With its fresh ingredients and from-scratch recipes, the recently opened Chop Street is a cut above.
This small eatery quietly launched on Price Street in Pismo Beach in August, and has been steadily stacking up fans of its chopped-to-order salads and wraps.
The concept is straightforward and simple: Patrons choose their menu item, and then the Chop Street staff chops the ingredients to order and tosses them together as you watch.
At the heart of Chop Street are the cutting tools themselves — curved blades in the shape of a half-moon called mezzalunas. A handle on each end allows for a rapid, rocking back-and-forth cutting motion, so the choppers can make short work of any order.
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Co-owner John Mountain explained that “the concept has been in New York for years,” where he saw it while visiting friends. “I immediately thought it would be perfect for California.”
You can create your own salad/wrap, or pick one of the couple dozen menu choices in three different categories.
“Surf & Turf” includes a Cobb Classic, a Bahama Shrimp with pineapple and hearts of palm, or an El Ranchero with grilled chicken and bacon. Under “Around the World & Back” is a Far East Wrap with snow peas and mandarin oranges, as well as a Cobbab with peppers, garbanzos and feta cheese. “Fruits & Veggies” offers up a kale and cabbage Detox, or a 21 Chop Street that’s jam packed with greens, melon, apple, alfalfa sprouts, hard-boiled egg, grape tomatoes, sunflower seeds and avocado.
Mountain teamed up with Matt Shea to start their independently owned business (not affiliated with similar franchises located nationally and internationally), and they brought on Jeremy Limpangug as executive chef from day one.
Charles Weber of Adelina’s Bistro originally brainstormed on some recipes as well, but since then, Limpangug — who has almost 20 years of restaurant experience behind him — has taken the Chop Street idea and run with it.
Beyond continually fine tuning the salad/wrap recipes, Limpangug recently added well-received, house-made soups to the daily lineup.
Typically, there’s a butternut squash available along with specials such as chicken tortilla soup. He’s also working some panini into the mix, a natural fit since the crew already uses a panini grill to make focaccia croutons.
“We’ve done a lot of adjusting from the original menu,” Limpangug said. “We’re trying to work in a lot more local, farm-fresh ingredients, and we’re doing everything we can from scratch.”
That includes everything from washing and trimming down all the produce, to grilling the proteins, to whipping up batches of freshly made marinades and salad dressings.
Those dressings number about 20, by the way. The list covers basics such as blue cheese, Caesar and Thousand Island, as well as everything from buttermilk ranch to chipotle ranch, cucumber wasabi to Asian vinaigrette, cranberry vinaigrette to honey Dijon.
Things would be easier if Limpangug and his crew opted to take shortcuts — prep for the day starts at about 8 a.m. and continues at a brisk pace through midday. But he knows “our customers really appreciate the fact that we’re doing so much fresh in-house and that nothing is pre-chopped or coming from a bag. They can certainly tell the difference.”