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Eating well in Pismo Beach 

When it comes to fast food choices, we finally have an excellent option

Good quality food that’s delicious, nutritious, and fast—now that’s a fast food concept I totally embrace! Chop Street is a new eatery in Pismo Beach that offers excellent choices for a fast meal, but this convenient take-out place isn’t your typical chain restaurant. It’s a small mom-and-pop-type place that offers high quality foods at fair prices, considering the excellent ingredients coming out of their kitchen.

click to enlarge PICK, CHOP, AND ROLL :  Chop Street in Pismo Beach is offering a huge selection of freshly prepared vegetables, cheeses, and meats to be added to salads or wraps, all made right in front of the customer. - PHOTOS BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTOS BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PICK, CHOP, AND ROLL : Chop Street in Pismo Beach is offering a huge selection of freshly prepared vegetables, cheeses, and meats to be added to salads or wraps, all made right in front of the customer.

Chop Street, located on Price Street between the Cracked Crab and Vino Versato in Pismo, is a spot that housed many previous restaurants that didn’t stay around very long. But this one is a new concept for Pismo Beach, and it’s sure to last for those of us looking for great take-out food when you’re too tired to cook and don’t want to dine out. It opened around late August, and this is the first salad bar I’ve seen that actually motivated me to try it. I’ve never been big on salad bars, be they in a buffet or a grocery store.

It reminded me of a farm stand at the Farmers Market, where baskets hold freshly washed green lettuces, kale, and baby spinach. In the cold case—like any typical salad buffet but enclosed so customers can’t sneeze or cough contaminants on the freshly prepped ingredients—there’s everything you ever imagined would taste delicious in a salad, and then some. I loved the array of veggies with radishes, onions, green beans, cucumbers, various tomatoes, sprouts, carrots, banana peppers, olives, snow peas, pea shoots, cabbage, broccoli, and corn. The fruits include dried figs, apples, mandarin orange segments, pineapple, avocado, and cranberries. For the crunch factor, there are walnuts, pine nuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, hearts of palm, crispy wontons, pita chips, homemade focaccia croutons—and I haven’t mentioned half of it.

click to enlarge CUISINE-ChopStreet2-12-270.jpg

On my first visit, I tried “The Detox,” and not because it sounded like something good for a hangover (sort of like menudo, but I’ve never believed that enough to try it on New Year’s Day). Once you choose, you’ll understand why this place is called Chop Street: First the counterman, Jacob Green, the operations manager, threw some spinach and kale into the big stainless steel bowl, then added some red cabbage. He dumped it onto a cutting board, grabbed his double mezzaluna, and began chopping the ingredients into small pieces. He put the chopped greens back into the bowl and added the crunchy stuff: apples, sunflower sprouts, shredded red beets, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. He tossed it all with cayenne citrus vinaigrette and presented it in a reusable, recyclable, plastic container, added two grilled baguette slices, covered it, and handed it over. All that salad for only $8, or I could have it as a wrap for $7 with choice of flour, whole wheat, spinach, or sundried tomato wrapper. It’s a great value for your health and your taste. That’s the way they make all of their signature salads and wraps.

It was so good, I was eager to revisit it. Next, I tried the chicken ranch with romaine and spring salad, grilled chicken, bacon, cucumber, radish, corn, sunflower seeds, and ranch dressing in a whole wheat wrapper. By the way, other ingredients—such as avocado—can be requested for a nominal fee of 75 cents for grilled veggies to $3 for seared ahi tuna. Without additional requests I was crazy about that wrap; it was a super tasty combination. 

click to enlarge CHOP TILL YOU DROP:  Chop Street is at 779 Price St. in Pismo Beach, open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 295-6497.
  • CHOP TILL YOU DROP: Chop Street is at 779 Price St. in Pismo Beach, open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 295-6497.

I also ordered the Maui Wowie, their most expensive creation (wrap $10.75/salad $11.50)—a tasty combination of freshly seared ahi tuna, romaine, arugula, hearts of palm, cucumber, pineapple, sunflower sprouts, tomatoes, and avocado with cider vinaigrette. It was good, but I loved the other two more for their flavor and crunch. In fact, I can’t wait to go back for more of their excellent combos like El Ranchero, Hail to Kale, Caesar’s Palace, and the Far East. The menu makes my mouth water just reading about these delicious-sounding combinations, or you can create your own from the amazing array of fresh treats in the salad bar. They recently added housemade soups, all made from scratch by their cooks in the back kitchen who keep the salad ingredients and dressings fresh all day long.

I called Matthew “Matt” Shea, who co-owns Chop Street with SLO businessman John Mountain. Shea has been there each visit, explaining the concept to customers or making wraps and salads. He explained that their creative menu was designed by chef Charles Webber, executive chef at Adelina’s Bistro in Nipomo: “Charles created the signature menu and dressing recipes. He’s a chef with 38 years of experience in professional cooking. We make more than 20 dressings and our soups, they’re all made from scratch. We followed what places are doing back east, but this place is small so we focused on chopped salads.”

A healthy eater by nature, Shea admitted: “I’ve had less than 30 soft drinks in my life.”

“We’ve only been open 4 1/2 months, but we’ve had little turnover in staff,” he reported with satisfaction.

A former junior and high school teacher, now he’s committed to making his eatery succeed.

“Our cooks work at other local restaurants, so they’re all super experienced,” he explained.

The kitchen is now under the guidance of head chef Jeremy Limpangug, a fourth-generation Central Coast native. He’s currently creating a small dinner menu, but the details and hours haven’t been worked out yet.

“We focus on what we do best, and if it works we’ll keep it going. But if I hear it’s not working,” Shea promised, “I’ll definitely be talking it over with my employees.”

Contact Cuisine columnist Kathy Marcks Hardesty at khardesty@newtimesslo.com.

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