$10 Tuesdays – California Chicken Café

For some time, I have wanted to try the food at California Chicken Café, a restaurant that has seven locations in California, but every time I went around lunchtime it has always been packed. Finally this Tuesday, I went to the location at 2401 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica. The restaurant was not as crowded as usual, and since most items on the menu for one person are under $10, I decided to have my $10 Tuesday lunch there. The café is a bright, unoriginal, open space. The restaurant offers abundant seating, and the dark wooden tables serve as a nice contrast to the bright yellow walls. A counter is located at the opposite end of the entrance, displaying all the side dish options in canteens. Overall the restaurant looks very clean and neat, but a little dull.

I stood in line by the counter and placed my order. California Chicken Café has a large variety of items from which to choose, but as the name implies, most of the dishes include chicken. The restaurant offers wraps, salads, and various combinations of chicken served with up to three sides. Their side menu is extensive, including soups, mashed potatoes, pasta salads, steamed vegetables, and rice.

Unlike the interior, the food is anything but dull. The three-piece chicken with two sides meal costs $9.25, and is a rather large lunch.

My chicken was tasty, with slightly crispy skin and moist meat. It was perfectly paired with the broccoli pasta salad, which consisted of pasta and broccoli mixed with ranch and Italian dressings. Surprisingly, the popular “Hot Potatoes” were not that savory. Red potatoes sautéed with onions, garlic, and seasoning sounded delicious, but the potatoes were dry, and I wonder if they forgot the seasoning and garlic on my order. It was a good thing that there was salsa, BBQ sauce, and ketchup at the condiment bar to save the potatoes for me.

California Chicken Café offers white-meat-only on dishes, which makes it a smart alternative for the health-conscious. The restaurant also offers low-calorie sides, low-fat dressings, and non-fat mayonnaise.

Even though chicken is the heart of this restaurant, it does offer several vegetarian dishes. The “Veggie Wrap,” with avocado, jack cheese, carrots, sprouts, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and Italian dressing, wrapped in either white or whole-wheat pita bread, costs $6.50. The wraps are substantial and generously filled.

California Chicken Café is an ideal place for a healthy, inexpensive lunch. During the lunch rush, it gets crowded, but after 2 p.m. it is not as busy. There is a park a few blocks away from the Wilshire Boulevard location. I recommend ordering the food to go, walking over to the park, and having your meal there. California Chicken Café also caters to larger groups.

Yay! – $1.50 gets you unlimited fountain drinks or iced tea.

Nay! – There is an extra charge for all white meat.