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OMG! Ocho Mexican Grill Offers Healthy Options For Lunch

By Jenni Simcoe
Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2010, at 09:37AM
Ocho Mexican Grill Jenni Simcoe

Ocho Mexican Grill, also humorously monikered OMG, opened recently on the ground floor of Library Court at 6th and Hope. Owner Chris Zuber says the name Ocho came from the number of options diners have when picking protein for their meal and the octet of spices used in Ocho’s secret grill rub. For those familiar with chains like Chipotle, Ocho will be a familiar concept.

Diners won't have to go far to make the comparison. Not only are the menu boards and corrugated metal decor similar, but the eatery's location is three blocks from where Chipotle plans to open later this year and just two blocks from the site of the chain's Denver-based competitor, Qdoba. That fact wasn't lost on Zuber.

"We were well into construction when Chipotle chose their location," he said. "And to be honest, sure we wish we had a year or two to establish our brand before they move in, but we have already heard from our customers that our service and product is superior, in person and through Yelp reviews," he added.

Upon entering the line, customers start by choosing how they want their meal prepared: as a bowl, burrito, tacos, salad or quesadilla. After choosing the type of meal, they can move on to the protein options including grilled chicken, shredded chicken, grilled steak, shredded beef, grilled mahi mahi, grilled shrimp, carnitas and two vegetarian options of guacamole or grilled tofu.

The toppings, sauces and salsas is where Ocho looks to set itself apart. Toppings include the standard beans or rice and fajita veggies, but the grilled vegetables stand out, with grilled corn and squash providing a refreshing alternative to the heavier options.

“Richer and Michelle, our two chefs, have created some very creative gourmet sauces and salsas that you won’t find elsewhere,” Zuber explained. The hica-mango salsa, the tangy delicious agave vinaigrette and the cilantro lime sauces are stand-outs on the menu.

Zuber has been planning the concept since he visited a small taqueria in Santa Barbara several years ago. The taqueria featured the same simple approach of choosing a staple protein and adding to it. “Albeit some of the meat selection was outside of the norm for even the most courageous foodies like beef cheeks, tongue, eyes, et cetera, but having the option to try something new kept the crowd coming,” he said. Zuber took that concept and put his own spin on it with healthier and fresher mainstream protein selections.

The healthier options include alternatives including organic brown rice, whole-wheat tortillas, locally sourced produce and all natural, free-range, cruelty-free, hormone-free and antibiotic-free chicken from California’s Jidori Farms. “Using local produce helps support our local farmers, community, & environment while also creating the tastiest food possible for our customers,” said Zuber. In an effort to be environmentally friendly, the restaurant only uses compostable, tree-free packaging and plastic-free utensils made of starch.

Ocho is currently open Monday to Thursday 11am to 8:30pm and Friday 11am to 7:30pm with future plans to remain open on the weekends for downtown residents. A one-click online ordering system with delivery is also in the works.

Ocho Mexican Grill / Library Court, 6th & Hope / 888-988-OCHO / eatocho.com

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