You have to know what you are doing in advance, because the place is huge and the different sections are strewn about randomly. A few practice runs will cure this though. Once you know the drill, the food is decent, but not amazing. The good news is that there are an endless number of choices, something for everyone. Also, they give samples IF you are quick and can corner a food bar attendant. Expect a tasty, healthy meal, but not a memorable one.
First off, the vegan options are one or two per day. Although I believe there are maybe 1 to 2 more options that are vegan but the ingredients say they have butter or cheese which I think is incorrect. But when you ask an employee the ingredients they read you the sign as if you were unable to read it yourself. The thing is the food is put out at the hot food bar without the ingredient cards. Then someone goes through the hundred or more ingredient cards they have and picks the one they think matches the dish. Several times I looked at a dish and was all but sure there was no Parmesan cheese in it, even though cheese was listed as an ingredient. But being the vegan I am I ask someone jut to make sure. One employee will ask another and then one who claims to know will look at the card and then tell me what the ingredients are. This is after I ask the simple question, 'did you use Parmesan in this?'. They have to read the card to know??? I am simply trying to point out to them that the wrong card is there and asking them to verify with the chef. At other Whole Foods they will. Meanwhile one time when I challenged someone and said, they must be wrong because, 'just look, there is clearly no cheese' they then went to the back to check. And keep in mind I explained that I am a vegan so I am glad it doesn't have the cheese but I just need to make sure. The person then angrily goes back to find the answer. She then comes out with a bunch of cheese and before I know it she is spreading it on the dish. I exclaim 'what are you doing?'. She then says she is putting cheese on the dish so I won't have anything to complain about. I never complained, I just politely asked a question. So to punish me, knowing I can't eat the dish with cheese she throws it on before I can stop her. In general I love Whole Foods markets but due to the many experiences I have had at the hot food bar I almost never go to this location.
Updated from previous review on Tuesday November 08, 2011
Updated from previous review on Friday November 11, 2011
Updated from previous review on Monday January 07, 2013
Cons: little vegan hot food bar options, ingredients sign wrong EVERY day , some employees have bad attitudes
The Thousand Oaks store stocks many vegan products, but I cannot always find what I need. There are vegan options in the prepared foods section and bakery, but there could be more. I love the Fumi Salad and Glowing Green Smoothie. I wish that there were more vegan cakes and pastries.
I stopped in to grab lunch, but took a look around since I was there. It seemed to be a fairly basic Whole Foods with the usual vegan items. The deli section had several different counters with a salad bar, a hot bar, an Asian bistro, and a pizza and sandwich area as well as the usual cold deli section with pre-made salads, etc. Vegan items were labeled as such. I went with a sandwich, the Meatless Loaf Sandwich, one of several vegan ones available. It came with Field Roast meatloaf, but the preparer didn't heat it up beforehand and the grilling at the end once the sandwich was made didn't help much, but I love Field Roast regardless. The worst part was waiting for the sandwich as they have a rotisserie behind the counter that was cooking about 2 dozen whole chickens. :-(
Cons: sells meat, dairy and eggs
I'm vegan and I also eat only organic so although I only shop at Whole Foods, I still need to read the labels. Not everything is organic (especially in the self-serve restaurant area) so I really have to ask questions. Thankfully the staff is super-friendly so I can navigate but it takes a little bit of time. By far, Whole Foods is the best place for vegan and organic grocery shopping.
Cons: Organic mixed with Conventional
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