only would take a* tiny* taste of a few items about which I was MOST curious… but now that I know you’re allowed to ask to taste something, I won’t even do that anymore; I’ll ask first :).

  49. I’ve had the hot bar once. It was good, but as you can tell I didn’t shell out the money to repeat it again.

    The cheesecake tartlet looks so adorable and delicious!

  50. Jess says:

    I’ve GOT to get to WF for their hot bar–looks SO good!
    <3 jess

  51. shesarunner says:

    I love the WF hot bar, and I also kind of love that they are sticklers when it comes to sanitation and cross contamination etc because I am a germophobe with serious food allergies/intolerances….so I’m not as afraid of it as I would be in another similar “buffet type” situation.
    Your hot bar choices look great.
    And you look adorable in those pictures!

    1. shesarunner,
      Aw thank you! About the cross-contamination though: I kinda get annoyed with them sometimes, because I think they do NOT always do such a good job labeling. In more than one of the Dallas stores, as well as in the South Street (PA) store, I’ve discovered wrong labels (saying something was vegan while it also contained milk in the ingredients, or saying something was vegan when–if you looked at it–it obviously had cheese). Unfortunately for me, I once tried a tomato soup I was CONVINCED had cream after I tasted it. I was extremely angry (People with allergies could have eaten it!!) and finally was able to locate a person to get the correct label on there. They were very nonchalant about it, saying “Oh, sorry it was just a slip up.” Yeah? Well your “slip up” could have cost you a huge lawsuit if someone died!
      *Sorry for ranting!* As angry as I was, I know that the slip ups are a fault of a few people, not the corporation, so I continue to go to WF; I’m just more careful.

  52. We’re going to NYC at end of August and cannot wait! I’m also very excited to check out the wholefoods salads! Hopefully there’ll be gluten-free options otherwise i’ll be so disappointed xx

  53. Looks like a great time! Our WF hot/cold bar is pretty tiny- I’ve never tried it though.

  54. erinsloves says:

    look how cute you look girlie!! ive never been to a whole foods ):

  55. We don’t have a Whole Foods where I live-sigh :( But I fell in love with the one in Nashville last fall. That is the only one I’ve ver been to and I was in heaven! It’s probably for the best that we don’t have one because my poor hubby would never see me for dinner and we would be broke!

    We are leaving for vacation Friday–woohoo–and I’m guessing that we won’t get out the door when we are planning to. Keeping my fingers crossed though 😉

  56. Jenny says:

    I have been looking forward to your NYC posts…I love going there so much…in between visits, I must live vicariously through others’ stories and pictures.

    We pretty much only eat out at our WF hot bar/salad bar. We don’t have a very good hot bar, though. There’s usually only rice or stir-fry for vegans. Don’t feel about taste-testing – they would let you sample anything, anyway, if you asked. At least, that has been my experience, and I used to work in the deli/hot case portion of WF. :)

  57. jqlee says:

    I love the WF hot bar. It gets pricey though. I end up putting a little bit of EVERYTHING in it :)

    I bought my tickets for “Chicago” at that booth right behind ya a few days ago. I was in NYC too. Hope you enjoyed yourself because I didn’t. I am just not a fan. I am definitely a city girl (Chicago) but I guess NYC is too much for me. There were waaaaay too many tourists there and it was sooo hard for me to get around to my office in Times Square. Outside of TS, it was nice though.

    You look so tall in your pics Katie!! You should be a model :)

    1. jqlee,
      Hahaha I love you!!! I always love when someone thinks I’m tall. At 5’5, I wish I were taller.
      I wish I’d known you were in the city!!

  58. I bet NYC is amazing!

    Loved your cute lunch and I think I might be the almost only person on this planet to depart to vacation on time. But it’s only because I’m half German 😀

  59. Cassie says:

    I live in Canada, but next week we’re heading to Maine for vacation. I hear Portland has a WHF and i’m going to do my BEST TO VISIT IT. RAAHH! :)

  60. see….it’s ironic and funny..because i was in the exact same spot as you around the exact same time… and i did hug a *fruit* hahaha 😀
    i think i put those new “fruity” pictures up on my blog after you saw it though.

  61. Paula says:

    Hay CCK – I was just searching on your recipes using quinoa (I’m thinking of trying the oatmeal cinnamon bun using quinoa — maybe you’ll beat me to it with a perfected recipe), and noticed that you were in NYC for the marathon in 2010. I live in a borough (Queens) of NYC and next time you’re around would love to come and say hello to you. It feels nice that you were here. Nice pics … you are tall!

    Re: Whole Foods, it’s a great store, but seems too crowded with long lines.