Seemed like a good idea; but in the end, it wasn't. Sweet Bananas is closed.jump-->
Sweet Bananas Grill has opened in the space momentarily occupied by Bad Bob's BBQ with a concept that's sort of a Latin themed Chipotle. Wraps, sandwiches and plates. It's from the same family that owns Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine; which I didn't know until after I'd been there.
The idea here is a good one. they have meats, beans and sides and you can have any number of plates, sandwiches and wraps. Then they have a bunch of sauces to add to the variety.
The place is very metallic, with a few seats inside and a patio out front. The counter is a long steam table with machines on the back counter to press sandwiches and to make cuban coffee.
Sweet Banana's Interior
I was having a low carb meal, so I opted for a plate to start. You can get meat plus 1 side for $7, 2 sides for $8 or 3 sides for $9. The only thing from column 2 I could eat was romaine lettuce, and I can't see paying $1 for lettuce, so I just ordered the Chimi-Churri Steak with Black Beans. I also ordered the Pork Mojo sandwich that I'd eat later.jump-->
It took them quite a while to make it; the plate stuff came right off the steam table, but the sandwich seemed to take a lot longer than it should. Finally it was ready. The "mojo" sauce for the sandwich was given to me, but they didn't give me chimichurri sauce for the steak; I had to ask for it.
When I was driving to this place I was pretty excited about the concept, but the portion that I could see for the "plate" wasn't very impressive. Also, finding out that the Las Vegas people were behind it took some wind out of the sails. When I got home I opened it all up and laid it out.
Sweet Banana's food
The tray looks pretty empty with just 1 side. They were pretty cheap with the portions; I understand meat portioning, but beans are 90 cents a can. I got a better idea of how much it was when I transferred it to a bowl.
Sweet Banana's Bowl
That's all there was. The meat and peppers weighed out to just over 4 ounces, so it was less than 4 ounces of meat. While they measure the meat at Chipotle as well, they also pile on the beans, rice, veggies cheese and sour cream for less than this measly portion cost. I opened up the sandwich to take a picture and I really couldn't believe what was in there; a thin layer of shredded pork with a couple of onions mixed in. The menu says sliced pork; does that look sliced to you? And why does this cost $1 more than a cuban sandwich which includes ham and cheese and pickles? This sandwich was insulting.
Sweet Banana's Pork
The mojo sauce was just cheap oil with a lot of garlic in it; I could get the same authenticity from a jar of chopped garlic. I tasted the chimichurri sauce and it was way too vinegary for me, and hardly any cilantro. I can do without the cilantro, but this wouldn't do. I added some good EVOO and some of the garlic from the "Mojo" sauce, and it was much better. I was still hungry after eating the steak. I also tasted the sandwich while it was still warm. Without sauce is was very plain. Again, cheapness with the meat is one thing, but miserliness with onions is inexcusable.
I think that this place could be a pretty good idea if they were doling out generously stuffed, authentic sandwiches, but this looks like the type of place where they're looking to set up some sort of high margin franchise operation. The problem is that places like Chipotle give you a lot more food for less money. A business model that gives you skimpy portions of mediocre food is going to have a hard time competing.