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Fast food has been a ubiquitous part of the North American experience for nearly a century (seriously, the first White Castle opened in 1921) and while it’s certainly done its growing over those years, it hasn’t really changed all that much except to defy the laws of what constitutes a sandwich (why, KFC??). Amid the steadily increasing caloric density, a second trend has also emerged: the “healthy” fast food.

Except it’s never, ever, ever what we want it to be. Salads are either pre-packaged and wilty or waaay too expensive. Don’t even get us started on if you’re not in the mood for lettuce. You’re out of luck, my friend. What is a health-conscious person to do when they just want something quick, filling and maybe even — gasp! — not a garden salad? Well, maybe, just maybe, we’ve found the answer.

The future of fast food could just lie in a new Canadian restaurant concept by the name of Mad Radish. Co-founded by David Segal of Davids Tea fame (right!?) and Stephanie Howarth, the new concept isn’t just a salad place, it’s a whole new healthy lifestyle culture that incorporates all our favourite health trends from eating to taking care of the planet to helping the community.

Mad Radish already has three restaurants in Ottawa and recently expanded to Toronto. The plan is to open a few more in the 6ix before potentially expanding to other cities across Canada. If the trajectory of Davids Tea is any indication, we could see these babies popping up all over the place in the coming years.

So what does the future of fast food look like? We’re so glad you asked.

It’s healthy and interesting

Sure, the past few years have been full of people and companies telling us they’re going to prove that “healthy” doesn’t have to mean boring. We get it. We’re convinced. But Mad Radish takes that concept to the next level with a chef-driven menu that spans the flavours of the globe while keeping things fresh and healthy. Toronto-based chef Nigel Finley crafted the menu that includes dishes like Butter Cauliflower Curry, Thai Mango salad, Shwarma Chicken hand pies and the best darn vegan Smoky Caesar salad we’ve ever had the privilege of consuming.

It’s got something for everyone

A lot of restaurants that hang their hats on the fact they offer delicious healthy food also tend to go all vegetarian or all vegan. Worse are the ones who offer everything as a vegetarian base and then charge an extra $5 or more for protein. Mad Radish doesn’t do that. While they don’t have any red meat on their menu yet, they offer a selection of chicken dishes that are only, at most, $2 more than their veggie counterparts. That being said, there are multiple veggie and vegan options readily available without substitutions too (plus you can modify almost everything or build your own).

 

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Our Ginger Chicken Salad is ready for its close up… 💅📸😍

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It’s actually affordable

What does a fancy-dancy meal like that put you back? A whole lot less than you would expect, actually. Not a single item on their current menu cracks $14 without add-ins and their most expensive add-in (Spicy Chicken) is still only $4.25. If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, there are ready-made salads, sides and snacks starting at $4.25, and you can get a soup and bread combo for just $6.75.

Now those are prices we can get behind. Just please don’t hike them on us when you’re all big and international!

 

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In a hurry? We got you. Grab and go salads and snacks, made fresh every dang day. 🏃💚🙌😋

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It’s local

The stores are only in two markets right now, but Segal says he intends to keep as many ingredients as possible locally sourced, regardless of Mad Radish’s scale. That means when you buy, you’re not only giving a Canadian company your business, you’re helping out your local farmers. As if we didn’t feel good enough already.

It’s super easy to access

There’s an app for everything, including Mad Radish, and it’s one of the more visually pleasing ones out there for sure. It’s got a high focus on imagery, showing photos of everything you’re ordering, and all the nutrition information you could want is right there within the app. It’s like scrolling through a health food Instagram with the option to purchase all the goodies you’re looking at. Now, isn’t that the Millennial dream?

Mad Radish app interface
Mad Radish

It gives back

Okay, so we’ve already talked up the app a lot but here is the actual best part: every time you order through your Mad Radish account, they donate a serving of fresh produce to a local food bank. That’s right. Through their partnership with Community Food Centres Canada, each meal you purchase either with the app or by scanning your member ID in-store gives someone in need in your community fresh food. You’re literally doing good by eating here. Plus, you can track your impact through the app and see how many servings you’ve personally donated as well as how many the company has given as a whole.

Mad Radish app track your impact
Mad Radish

It’s environmentally conscious

In the past few years, we’ve become acutely aware of the terrible impact our fast food habits have had on the environment. Plastic straws and bags, wax-lined to-go cups, styrofoam takeout containers — all of it gets thrown in a landfill (or worse) and never fully decomposes. At Mad Radish, everything is compostable. Yes, everything. The paper takeout containers, the plant-based plastic takeout containers, even the cutlery. Everything can be thrown straight in the compost. The exception to the rule is that they also sell other packaged brands like bottled water. Thankfully, those things can be recycled.

 

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Friday lunch done right. Thanks @samanthadolly for the pic! 🥗 💙

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It’s personal

Along with the storefronts, Mad Radish launched a blog called Mad Chatter (get it?) that we swear it’s more than just a marketing tool. Sure there are your typical “who we are” entries all about how incredible their food and philosophy is (we say as if we haven’t been singing their praises for 1000 words at this point) but they also dispel common health myths and offer wellness tips. Look, our food wants us to be healthy.

It’s got the best cookie we’ve ever tasted OMG

To be quite honest, we went to bed thinking about the Mad Radish Chocolate Hazelnut Cookie. It danced on clouds in our dreams. We woke up wanting one for breakfast. It’s delicious. And the best part is it’s made with a grand total of five ingredients with no added preservatives and costs less than $2. We’re hooked.

 

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