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Crafted Greens better than the typical salad spot

Hot sandwiches and carefully sourced ingredients add to El Cajon eatery’s charms

Spicy Asian salad with cajun seared ahi, romaine, mesclun, carrots, mandarin oranges, green onions, spicy roasted almonds, bean sprouts, crispy wonton strips, cilantro, and miso ginger sesame dressing
Spicy Asian salad with cajun seared ahi, romaine, mesclun, carrots, mandarin oranges, green onions, spicy roasted almonds, bean sprouts, crispy wonton strips, cilantro, and miso ginger sesame dressing

When was the last time I ordered a salad this far east? Usually, I’m in El Cajon for Middle Eastern food, or a cheeseburger. But here I am, out on Jamacha Road, which is technically farther east than Poway, or San Pasqual Valley, and the produce is irresistible.

Place

Crafted Greens

745 Jamacha Road, El Cajon

The restaurant is Crafted Greens, and I’ve successfully avoided it for a while. Not due to its location, but because there are always other restaurants to try, and I can always talk myself out of going for salad. But now I’m kicking myself, because this counter shop is way more than a glorified salad bar.

Sponsored
Sponsored

I don’t know how many among us have a food ethos, as this shop claims, but if you count yourself among the food ethical, this place is for you. A map on the eatery’s web site shows you where in California its produce come from: berries from Salinas, lettuce from Oxnard, tomatoes from Ramona. But it’s not strictly vegan or even vegetarian. It also promises eggs from local farms, grass-fed beef, free range chicken, and sustainable seafood.

A scratch kitchen counter shop with its own "food ethos"

Cajun seared ahi tuna, for example. Salads start at 11 bucks, with the option to add one of the proteins for another $4. It looks like a conventional bunch: there’s a kale Caesar, a niçoise, and a cobb with avocado. A Mexican-style salad includes corn, black beans, and cilantro; the Mediterranean chopped salad includes chick peas and olives. Most outlandish would be the autumn pear, featuring mesclun, spinach, and spicy roasted almonds; or the Thai salad soba noodles, mint, and edamame.

The cajun seasoned ahi wouldn’t sound like a match for the “Spicy Asian”, which might usually be served as a Chinese chicken salad. But we braved the mix and match approach to determine mandarin orange slices, cayenne seared tuna, and wonton strips do play well together. More to the point, the ingredients are all so fresh and tasty, you could slip in just about any spice and it would feel right.

A grilled steak sandwich with chimichurri and roasted tomato, add avocado

Besides, to experience these seasoned proteins in their more natural settings, you may simply order one of the $11 hot sandwiches. For example, that grilled to order steak on a ciabatta with arugula, slow roasted tomatoes, chimichurri sauce, and roasted garlic aioli. I don’t even like arugula, but it certainly plays its role on this meaty, herbal feast. Why was I avoiding this place again?

Elsewhere, the so-called Tuscan salmon gets sandwiches up with basil pesto aioli, or you can get the same thing swapping the fish for both grilled mushrooms and zucchini. The counter shop also features 10 dollar flat breads, $16 grilled plates with a litany of side dishes ranging from mac n cheese to brussels sprouts, soups, and desserts.

In other words, there’s no reason to be afraid of salads here. But you should really try the salads.

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Spicy Asian salad with cajun seared ahi, romaine, mesclun, carrots, mandarin oranges, green onions, spicy roasted almonds, bean sprouts, crispy wonton strips, cilantro, and miso ginger sesame dressing
Spicy Asian salad with cajun seared ahi, romaine, mesclun, carrots, mandarin oranges, green onions, spicy roasted almonds, bean sprouts, crispy wonton strips, cilantro, and miso ginger sesame dressing

When was the last time I ordered a salad this far east? Usually, I’m in El Cajon for Middle Eastern food, or a cheeseburger. But here I am, out on Jamacha Road, which is technically farther east than Poway, or San Pasqual Valley, and the produce is irresistible.

Place

Crafted Greens

745 Jamacha Road, El Cajon

The restaurant is Crafted Greens, and I’ve successfully avoided it for a while. Not due to its location, but because there are always other restaurants to try, and I can always talk myself out of going for salad. But now I’m kicking myself, because this counter shop is way more than a glorified salad bar.

Sponsored
Sponsored

I don’t know how many among us have a food ethos, as this shop claims, but if you count yourself among the food ethical, this place is for you. A map on the eatery’s web site shows you where in California its produce come from: berries from Salinas, lettuce from Oxnard, tomatoes from Ramona. But it’s not strictly vegan or even vegetarian. It also promises eggs from local farms, grass-fed beef, free range chicken, and sustainable seafood.

A scratch kitchen counter shop with its own "food ethos"

Cajun seared ahi tuna, for example. Salads start at 11 bucks, with the option to add one of the proteins for another $4. It looks like a conventional bunch: there’s a kale Caesar, a niçoise, and a cobb with avocado. A Mexican-style salad includes corn, black beans, and cilantro; the Mediterranean chopped salad includes chick peas and olives. Most outlandish would be the autumn pear, featuring mesclun, spinach, and spicy roasted almonds; or the Thai salad soba noodles, mint, and edamame.

The cajun seasoned ahi wouldn’t sound like a match for the “Spicy Asian”, which might usually be served as a Chinese chicken salad. But we braved the mix and match approach to determine mandarin orange slices, cayenne seared tuna, and wonton strips do play well together. More to the point, the ingredients are all so fresh and tasty, you could slip in just about any spice and it would feel right.

A grilled steak sandwich with chimichurri and roasted tomato, add avocado

Besides, to experience these seasoned proteins in their more natural settings, you may simply order one of the $11 hot sandwiches. For example, that grilled to order steak on a ciabatta with arugula, slow roasted tomatoes, chimichurri sauce, and roasted garlic aioli. I don’t even like arugula, but it certainly plays its role on this meaty, herbal feast. Why was I avoiding this place again?

Elsewhere, the so-called Tuscan salmon gets sandwiches up with basil pesto aioli, or you can get the same thing swapping the fish for both grilled mushrooms and zucchini. The counter shop also features 10 dollar flat breads, $16 grilled plates with a litany of side dishes ranging from mac n cheese to brussels sprouts, soups, and desserts.

In other words, there’s no reason to be afraid of salads here. But you should really try the salads.

Sponsored
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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