I recently had the opportunity to try lunch at Chop’t Creative Salad Company. This is a small chain of restaurants, with a handful of locations in New York City and the Washington, DC metropolitan area. I’d never been before, but the suggestion was made so several of us took a trip to try it out.
At first it’s extremely overwhelming. There’s just so much going on. The lines of people, all the menu choices on the wall, the conversations all around. But we were almost immediately greeted by somebody who asked us if it was our first time there and offered us menus. This helped out immensely.
At Chop’t, you can be as healthy or as decadent as you want. As the name implies, it’s all about the salads here. But if you worry (like I did) that just a salad won’t be filling enough, you might want to think again. These salad are really meals on their own. However, you can also have any salad that you want made as a sandwich on their grilled honey wheat flatbread. Creatively enough, they call these salad sandwiches!
The line moved fast, but it was just slow enough that I had time to figure out what I wanted, although I’m sure I changed my mind at least half a dozen times. I ended up going with the Santa Fe, with romaine lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, corn, crispy onions, and pepper jack cheese. I had it with the Tex-Mex Ranch dressing, not the lightest option for sure, but very delicious. (I may copy this and make a recipe from it soon!) I also added chickpeas and smoked tofu, which turned out to be an inspired choice.
You can actually add any number of ingredients to your salad, making it easy to enjoy your own unique creation. You can also just build your own from scratch. All the classic salad veggies are there, along with inspired options like grilled asparagus, peppadew peppers, gigante beans, roasted tomato, and homemade(!) croutons. They have a number of vegetarian selections and, even though I didn’t ask, I’m sure you could substitute the meat on any salad for tofu or just leave it off entirely.
They had a seasonal vegan offering with beluga lentils, carrots, sunflower seeds, apples, kale, and mesclun lettuce in a miso tahini dressing. I think they should have this year-round! (According to their allergy document, 11 regular dressings and 4 spa—lighter—dressings are vegan, along with that miso tahini one! So even a vegan would have an easy time crafting a delicious lunch at Chop’t.)
When you reach the end of the line, they dump your salad onto a cutting board and chop it up. That’s where the name comes from, I guess. I was a little skeptical because I didn’t want everything mushy, but it works. Eating is a breeze. You can get a little bit of everything in one bite! They even ask you if it’s chopped enough or if you want them to do it more.
Let’s talk about the soda fountain. Normally I don’t even give that thing a second glance. But the machine here carried Puck’s Soda. I took a closer look and discovered that it was made with real sugar and without preservatives. The best part? No artificial flavors or colors! I had the birch beer and then refilled with the black cherry. Puck’s, where have you been all my life? I can’t even find a website for them. They did have a couple of diet offerings, but I wasn’t able to figure out how they sweetened those. I’m really curious to find out.
The service was impeccable, the food was fantastic, and the concept is solid. I really hope Chop’t does well and expands into other markets so that more people will have a chance to try what they offer—a fast, healthy option for hectic schedules. I know I’ll be back. Maybe for that Modern Greek salad next time…