Red Mango for fro-yo on the go

by Brian Clarey

The toppings at Red Mango — fruit, candy, nuts and sugar-sweetened cereal among them — are always fresh. The frozen yogurt is pretty great, too. (photo by Brian Clarey)

On the last day of summer I took stock of the season that had passed, going down the list of goals I had set back in June and comparing it with the things I had actually done in the months in between.

I did manage to spend a lot of family time, and I managed to get out of town a couple times. But I did not get as much writing done this summer as I had intended, and one of the things I had meant to write but never got around to was a story on frozen delicacies. It was time to cross one more thing off the list, and I knew just where I wanted to go.

The self-serve frozen yogurt trend that started in California reached the Triad about two years ago, and by now there are maybe a dozen joints in the region where one can make a personal dish of fro-yo and customize the toppings.

Perhaps the best-known outpost for this sort of thing is the chain Red Mango, with a location in Greensboro’s Shops at Friendly Center and another planned for the Palladium in High Point.

Not all fro-yo is created equally, and Red Mango touts the salubrious effects of its fare: all natural, bereft of artificial colors and flavors; laden with calcium and protein; gluten free; and loaded with live, active bacteria cultures — the “friendly” bacteria that take up residence in your digestive tract and aid in breaking down foods and boosting your immune system.

Each Red Mango offers about a dozen flavors of yogurt at any time, which can be served in cups and topped or whipped into smoothies by counter personnel. Samples are free, and as I made my way down the line of flavors — dark chocolate, coconut, mango, pomegranate and amaretto among them, I was struck by the clean flavor and smooth texture. But I was unprepared for how much I would like the original flavor: creamy and tangy vanilla, absolutely the best frozen yogurt I have ever tasted. And I’ll be frank: I don’t even like frozen yogurt all that much.

The buffet of fresh toppings is impressive. Along with every traditional ice-cream topping like sprinkles, cookie crumbles and dough, they have sugar-sweetened cereal, granola, nuts and loads of fresh fruit, but I liked my yogurt so much I didn’t feel the need to besmirch it with toppings, choosing just a few high quality dark chocolate chips. Red Mango charges 45 cents an ounce for its self-serve confections, so going light on the toppings probably saved me about a buck, though it was not an inexpensive visit — more than $5 for my dish of fro-yo, which is more than I would normally spend on this kind of thing.

But it was so good I found myself thinking about it again the next day, and even though summer was officially over by then, I made my way out for more frozen yogurt. This time I chose an independently owned shop a little closer to my office. On the surface everything looked similar at this the place, with maybe a few less flavors and toppings, but a slightly lower price point. But here’s the thing: It wasn’t as good — not as tangy, not as creamy, not as loaded with acidophilus as the Red Mango stuff. It wasn’t even close.

I won’t be back to this other place, but I’ll be going back to Red Mango until the weather fully turns.


wanna go?

Red Mango The Shops at Friendly Center 3354 W. Friendly Ave., Greensboro