Dining Out Paleo: Border Grill

Welcome to my Thursday series: Dining Out Paleo
Thursdays I post a recent dining out experience and how I chose the best possible options to stay true to a whole foods diet, opting for the freshest and most nutrient dense foods while avoiding grains, sugars, dairy, and soy to the best of my ability.  Unless informed otherwise, I always assume that the restaurant uses vegetable/canola oils for cooking. 
Every time I am in Santa Monica, I walk by Border Grill on my way to stock up my spice cabinet at the nearby Penzeys Spices on 4th Street.  I have told myself repeatedly that I need to stop in sometime and see what Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger are all about.  My second round of LA food touring afforded me a small sampling of Susan Feniger's Street and it was then Border Grill was bumped up on the "to try ASAP" list.  ASAP turned into a half year later, but it was well worth the wait and I could definitely go back knowing I don't have to stress over finding something incredibly tasty and Paleo-compliant on the menu.
Border Grill is a member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, sources seasonal and locally ingredients when possible, and uses organic beef and lamb and uncured pork raised without hormones or antibiotics.
So how did my Border Grill experience transpire?  For the first time in a while of Dining Out Paleo posts, I did NOT order a salad.  There were just so many other delicious options to which I was drawn.  Upscale Mexican food does mean sifting through the menu to get past all of the corn, beans, and cheese, but Border Grill offered plenty of other selections with not much hunting or creative ordering required.
I started with a fabulously refreshing glass of Naranjada.  I couldn't say it, but I happily drank it.  Fresh squeezed orange juice, lemon, lime, and sparkling water.  I'm not sure why I didn't take a picture, but believe me when I say it is even tastier than it sounds.
Before arriving at Border Grill, I had done a quick review of the menu and from that moment I was pretty certain nothing was going to convince me to order anything other than ceviche.  
I LOVE ceviche.  That zesty tang of the lime juice and the fresh flavor and texture of the fish... it reminds me of many-a-beach vacation basking in the warm sun with crystal blue waters lapping at my toes; Sol beer in hand.  Since I'm pretty picky about my raw fish eatings and prefer to consume it at reputable restaurants that are geographically located by an ocean, this was the perfect opportunity to have at it!  I was tempted toward the Ceviche Trio, but indulged my Mexico vacation fantasy awhile longer and stuck with an order of the Baja Ceviche.

Crunchy onions, smooth marinated fish, creamy avocado.  Heavenly.  My hankering was happily satisfied.  The fish was served on top of a corn tostada which remained on the plate, but if I wasn't in the company of friends I might have found myself licking the juices from it.  I promise I didn't it.  I'm not that uncouth in public.  Most of the time.
I also decided to seek out a selection of veggies that would round out my lunch and happened to spot a side order of caramelized Brussels sprouts.  
I assumed they were going to be delicious in their own right, then our waitress informed me that the little guys are prepared with chipotle spiced bacon.  A thousand times, YES, bring me those Brussels!

Delicious they were.  I wanted to eat them all.  There were just so many.  A few made them onto the plates of friends.  And the rest went home to Matt.  I couldn't have been more thrilled with my lunch selection.  Border Grill was certainly what I was hoping for.

A nice addition to the menu is options for diners that may not necessarily be Paleo, but prefer to (or must) eat a gluten-free diet.  There are items that are labeled gluten-free, can be made gluten-free, and even meals that are 80% or more plant based.  How cool is that?  
I'd like to add that after swiping a nibble of my friend's skirt steak, I will be returning just to order that dish.  Actually, there are a whole slew of menu goodies I want to go back to try.  And it may not be Mexico and the water may not be crystal blue, but the beach IS a short walk away from the restaurant for toe-dipping and a short mental vacation.  Good enough for me!

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