Growing up, I was admonished at regular intervals to eat my vegetables. This was usually at suppertime, as I stared morosely at a steaming pile of mashed turnips on my plate. Now, I know that the turnip is nutritious and palatable to some, but it is never going to be on my “Favorite Foods” list. Fortunately, I’ve discovered a place where you can eat your vegetables, along with other assorted goodies, and have a great time doing it.
That place is Jason’s Deli, a neat delicatessen/health bar occupying about 5,000 square feet of 1091 Hamilton Place in Johnson City. Jason’s is a mecca for those diners who have special dietary needs. Their versatile team of cooks can adjust any of their menu items on request.
Their motto is “Good Food Made Right, Here,” and Jason uses fresh ingredients, many of them organic in origin.
Being a “health bar” means Jason’s has an outstanding salad bar, several gussied-up baked potatoes, excellent pasta dishes and a good selection of various deli sandwiches. These last includes their signature Muffaleta sandwich. The full-sized version takes a tall stack of ham, hard salami, provolone and Jason’s own olive relish mix, and piles it on a 9-inch loaf of New Orleans muffaleta bread. Believe me, one of these can easily feed two hungry diners for $11.99.
For my vegetarian friends, may I recommend Jason’s newest offering, the Zucchini Grillini ($6.59)? The Grillini features a succulent mix of grilled zucchini slices mixed with red onions, roasted red peppers, kalamata olives and roma tomatoes all grilled on 9-grain artisan bread. Though Jason’s offers the baked chips with this sandwich, try the fresh fruit as a side order.
For those wanting “something turkey” for lunch, Amy’s Turkey-O ($5.49) fills the bill quite nicely. Here, Jason’s takes a generous portion of turkey breast, adds sliced avocado, red onions, roma tomatoes and jalapeno pepper jack cheese, served up on a toasted onion bun with a dollop of stone-ground mustard. A side order of baked chips rounds out the meal.
If you can’t decide from what’s on the menu, Jason’s creative kitchen staff can help you create a special sandwich of your own. For starters, you can choose an organic wheat wrap, an herb foccacia, sourdough New Orleans baguette, the 9-grain bread, honest-to-goodness Jewish rye bread, even a bagel or a croissant.
For your sandwich filler, choose from premium ham, smoked or oven-roasted turkey breast, tuna salad, roast beef or chicken salad with almonds and pineapple. Then choose how hungry you are: a whole sandwich created this way is $5.99, a “lighter portion,” or half sandwich size, is just $4.99. Yes, Jason’s does a classic deli-style Reuben sandwich ($8.39 whole, $6.89 lighter portion) complete with a half pound of thin-sliced corned beef, aged Swiss cheese, tangy sauerkraut and Russian dressing. You can get it classic style on grilled rye bread, or get it Mystery Diner-style on sourdough.
If you don’t want corned beef on your Reuben, try sliced smoked turkey breast instead, then swap the Russian dressing for stone-ground mustard and pay a buck fifty less. Those looking for a heart-healthy alternative can’t beat Jason’s Savvy Chicken Salad Wrap ($4.99). To an organic whole wheat wrap filled with the aforementioned chicken salad with almonds and pineapple are added sliced red onions, leaf lettuce and roma tomatoes. The result weighs in at a modest 354 calories and tastes absolutely yummy!
Jason’s also offers healthy pasta dishes. Their new Zucchini Garden pasta ($7.29 for a whole portion, or $5.99 for a lighter portion) starts with bowtie pasta and adds a succulent mixture of grilled zucchini, roasted tomatoes, organic spinach and artichokes, then tops the dish with bubbling aged Asiago cheese. (Oh, go ahead; get the whole portion. You can skip dessert just this once.)
Still, the dessert menu is worth a peek, containing as it does Jason’s decadent dessert bars at $2.29 apiece. My current favorite is white chocolate/raspberry. Their cream cheese/pecan style bar is also good, and I must try the chocolate caramel bar on another visit. Jason’s delivers any of their creations for a nominal fee and does catering as well.
I must admit, given the variety of healthy and delicious dishes on offer, eating my vegetables isn’t a chore anymore, not when I can have them at Jason’s Deli.
1091 Hamilton Place
Open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. every day
Credit cards accepted