It's Black Friday, and embarrassingly on this day after Thanksgiving, you are hungry. Perhaps you didn't stuff yourself with enough stuffing. Or maybe Aunt Marie's Brussels sprouts didn't hit the spot. Whatever the reason, you're out shopping for deals, and whaddya know, your stomach is growling. Below are a few standout restaurants, located near noted shopping meccas, where you can enjoy a healthy meal without feeling as though your stomach is about to 'splode.
1601 S. University Drive, Fort Worth, 817-885-8965, Zoeskitchen.com
This Alabama-based restaurant opened its first Fort Worth location this month, just across the street from University Park Village (where you can find, among other places, an always-packed Apple store, Barnes & Noble and the much-anticipated new Anthropologie). The focus here is on fresh food, with a Mediterranean bent. Feta cheese, olive oil and vegetables rule the diverse menu. Pita sandwiches, salads and even a protein platter -- in case you didn't get enough turkey the day before -- are available. Sides vary from the mundane pasta salad to the curious, but delicious, braised white beans. When the potato salad has no mayo, you know a place is serious about cooking light. On a recent visit, I tried the veggie pita pizza, which is served with a side Greek salad. My companion had the spinach roll-ups. Both were loaded with veggies such as sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. And the Greek salad was authentic, too; the feta was sharp and tangy, and the whole thing was slicked with just the right amount of oil-and-vinegar dressing. The restaurant has a nice patio, where, if you squint, you might be able to gauge the wait time at the Apple store's Genius Bar.
Freebird's World Burrito
Pipeline Village at 1301 W. Pipeline Road, Hurst, 817-282-8100, freebirds.com
Freebird's, which just opened a location near North East Mall, might not be your first thought when looking for a light lunch or dinner option before or after buying that deeply discounted flat-screen TV. Their burritos weigh more than a well-fed Chihuahua. But Freebird's features an array of fresh ingredients. Choose the smallest burrito (the Hybird) and make it a wheat tortilla. White-meat chicken, black beans and a great selection of vegetables, plus salsa (I like the habanero) and guacamole, can yield a tasty and healthy concoction. Portion control is key; I cannot vouch for you if you order (and finish) a Super Monster burrito. Other good, downsized options include the kid's 6-inch quesadilla and the Freedom Salad.
Freebird's is smartly situated near a number of the area's retail behemoths. Other locations include across from Hulen Mall in Fort Worth, Arlington Highlands and Alliance Town Center.
Jersey Mike's Subs
Hulen Corner Shopping Center at 4833 S. Hulen St., 817-294-2460, www.jerseymikes.com
This franchise just opened its first location in Fort Worth near Hulen Mall. It's next to a Five Guys Burgers and Fries and a Pizza Inn, so straightaway, if you choose to dine here, you're doing something right. The options are straightforward. Jersey Mike's is a standard-issue sub shop, but the food is freshly prepared, especially the house-made bread. Order the Veggie (bell peppers, Swiss and provolone) and add extra veggies. Or, if you're a glutton for punishment, have the turkey breast and provolone. The restaurant also has wraps and salads, including something called a Sub in a Tub. Not really that appetizing a name, mind you, but this bread-free option could make up for all of those buttered rolls you ate the day before.
Piranha Killer Sushi
Arlington Highlands at 309 Curtis Mathes Way, Suite 149, Arlington, 817-465-6455, www.piranhakillersushi.com
Owners Kenzo Tran and Tommy Le first brought Piranha to (north) Arlington almost a decade ago. This second south Arlington location opened about a year ago and is an ideal spot to grab a quick, light meal while shopping at the Highlands. Tran and Le worked for years in Florida, and in their mini-Piranha empire (other locations include Sundance Square and one in Austin), they've infused breezy Floridian decor, not to mention food that pays homage to the Sunshine State (the Bahamian Conch Salad, the Forget Me Not Roll). The sushi stands out for its artful presentation; it's almost too beautiful to eat. But then you realize it's too good not to eat. For the sushi-averse, there's a large selection of noodle dishes, like the omnipresent Pad Thai, ginger beef with sweet potatoes and asparagus, and chicken with udon noodles. If you successfully avoid the tempura offerings (which is hard to do), Piranha's food could be the perfect antidote to a holiday belly that runneth over.