The Park Road Shopping Center is home to plenty of gems like Suarez Bakery and Flying Biscuit Café. But if you’ve driven by lately, you might have noticed a funky, modern sign hanging in between the fixtures you already know and love.
It’s the new home of Chopt, which describes itself as a “creative salad company.” This is the chain’s first location outside of the New York and Washington D.C. areas.
Wednesday night I headed to a preview event, where I got to experience Chopt firsthand.
If you can’t wait to try it, the management team tells me they’re shooting for a Friday opening, as long as they can get the finishing touches done. Either way, it will be open for business on Monday.
If you’re looking for a tragic salad bar with limp lettuce and semi-rotten tomatoes, Chopt is not your place.
Chopt is focused on the concept of “better.” The staff members wear shirts that say this word in various languages.
The other component of the Chopt philosophy is convenience. You can grab a healthy meal without wasting away your lunch hour.
Chopt co-founder Tony Shure graciously hopped behind the counter and prepared me a plate with a few of his favorite ingredients from an incredibly fresh looking toppings bar.
My favorites were these crunchy little quinoa discs (not the technical term) that looked like calamari and were truly life changing.
As I sampled various types of chicken, Shure showed me that the meat came apart easily, illustrating its quality. Fast food chicken, on the other hand, is spongy (his words) and scary (mine).
After nibbling on the toppings, I moved to the Kale Caesar salad, which was big for me because normally I want kale as far away from me as possible. However, I was blown away. I was an especially big fan of the dressing, which was tangy and flavorful.
All of the dressings are homemade. When you head into Chopt and look to your left, you’ll see a map featuring the different places in the world where inspiration for the dressings come from.
Chopt also offers “Destination Salads.” Every two months they rotate in three new creations. Shure develops these concoctions based on the travel he’s done and the experiences he’s had in these places.
“We want to tell an authentic story about different places in the world and the food found there, but in salad form,” he said.
I sampled two of this month’s Destination Salads, La Chinesca and The Berkeley Bowl. La Chinesca had just the right amount of kick to it. I loved the unique blend of ingredients, including avocado and quinoa, in The Berkeley Bowl.
I left my first Chopt experience feeling full, but not the kind of fast food full you get where your brain is foggy for hours after. I definitely get the Chopt hype.
Save me a spot in line.
Chopt, 4201 Park Road, Unit 70.
Photos: Lauren Levine