When you’re busy with shuttling the kids to and from school, soccer practice, and playdates, sometimes it’s hard to resist giving in to the temptation of fast food. It’s nearly impossible to find a healthy, organic fast food option, so in a bind we turn to the worst–McDonald’s or (slightly better) In-N-Out Burger. Chef Jonathan Rollo understands our dilemma, and he’s the mastermind delivering LA-based Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop to Orange County where all of the ingredients are fresh, organic and locally grown (their greens are grown in Ventura County and coffee roasted at LAMill). Named one of the “best new restaurants” by Los Angeles Magazine in 2009, this wildly popular Beverly Hills joint has drawn a celebrity following including eco-conscious, celebrity mompreneur Jessica Alba. In the spirit of green living all year long, it’s time to green our fast food grubbing.

Costa Mesa is Greenleaf’s third and largest location that is spaciously decked with relaxed, vintage décor, and a huge outdoor deck perfect for the kids to enjoy their evening out.  There’s also a Chef’s garden where the curious, restless little ones can roam around and explore organically grown herbs and veggies.  For moms in a bind looking for a quick, healthy bite, call ahead (online ordering coming soon) and pick-up curbside!

While there’s no official kids menu, but they can whip up a grilled cheese sandwich, fruit salad, or cheese pizza.  But in all honesty, most of the items on the menu are kid-friendly and any of these items will be a healthy, tasty hit: Tomato Basil Soup, Turkey Melt on Pretzel Bread, Turkey Meatball Sub with Basil, and the Ahi Burger…be sure to add the baked sweet potato fries as a side.  You might want to avoid the pizzas for the little ones since they are packed with more adult flavors that the kiddos might not be used to.  Whether you are getting curbside or dining in, Greenleaf will revolutionize the way you and your kiddos think about fast food. Yes, fast food can be healthy, organic, and locally grown!

Insider Tip: Make your dollars count and sign up for the loyalty program. For every $200 spent at Greenleaf, you get $10 off your next eligible purchase.

Gardening Classes for Kids: Let the little ones nurture their green thumbs and allow their organic Greenleaf experience to come full circle at these gardening classes. Designed to teach the kiddos about vegetable and herb gardening, they will get to tour the restaurant’s organic garden and plant their very own vegetable or herb plant to take home! Classes are offered every Saturday morning at 10:00 am for ages 7 – 13 at $20 per child.  Call ahead to sign up.

What to do nearby: After a long, leisurely dinner, bring that positive eco-conscious energy to Newport Beach! It’s just a few blocks away, and a great place for the kiddos to run around and watch the sun set.

Menu Highlights:
The Antioxidant Orchard – scarborough farms baby mixed greens, grapes, celery, apples, walnuts, dried cranberries, mint, blue cheese, cucumbers, strawberries, blueberries, and pomegranate with whole grain mustard vinaigrette, $10.95
Zorra The Great – romaine lettuce, baby arugula, tomatoes, feta, olives, pita chips, hummus, marinated artichokes with garlic herb vinaigrette, $10
Breakfast Pizza – spicy turkey sausage, potatoes, goat cheese, arugula, pecorino and sunny side up egg, $10
Breakfast Sandwich – chicken, portobello mushroom, egg white, cheddar, onions, truffled spinach, served with a side salad, $10
Turkey Melt On Pretzel Bread – $9.95
Ahi Burger – $ market price
Pan Roasted Salmon Filet – served with two sides, $ market price
Baked Sweet Potato Frieds w/ Avocado Pesto – $4
Truffled Potato Salad w/ Turkey Bacon – $4
Quinoa Salad – $4
Tomato Basil Soup – $3.50

Sunday – Wednesday: 8:00 am to 9:00 pm
Thursday – Saturday: 8:00 am to 10:00 pm

234 East 17th Street, Costa Mesa
(949) 200-3950
Online: greenleafchopshop.com

When you don’t want to nosh on fast food where do you opt for a healthier (but equally as fast) meal? 

— Sommy Rhee

photos courtesy of Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop via Facebook, AngryJulieMonday and Linda Åslund via Flickr