While preparing to spend three months near Oak Harbor, WA (on Whidbey Island), I reminded myself that it might not be easy to find healthy deli or restaurant food there. I'd previously driven through this military town, but I'd only noticed fast food franchises and cocktail lounges whirl by.
I was braced for the worst. Yet after arriving on island, I was still excited to investigate—to wander around with fresh eyes—to see what kind of healthy food options could be found.
With bright blue skies above, I first drove through historic downtown Oak Harbor, which stretches along the water. Slowly meandering on Pioneer Way, purple window trim drew my eyes to the right, where a sign said Sweet Rice. With a name like that, I had to stop.
I pushed open the front door and heard the gentle sounds of a loving family running their restaurant together. Their genuine kindness, delightful conversation, and interest in helping me eat plant-based and gluten-free did not end.
I ate at Sweet Rice regularly. For lunch. For dinner. For tea. In cozy booths. Their prices were some of the most affordable I'd seen. (I'd even order an extra lunch, to-go, to eat as dinner during night class. =)
I still searched for healthy food at other Oak Harbor restaurants, but Sweet Rice was by far the best—the freshest, least oil, tastiest, kindest, and most comforting restaurant I experienced.
When it was time for me to say goodbye, my heart ached a little. Deliciously full of appreciation for the good Sweet Rice gives, on so many levels, to those who walk through its door, I (so) wanted to take them with me.