California Monster Salads opened today on Santa Monica Blvd. and was instantly hit by a wall of customers, leaving the salad bar looking a little bit like it was picked apart by Mothra. Co-owner Stacy Simon nearly blushes when we ask to take a photo, while her positive partner Daniel Radell insists everything will be spotless tomorrow (it doesn't really look that bad in the first place). Apparently, Santa Monica has been waiting for this completely green business to bring its build-your-own-salads and salad cones to the area. Wait, did someone say "salad cones?"
Salad cones are an invention of Simon's that can only be compared to waffle cones in concept, though these cones are made of fresh bread. The point is that you can eat a salad while nibbling on the bread with a bit of salad and hold the thing in your hand. Kind of a trip, no?
If there's one thing we kind of miss about working in the infernal corporate hellhole swirling around Manhattan's 42nd Street and 6th Avenue, it's Hale & Hearty Soups and Salads, a quick-fix for salad-hungry control freaks to pick a base of pre-made lettuce and add a smattering of salad toppings to be tossed into a huge blend.
That's kind of like the archetype for California Monster Salads and its ilk, only here the organic lettuce is stored in crispers, only chopped once an order is placed ($8.50 for five toppings), and all the forks you use and plastic bowls your salad comes in are recyclable. The restaurant features both signature salads and fresh leaves for you to add toppings to, which include crumbled cheese, golden raisins, pumpkin seeds, and bacon, in addition to the usual selection. Signature creations, meanwhile, include a Fuit Wave with agave marscapone, a tuna-stuffed tomato Mermaid Medley, and Coastline Chicken with mixed greens, cucumbers, chickpeas, edamame, and pepper jack cheese. There's a lentil vegetable soup, as well as a soup of the week, which happens to be black beans with apple mango sausage right now.
In addition to selling organic energy bars, snacks, (18 Rabbits, Rice Chips) and drinks (Bing cherry soda, Zico, Adina) the small cafe makes its own kale lemonade in a couple of different flavors. We had a sip or two of one with cucumber, mint, tangerine, and apple and would do it again. Overall, Cali Monster Salads, despite the healthy slant, looks to be a monster indeed when it comes to a well-thought out approach to organics. And already, the neighbors have noticed.
California Monster Salads, 411 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica. 310-587-2523.
Earlier: California Monster Salads Crushing Santa Monica's Three Dog Bakery [Grub Street]