By MO NUWWARAH, SPORTS/HEALTH EDITOR
Walking into the new Red Mango downtown, I saw a sign advising me to “Rethink Yogurt.” Well, I didn’t think about yogurt much before my two trips to Red Mango, but I can’t help but give it a bit of attention after my visits to the frozen yogurt shop.
Frozen yogurt is a healthier alternative to ice cream. Red Mango opened its first location in 2007 in Los Angeles and now boasts more than 100 locations in 25 states. It uses “100 percent all natural, nonfat & lowfat, kosher, and gluten-free frozen yogurt fortified with probiotics,” according to its website. It was also the first frozen yogurt store to be certified by the National Yogurt Association as using real yogurt.
The downtown location opened June 4 and sits directly west of TD Ameritrade Park, right next to The Dugout. After entering, I noticed a group of people drifting around by what looked like a bunch of soft-serve ice cream machines, trying out different flavors. I hesitated, glancing over at the counter where someone was picking through some sort of buffet line.
The workers on duty behind the counter noticed my uncertainty and one offered a quick summary of my options – they had a variety of smoothies to choose from, or I could get a frozen yogurt dish topped with my choice of treats, which was priced by the ounce. After I indicated I’d be opting for the yogurt, the helpful worker told me to feel free to try as many samples as I wanted.
Red Mango uses a “swirl it, top it, weigh it” system. Customers fill a dish with as much frozen yogurt as they want and add toppings as they please from the “buffet line,” which features a variety of fruits and treats such as animal crackers, chocolate chips and gummies.
I wandered over to join the now-thinning crowd of sample-tasters and tried every flavor available. The lineup included Red Mango standards – Original, Pomegranate and Madagascar Vanilla – and seasonal flavors such as White Peach, Raspberry Cheesecake and Amaretto. Most were tart and tasty, though a couple – Dark Chocolate and Dulce de Leche – fell flat. Each flavor was paired with another in the same machine, giving customers the option of combining two flavors like a chocolate-and-vanilla twist from a soft-serve machine.
After a few minutes of deliberation, I settled on a White Peach-Raspberry combo, which I topped with blueberries, kiwis, mangoes and strawberries. I didn’t know how the price would shake out at 45 cents per ounce, and I was pleasantly surprised when my total came to just over $4.80. My companions had ordered smoothies, and we headed out to the patio, which seats about 20, to enjoy our cold desserts in the summer heat.
The first thing I noticed after taking a few bites was how fresh and flavorful the fruit toppings tasted. These clearly weren’t cut and stored days ago and tasted far better than the puree toppings you find at most frozen-dessert stores.
If you’ve never had frozen yogurt, the consistency is somewhere between regular ice cream and soft-serve, though closer to the latter. The tart flavor combined with the sweet fruit to make a delicious concoction, though it melted very fast on a 95-degree day.
I sampled my friend’s tropical mango smoothie and was struck by how much the fruit flavor stood out. My friend, an experienced smoothie drinker, agreed, saying it “tastes a lot more like real mango than Scooter’s [mango smoothie] does.” My other companion ordered the berry banana smoothie with protein added. It wasn’t quite as sweet as I would’ve liked, though that may have been a function of the optional protein addition. The smoothies cost $3.95 each.
Other options on the menu of the Dallas-based chain are fruit-and-yogurt parfaits ($4.50), “power” smoothies ($4.45 regular, $5.45 large), “spoonable” smoothies ($4.50) and probiotic teas and lemonades ($2.75 regular, $3.25 large). Each option has a calorie count listing for the health-conscious customer.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with Red Mango. Instead of advising people to “Rethink Yogurt,” perhaps they should change their slogan to “Rethink Dessert.”