Fast Casual Review: Low Fat Caribbean Bowl from California Tortilla

Once upon a time, I scoffed at the idea of going for a burrito bowl over a burrito. These days, it’s not unusual for me to go without the tortilla and it’s not so bad.  I can’t really say that less carbs, calories and fat is my main reason either.  I always seem to order a side of chips and end up using them as my utensils.  I’m a big fan of Chipotle because they have very good guacamole.  California Tortilla on the other hand has very bad guacamole.  At Chipotle, my move is to scoop some guac and let it act as the spackle  for the burrito bowl dig.  At Cali Tortilla I just go guac-less and the experience is still pretty solid.  My bowl of choice at California Tortilla is the Low Fat Caribbean Bowl and guacamole isn’t needed because the mango sauce is on the main stage.

With “Low Fat” in the name, some might consider it not very tasty right off the bat.  Just because there is no cheese or sour cream doesn’t mean it’s not a tasty choice.  The Low Fat Caribbean Bowl consists of grilled marinated chicken breast, Mexican rice, black beans, low fat Caribbean mango sauce, fresh salsa and romaine. All the ingredients are generously portioned and always fresh in my experience.  Nothing really stands out as extra special except for the slightly spicy mango sauce.  The mango sauce gives the bowl a delicious balance that is light and sweet.  Combining the marinated chicken and black beans with the sweet mango sauce evens out the taste that is part Mexican food and part tropical island. It’s a nice match to combine a little fruity flavor with the likes of more traditional Mexican food staples.  All the ingredients work great together but the romaine is a bit on the boring side.  Maybe kick up a different blend of greens perhaps but I’m just being nit picky.  As I mentioned before, I love guacamole and Chipotle wins that category with flying colors.  For fast casual Mexican grub spots, I’m not sure who can compare with California Tortilla’s hot sauce selection with their “Wall of Flame”. It’s basically a shelf of 75 hot sauces with varying heat ratings to satisfy most of you chile heads out there.  If you want a little extra kick from the Low Fat Caribbean Bowl, I’d recommend adding a little Maui Mango Meltdown from the Wall of Flame and go nuts.  Just take your pick from the wall and if you enjoy it enough, you can get a fresh bottle to buy and take home.

California Tortilla's Wall of Flame

So you must know, this Caribbean Bowl is a typical order for me when going for California Tortilla.  I’ve had it a bunch of times and finally got around to sharing the info.  Unfortunately, I’ve alienated a bunch of the GrubGrade audience because California Tortilla is more of a local Mid-Atlantic fast casual chain.  Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, D.C., Delaware and Pennsylvania readers might be more familiar (locations).  The Low Fat Caribbean Bowl is a recommended choice and clocks in at under 500 calories and under 12 grams of fat.

Pros: Fresh ingredients. Tasty mango sauce with a little kick. Wall of Flame.

Cons: Romaine is a little unexciting. It's "fast casual" so a little pricier at $6.49.

Taste: 8.50/10
Value: 6.20/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 5.00/10
Price: $6.49

Overall GrubGrade: 8.25/10

More Info: CaliforniaTortilla.com
Nutrition Facts:
Low Fat Caribbean Bowl
Calories - 490
Fat - 11.66 grams
Saturated Fat - 1.62 grams
Cholesterol - 92 milligrams
Sodium - 1592 milligrams
Carbs - 51.31 grams
Dietary Fiber - 8.20 grams
Protein - 41.71 grams

5 comments on “Fast Casual Review: Low Fat Caribbean Bowl from California Tortilla

  1. Bob Smith says:

    That “Wall of Flame” makes them look like a Tijuana Flats clone.

  2. wibia says:

    +1 on Tijuana Flats. This looks exactly like Qdoba with the black tray etc… I am not a fan of fruity salsa, so I would have to skip this! Maui Mango Meltdown… funny name..

  3. Jillian says:

    You were not messing around. I thought that much hot sauce only existed in my wildest dreams. Amazing.

  4. Adam says:

    I like ‘fruity’ salsa. My dining hall does a good tomato and pinapple jalepno salsa that goes well with their tacos.

  5. Raiders757 says:

    I need to try this place out sometime. The same with Chipotle. Problem is, there are far too many good family run Mexican joints between my home and their places of business.