Evolve Paleo Chef offers a robust, healthy menu.
Evolve Paleo Chef’s menu is comprised of foods that contain no processed sugars, no dairy and no wheat. Entrees, appetizers, side dishes and salads are just some of the items available in the cafe’s stocked, refrigerated cases. The organic, cold-pressed juice bar offers a wide variety of made-to-order drinks.
When I told my sister I was picking up dinner at the paleo restaurant, she asked if I was feeling OK.
I am not a diet person. I’ve never had a meal replacement bar or shake. And, I think I might be allergic to quinoa.
The roasted salmon with arugula pesto that I picked up sat in my fridge untouched for a day. I like salmon, so what was my problem? Did I think because it was paleo there would be rocks in it?
The news is the salmon was good. It was so good, in fact, I’ve been back to Evolve Paleo Chef for lunch and snacks. I didn’t go back because it’s paleo. I went back because I liked the food.
The paleo diet has picked up steam the past few years. Sometimes called the “caveman diet,” it references the foods eaten by people in the Paleolithic era. Those foods included animal protein, fish, fruits and vegetables, but no wheat or sugar. Evolve follows the same approach, with no processed sugars, no dairy and no wheat.
“We are chefs first who happen to cook paleo that tastes really good and is really healthy,” says Jason Fechter, co-owner of Evolve.
Fechter and Caleb Summers opened Evolve in Tulsa less than a year ago. They also have locations in Kansas and Arkansas.
Three years ago, Fechter was soon to become a chiropractor, studying for his board exams. That’s when he and Summers came up with a plan for a paleo restaurant. They knew plenty of people who were into CrossFit, which they say preaches paleo. They also knew many of these people didn’t have time to cook every night.
Most customers at Evolve order their meals in advance. Some order for the entire week, some order just lunches or just dinner for one or two nights a week. Others stop in to pick up breakfast, lunch or dinner. Unlike some meal take-out programs, Evolve does not require customers to buy a certain amount of meals. Meals are stored in a refrigerated case in single-serve, microwave-safe containers.
Fechter says a good portion of customers have a health issue — Celiac disease, gluten-sensitivity, Crohn’s or diabetes. Another segment is into the latest fitness and health trends. Still others are just too busy to cook.
Evolve’s menu changes each week, depending on availability and seasonality of food from producers and local farmers.
“We have farmers who literally back their truck up to our kitchen,” Fechter says. “That’s how fresh it is.”
Those who like traditional foods will appreciate familiar dishes like meatloaf with green beans, tomato soup, mustard-baked chicken or pork carnitas. Unexpected foods show up, too. Recently a farmer brought enough emu to make emu burgers.
One of the best entrees I tasted was a chipotle chicken-stuffed sweet potato. It’s a sweet potato roasted and then stuffed with dark meat chicken, chopped kale, lemon juice and pepitas. It had the sweet, spicy, salty and umami flavors more akin to chef’s food than health food.
Evolve also makes great lettuce wraps. The pork lettuce wraps are a tasty blend of ground pork sautéed with mushrooms and sesame oil, then served with lettuce cups and a crunchy slaw with Sriracha cashew sauce. The portion is enough for a substantial lunch or light dinner.
Salads feature dried fruits, nuts and roasted vegetables. All come with homemade dressings. Everything here is made from scratch, including ketchup, mayonnaise and salsa.
One of the most popular side items at Evolve is a cilantro-lime cauliflower rice. “Rice” and “pasta” here are made with cauliflower, and then either put through a ricer or mashed. Cilantro and lime are added for the rice.
Along with a stocked refrigerator case, Evolve has pantry shelves with paleo staples like trail mix, granola and bread made with almond flour. Popular with adults and kids is a snack called paleo balls — little treats made from ground nuts, prunes or dates, chocolate and other flavors.
I love the juices at Evolve. All are made onsite at the organic, cold-pressed juice bar. You can’t beat fresh-squeezed orange juice, and it’s popular enough that Evolve keeps it stocked. Carrot and apple also is a delicious blend.
Most breakfast items, soups, salads and desserts run around $5. Entrees are about $10.
Entrees are made at Evolve’s large kitchen in Kansas City. Chefs prepare the food on Fridays and Saturdays, and it’s then delivered by refrigerated truck to the Tulsa store by Sunday morning. Many people pick up their meals for the week on Sundays. But others stop in throughout the week for a la carte meals, juices or snacks.
Fechter says he has talked to paleo skeptics who call the diet “crazy.”
“But a steak is a steak,” he says. “And we make a great steak.”
Evolve Paleo Chef
3023 S. Harvard Ave., 918-550-8585