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A new restaurant in Vestavia City Center wants to transform the way you eat by creating salads that people will actually crave, and they find ingredients from all over the world to keep their ever-changing menu interesting. Chopt officially opened in January with its first day of business benefitting Jones Valley Teaching Farm, and you can stop by for a meal Monday – Saturday 10:30 a.m.- 8 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. To learn more about the restaurant concept, we chatted with their regional VP Tina Young.

What’s the back story on Chopt and what it’s about?

Best friends Tony Shure and Colin McCabe wanted great craveable healthy food, and they opened their first restaurant on 17th Street in New York City in 2001. We are a healthy alternative to a fast-casual. We change up our menus every three months and bring different flavors from around the world into our restaurants for people to try.

Can you talk more about international flavor influences?

We have a team that travels for inspiration and brings the tastiest creations back to us. Our destination changes every 90 days. We currently have a crispy Cholula Chicken Salad, Shrimp Taco Salad, and Roasted Poblano Bowl for destination Mexico.

What is the inside of the restaurant like?

It’s bright and welcoming. Our wallpaper is custom, so for every location we bring something from there area into the design. The Summit is the Vulcan, and Vestavia is the Sibyl Temple.

You come in and go to the assembly station and order a chef creation or build your own.

We will build our salad or warm bowl for you, and then we mix your salad with a dressing pairing. We ask you how much dressing, and if it’s not enough we can add more.

Can you tell us about a couple of your most popular menu items?

Our Mexican Caesar is one of our most popular. It’s our spin on Caesar with a kick with romaine, cojita cheese, tortilla chips and jalapenos and tossed with our Mexican Caesar dressing, and you can add a protein to it. For proteins we offer grilled chicken, fried chicken, shrimp, falafel and tofu, as well as a destination chicken like Cholula fried chicken that is named for a hot sauce. Our Chicken Tinga is one of our most popular warm bowls with a mixture of rice and quinoa or cauliflower rice. Our braised chicken tinga is served with marinated kale, black beans, cojita cheese, tortilla chips, scallions and avocado, and we top it with our scratch-made Mexican goddess dressing, an avocado-based dressing that is phenomenal.

What else should we know about the menu?

Any of our salads can be made into wraps as well, and we make all 18 of our dressings every day from scratch. We have a Tex Mex Ranch and Sweet and Smokey Chipotle, White Balsamic Vinaigrette, Greek Yogurt Tzaziki, Creamy Lemon Herb, Buttermilk Ranch, Smoky Bacon Russian to name a few. I personally love the Mexican Caesar best. Our kids menu has mac n cheese, quesadippers, chicken dippers, kids craft salad, a kids craft warm bowl or a kids craft plate, and they call come with a side of chips, cookie, brownie, apple or carrots with hummus.