By Charly SHELTON
I’m not a huge fan of salads. I eat them when I have to, but it’s very rare that I will order a salad as an entrée over another kind of food. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with salads; I just usually go for the burger or something with a little more intensity. That being said, I have found an intense salad place.
I can count on one hand the number of salad specialty shops that I would choose to go to. One is in Dallas, Texas, one is in downtown Los Angeles amid a flurry of traffic, and the most recent addition to the list is just a few minutes down the road in Glendale. Chop Stop is located along Glendale Avenue in the IHOP/Swains/Honeybaked Ham shopping center, just off the 134 Freeway.
The Chop Stop menu provides guests with the chance to make their own salad to suit their own tastes or choose from one of several premade combinations that, if I’m honest, are better than anything I could come up. And, and as the name suggests, all of the salads at Chop Stop are chopped fine so they can be eaten with a spoon.
I was invited down to sample some of the offerings from the menu and I was impressed, so much so that I recently went back again on my own. On the most recent trip, I built my own salad. With over 49 million possible combinations of greens, proteins, beans and grains, veggies and fruits, crunches and cheese, and an assortment of dressings, there are more options than any one person could try. I made a salad with iceberg lettuce, hard-boiled egg, barbecue chicken, tuna salad, bacon, bell peppers, corn, celery, crispy onions, feta cheese and garlic tahini dressing. It sounded a lot better in my head. I think it was the combination of barbecue and tuna salad that threw me.
From now on, I’ll just stick to the “Menu Chops” because these premade salads have the perfect combinations. I tried several of these the first time I was invited down and was not disappointed. The barbecue chop has double barbecue chicken, tomato, black beans, corn, tortilla strips and ranch dressing, and is a nice middle-of-the-road salad. Everyone has had a barbecue chicken salad before, and this salad definitely hits the spot when you’re in the mood for one. Quite possibly my favorite type of salad, the Cobb salad, is available as well with roasted chicken, bacon, avocado, hard-boiled egg, tomato, sunflower seeds and bleu cheese dressing. My feeling with the Cobb is that no matter where you go, it’s decent. If you are in a sketchy diner on the outskirts of Las Vegas at 3 a.m. and you are afraid of the food coming out of the kitchen, the Cobb salad is always a safe bet. It’s very hard to find any version that is a standout, either being very good or very bad, because everybody and their mother make it. But this one actually does stand out from the crowd because not only is it a super light and well composed version of the Cobb, but it feels so uniform all the way through because it is chopped fine and tossed well.
Those salads were great, but the one that really got to me was the Viva Mexico Chop. If I’m not a huge fan of salads to begin with, I especially dislike taco salad. When owner Mark Kukis suggested I try their bestselling salad, the Viva Mexico, I was not looking forward to it. Boy, was I wrong. This salad has the perfect combination of roasted chicken, cheddar cheese, tomato, black beans, jalapenos, tortilla strips and creamy chipotle dressing. It has a certain quality that, despite my linguistic ability, cannot be described. Of all the salads that I’ve tried, this one is hands-down my absolute favorite. It’s spicy, it’s a little sweet, it’s light, it’s the perfect combination. Believe me, I’m as shocked as you are and I see why it’s the number one bestseller.
Chop Stop is located at 601 N. Glendale Ave. in Glendale, with other locations in Burbank, Encino, West Hollywood, Studio City and Rancho Cucamonga. I thoroughly enjoyed eating at Chop Stop and I will return soon, hungry for more.