A Neighborhood Gem: California Chicken Café


While pregnant with both my daughters I craved healthy food.  Fortunately, I lived near a California Chicken Café and at least once a week, I’d pick up a Rotisserie chicken with sides or one of their delicious wrap sandwiches.

Years later, I happily discovered the original California Chicken Café across the street from my office.  Since the food is fresh and reasonably priced, I grab a wrap to-go once a week.

Talking with one of the owners, I learned that he and another USC graduate opened the first California Chicken Café on Melrose Avenue in 1991. They were hoping to open a casual restaurant that served good food at low prices. They wanted it to be a comfortable place for people eating alone or with friends.  

When they were building the Melrose restaurant, a neighbor came in inquiring.  He was hoping a Taco Bell or fast food restaurant would go in. “Everything at this location has failed,” he told them. “There is no foot traffic, no parking on the side streets and everyone shops west of La Brea,” he uttered disappointingly. About a month after they opened, the same man came in and walked up to the owners. With a huge smile on his face he said “I’m not surprised you guys are doing so well, the neighborhood needed something really good, congratulations.”

The most popular item to order is their ¼ white-meat chicken with two side dishes ($9).  The chicken is so moist and flavorful.  It’s served with white or whole-wheat pita bread.  One of the most preferred side dishes is the freshly steamed orange squash. It’s fat-free and extremely satisfying. Another delicious side dish is the hot red potatoes with sautéed onions, garlic and seasonings.  Don’t forget to get a couple containers of their fresh salsa.  Honestly, it’s the best salsa in town.  I put this salsa on almost everything I order.  It’s house made and lip smacking good.

My preference of the wrap sandwiches is the combo wrap with chicken, guacamole, jack cheese, sprouts, Italian dressing, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Fat-free mayo, mustard and green onions are available upon request.  All wraps can be prepared with white or whole-wheat pita bread.  They are all made to order.  You won’t see any wraps sitting in a refrigeration cabinet.

Another beloved sandwich is their Chinese wrap with chicken, crunchy Chinese noodles, Chinese dressing, shredded carrots, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.  It’s superb. They even offer a Veggie wrap for those who don’t eat meat.  California Chicken Café didn’t invent wraps, yet they sure have popularized them.  It’s an ideal lunch for those on the go, because it requires no utencils.  Just peel the paper and take a bite.  Wraps range from $6.25 to $7.75.

Also on their menu are six salads made to order. The Chinese Chicken salad is similar to the wrap but with romaine lettuce, almonds, plain pasta, and Mandarin oranges ($9) and they offer a low-calorie Veggie ($7.25) or Caesar salad ($6.25).  The owners are currently working on bringing two new salads to their menu, possibly a Southwest style salad and Chicken curry salad.  These will be offered in a wrap too.

Planning a holiday celebration? California Chicken Café caters small parties up to 800 people.  During Nordstrom’s big half-yearly sale, California Chicken Café delivers chicken, wraps and salads every couple of hours to feed more than 600 employees on that busy day.

It may not be an ideal first date restaurant, but is a terrific 3rd or 4th date place for a healthy lunch, picnic meal or dinner that will cost under $10.

Visit one of the seven California Chicken Cafes in the Los Angeles area.  But beware, the food is addicting. 6805 Melrose Ave, Hollywood (323)935-5877, 2401 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica (310)453-0477, 2005 Westwood Blvd. (310)446-1933, 424 Lincoln Blvd. Venice (310)392-3500, 15601 Ventura Blvd. Encino (818)789-8056, 18445 Nordhoff St. Northridge (818)700-9977, 22333 Ventura Blvd. Woodland Hills (818)716-6170. Price: $

Featured in the Park LaBrea News/Beverly Press via A Neighborhood Gem: California Chicken Café.

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