Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill, a healthier version of Chipotle
One of the biggest food trends that will continue for the next couple years is the growth of Chipotle style “Build your own dish” concept restaurants. Some restaurants have failed miserably at this concept, like Burrissimo, while others have shined, like Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill.
Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill brings a healthy focus to the quick service restaurant space. What I really liked is that they bake their own pitas every morning and make their own hummus, sauces and tabbouleh. Most quick service restaurants source out many of these ingredients.
The restaurant started six years ago in Greenwood Village, Colorado and over the past six years, they have expanded to nine different states. Most recently they have expanded into Orange County with locations in Aliso Viejo and the newest at the Woodbury Town Center in Irvine. I recently visited the newest location at the Woodbury Town Center and discovered why Garbanzo has developed a cult following among locals.
How it works:
First, pick your dish
The basic format of this build your own Mediterranean restaurant is to first decide your dish type. Pick either a pita, plate, of laffa. The Laffa is served in the classic burrito format, using the classic Mediterranean flat bread similar to a thick tortilla. The build your own dish is priced at $6.99 – $7.49, depending on what you order. Considering the amount of food you get, I think this is a great deal.
The pita is what is sounds like, a build your own Pita. The plate is a deconstructed version of the pita, yes it is pretty simple
Pick your protein
Once to pick your dish format, then you pick the main ingredient of your dish. If you are like me, you will go for the chicken or beef shwarma. I ordered a combination of chicken and beef. If you are vegetarian the falafel and hummus are delicious. If you want something light, I recommend the portobello.
Pick your sides/filling
Next, you pick which fillers your want squeezed in your pita or laffa. If you ordered the plate, they will arrange the sides around your protein.
Your options include the tabbouleh, pickled red cabbage, babaganoush, red onions, pickles and vegetable salad, rice, feta cheese, kalamata olives and roasted eggplant. Be sure to check the labels there are a couple items like egg have a small surcharge.
Pick your sauces
You also have your choice of sauces served in your dish or on the side. You can get as many of the sauces that you want, so I personally recommend that you get them all. The sauces available are tahini, Mediterranean garlic sauce, red chili sauce, and tzatiki.
My recommendation for maximum enjoyment
Everyone has their own preference how they should eat their Garbanzo creation. Some folks love the fully constructed pita or laffa, no work and no mess. I personally prefer getting my hands messy and constructing my own pita.
If you get the plate, ask them to cut open your pita, so that you can stuff it yourself. Here is the secret, you get more food when you order the plate. I suggest you order extra pita and you can fully load them with both meats, vegetables and sauces.
In addition to the make your own dish, Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill also serves fire roasted chicken and beef kabobs. They are served with green and red peppers. The meats are marinated in their secret rosemary sauce, grilled, and served on a bed of seasoned rice, vegetables and hummus. Kabobs cost $9.99. They also offer salads that run $6.99 – $7.49.
My Final Thoughts
If you are looking for a quick and healthy meal, I suggest you try out Garbanzo. When I visited, I over indulged and still left without feeling the pregnant belly syndrome. For the quality of the house made food, this is a really good deal.
Orange County Locations
Woodbury Town Center – 6278 Irvine Blvd. Irvine, CA 92620
26541 Aliso Creek Rd. Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
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