Move Over, Granola!

Written by R. Jill Fink, Food Editor | Photography by Chris Redd

Good secrets can’t be kept for long – and Ocala’s got one. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill gossip, though. This particular secret can potentially improve your life. Just a couple of blocks west of the Downtown Square, tucked into a beautifully decorated and intimate space, Good 4 You is a kind whisper that I predict will soon become a joyful roar.

From the title of this restaurant, one can infer that they serve food that’s focused upon the healthier side of eating – and they do. The mere mention of “health food” can evoke reactions from mild disdain to actual refusal for some. The thought of eating tofu can send shivers down the spines of those who dare not venture outside their own comfort zone. It’s normal to fear that which we do not know, but I challenge you to take a chance and have lunch at this locally-owned eatery.

The amazing food that twin sister chefs and co-owners Liz Rayal and Liza Ryan create in their cozy kitchen is more than just something to eat. Yes; it’s healthy, but beyond that, it’s surprisingly inviting. It’s art. Most of all, it’s downright delectable. Every dish is crafted with care out of hand-picked, local ingredients and delivered to your table with a genuine smile.

As soon as I walked into the restaurant, I somehow knew I was in for a great experience. Liza greeted me with a lovely British accent. We sat together at one of the sparkling, glass-topped tables to chat. I surveyed the almost minimalistic, impeccably clean and bright dining room. Surrounded by mint-colored walls, intriguing artwork, and sunlight, Liza explained to me that she and her sister strive each day to provide not only a beautiful space, but wonderfully creative food that expresses their own vivacious and healthy lifestyles. They understand the reluctance some have when it comes to health food. Liza stated simply, “Even though it’s healthy, it should have flavor.”

Before I could settle into my seat, I was presented with a purple smoothie made with organic blueberries. The descriptive word that came to mind was “ethereal.” It was delicious, cold and tart, with just the right amount of sweetness.

Following this gorgeous drink that could double as a tasty, healthy snack, I was delighted by a beautiful, big bowl of vegetarian, gluten-free carrot and butternut squash soup. It was thick and hearty, but somehow light at the same time. The bright orange soup was expertly seasoned with a hint of mild, yet spicy heat that lingered for just a moment after each luxurious bite. This memorable soup could easily be well-suited for winter or spring dining.

Soon after, an appetizing plate filled with a sampling of Good 4 You’s fare arrived. When they informed me that one of the sandwiches out of the two was their Tuna Melt Pita, I prepared myself for possible disappointment. I’ve never liked tuna melts, but I resolved to be polite. It was difficult to decide whether to “get it over with” and try the tuna melt first or dive willingly into the savory-sweet Turkey Breast Panini with homemade cranberry chutney, which I knew I’d most likely enjoy. I bravely decided to sample the tuna melt first.

To my astonishment, I was not only pleasantly surprised, but amazed at how hard it was to put it down in order to try the turkey. I’ve had great pesto, but never like the non-greasy creation layered into that sandwich. I thoroughly enjoyed the farm-fresh toppings as well. The crunch of the grated carrots, crispy lettuce and alfalfa sprouts were balanced perfectly by melted cheese and sweet, juicy slices of tomato. The ensemble was dressed with a bit of dairy-free mayonnaise and homemade miso dressing, all expertly tucked into a toasty pita pocket.

I found the Turkey-Cranberry Panini just as mouthwatering as the Tuna Melt. Carved, roasted turkey breast was graced with a succulent Swiss cheese, sliced tomato and tangy-sweet, homemade cranberry chutney. It was dressed with a delightful, dairy-free mayonnaise, lettuce, and sunflower seeds on a wonderful ciabatta roll.

It was difficult to decide which sandwich was better, but another star of the bunch was the house-made miso dressing, which I immediately dubbed “crave-worthy.” I silently wondered if I could get a bottle to go, but was so enamored by the food I forgot to ask. The sweet-savory dressing was not only fantastic on the sandwich and brilliant, leafy greens but excellent as a dip for those satisfying, flavorful chips.

One bite of the food at Good 4 You will convince you that the owners are serious as well as passionate about providing the highest quality for their customers. They “live and breathe” their concept, as their website states, and you will find that is perfectly true the moment you try their food. I completely forgot the meal was “healthy” because it was seasoned perfectly and layered with a depth of flavor that rivals any restaurant food I’ve ever had.

Over 300 years ago, British poet Joseph Addison said, “Health and cheerfulness naturally beget each other.” Liz and Liza exemplify this statement. Born in California to health-conscious parents, they have lived and traveled all over the world. Experiencing the cuisine of Spain, the Fiji Islands, Great Britain, and Canada, among other locales, the sisters have been in the restaurant business since 1983. Luckily, for Marion County residents, they brought their mother’s recipes, superior business acumen and exemplary attention to customer service to Ocala and opened Good 4 You in May of 2014.

Liz and Liza make a point to use locally-grown, organic vegetables and fruits in season, the bulk of which comes from Williston. Their menu is simple and they proudly offer different specials every day, depending upon available produce.

Another “secret” that will be out soon is the addition of an outdoor, fenced-in deck at the rear of the restaurant. At the moment, you can enjoy the fruity smoothies, raw juices and delectable fare inside or out front under umbrellas at café tables on the sidewalk.

Good 4 You cheerfully presents unexpected flavors, homemade dressings and sauces, and a substantial value in every meal. They want their customers to be comfortable and satisfied. With food that good and nothing on the menu over $8.99, they successfully accomplish this task.

If you’re in a hurry, call ahead and get your order to go. They also offer in-house catering for office parties, showers or other celebrations, allowing everyone at your next event to enjoy healthy food with scrumptious flavor.

Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, Good 4 You is located at 304C SW Broadway Street, just a short walk from the Marion Theatre, the downtown Saturday market, and the Marion County Courthouse. Check out their menu and read their story at

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