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Food Review: Goatocado Plants Its Popular Eats in the Fan 

click to enlarge Goatocado’s patio is expansive and a popular hangout for the lunch crowd.

Scott Elmquist

Goatocado’s patio is expansive and a popular hangout for the lunch crowd.

On a warm and sunny day, the patio is the place to be.

What began as a popular food truck, ubiquitous at events across town, Goatocado opened a permanent spot in the fall on West Main Street. The menu expands beyond its popular quinoa bowls while staying true to its mission of fresh, sustainable and locally focused food — and lots of avocado.

On a recent evening, the weather is nice and the patio is in full swing, with diners — and a couple of dogs — enjoying the sunlight. Inside, the restaurant is bright, crisp and clean, with plenty of seating and a bar that’s perfect for grabbing a quick meal alone.

Ordering can be a little confusing on the first visit for some. But it’s fast-casual standard: You tell the folks behind the counter what you want — and when there’s a line, knowing what you want ahead of time is key. Tip: The menus are stashed right next to the cash register. Diners are given a number, and when your food is ready, you pick it up from the counter.

My companion and I try the Californian, one of Goatocado’s longtime staples, on house-made naan bread ($8.75). It’s a refreshing mix of black beans, apple, corn and smoked Gouda, with a chipotle dressing and plenty of avocado on top. You can add chicken for some additional protein ($2.75) if you want to move beyond vegetarian. The flavors blend well, and Goatocado makes its naan fresh each morning. It’s a little hard to eat, although the bread does make the dish extra filling.

I order the Italian, and it arrives over mac ’n’ cheese ($8.75). While good and hearty by itself, mac ’n’ cheese seems a bit odd as base for a bowl. The beans, squash, Brussels sprouts and avocado don’t work for me on top of the cheesy pasta.

On another visit, I try the Thai broth — a Vietnamese variety is the other choice — over wheat noodles. It’s simultaneously refreshing and filling, and packed full of vegetables: purple cabbage, bean sprouts and mushrooms ($8.75). You can add chicken ($2.75) or a fried egg ($1.50) for extra flavor and protein. But while the broth is authentic, the flavor seems thin.

During the day, the place is busy, with lots of people picking up food or meeting for lunch. It’s constantly buzzing and most seats are full — diners seem to linger a little longer at dinner, especially on the patio. The food comes out quickly, and you can tell it’s been well-prepped so that the ingredients only need to be put together in quinoa or broth bowls after you order.

I also find local beer on tap — a good addition when offering dinner service — or you can opt for one of its house-made teas. The mint and lime tea is a must — it’s crisp and refreshing, especially on a warm day. Just don’t drink it too quickly — you’re charged for refills.

Goatocado’s original bowls over quinoa and greens still seem crowd favorites, and I think they’re the best bet when you’re deciding what to order. The newer options are just a little hit or miss. Lunch shines, but something about the menu leaves me a little unsatisfied after my two dinners there. Perhaps it’s the lack of table service, giving it the feel more of a trendy fast-food restaurant.

Still, it’s a great option when looking for a healthy, light meal. It’s difficult to find a fast-casual restaurant in the Fan with good seating, especially outside, and that might be the most appealing part of the spot. Goatocado clearly is doing something right — the constant flow of people proves its popularity on each visit. S

Goatocado
Tuesdays-Thursdays 11-9 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays 11-10 p.m.;
Sundays 11-7 p.m.
1823 W. Main St.
464-8226
goatocado.com

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