California Chicken Cafe
(18455 Nordhoff St., Northridge, CA)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
My first visit to California Chicken Cafe may very well be my last. To sum up CCC’s Signature California Chicken Salad in one word: underwhelming. Although the salad boasts substantial volume and is accompanied by a variety of fresh vegetables, the raw broccoli and uninspired combination of unseasoned ingredients hardly justifies its $10 price tag. On a more positive note, I did appreciate receiving a half an avocado, crunchy pita croutons and enough dressing with which to drown my tastebud woes.
(9301 Tampa Ave., Northridge, CA)
Located inside a large food court of the Topanga Mall, Stone Oven was a step above the common mall-food fare. Stone Oven sets itself apart from other salad joints by featuring a gas-fed oven, modeled in the shape of a wood-fired hearth. The oven’s cooking surface is literally a stone slab, and the fresh-baked bread included with every salad was a welcomed addition. Their Southwest Caesar Salad was unique enough to appease customers, however, the dressing was a bit pedestrian. The fried tortilla strips were a nice touch, and the portion size of the salad, coupled with a hefty serving of bread, was more than enough to make this a go-to fast food option.
(17332 Ventura Blvd., Encino, CA)
The Chop Stop is a great, affordable concept. Their Cobb Chop, a twist on the traditional Cobb salad, was packed with diced avocado, bacon, fresh tomatoes and sunflower seeds tossed in a chunky bleu cheese dressing. Keeping in mind that their salads are chopped (as opposed to whole-leaf lettuce salads), the portion size coincided with the price. Although the Chop Stop is a little further from campus than Stone Oven and California Chicken Cafe, you’ll be glad you made the 10-minute drive for a healthy, filling lunch.
Verdict: CCC’s relative proximity and convenience to CSUN is as deceptive as their price point. Instead, take the extra dollar you would have spent on CCC’s uninspired menu choices, go the extra mile and take a look at the menus offered by Stone Oven or the Chop Stop.