A representative from Moe’s Southwest Grill contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I’d like a ride from the airport on Moe’s Rock N’ Roll Tour Bus to my hotel for BlogHer Food. I clicked on over to Moe’s website to get some information about the chain. When I read about some of the company's sustainability efforts, I accepted the offer.

Once on the bus, Moe’s President Paul Damico, Executive Chef Daniel Barash, and other Moe’s representatives greeted me. After being offered a light snack of roasted corn salsa, pico, and tortilla chips and a little white wine, I had a chance to speak with Barash about Moe’s menu.

Barash has been working to create a menu that uses fresh produce, hormone-free, cage-free meat options, and healthy ingredients that never include MSG or trans-fats. The Moe’s wheel has some specifics on the ingredients.

 

As a fast-food restaurant, the need for consistency throughout the restaurants is important. Moe’s doesn’t boast local or organic ingredients (except for their tofu which is always organic). However, Barash told me that sometimes the ingredients are local or organic. Since the company can’t use those ingredients in every restaurant throughout the entire year, they don’t market themselves in that way.

I have to respect that. I’ve been at a chain restaurant that smacks its customers over the head with the word local, but when I asked about specific ingredients that I knew were in season, I was told they weren’t available. I’d much rather a restaurant (or any company that’s marketing its sustainable/green efforts) market only what they honestly are able to consistently achieve.

When I arrived home from my trip, my family used a Moe's gift certificate for dinner that evening. (It was included in a bag of goodies that Moe’s gave me.) We ordered various burritos, tacos and the like. Each item was built to order so every person could choose exactly what he wanted for dinner. The food was good, certainly a few steps above normal fast-food fare. I immediately dove into the roasted corn salsa that I had enjoyed so much on the bus, and my 11-year-old and I kept having to get up to get more of it from the all-you-can eat salsa bar.

The portions at Moe’s are huge. Everyone except my husband had food to take home and eat the next day. The leftovers made perfect after-school snacks for the boys.

Moe’s is working to cater to those with special dietary needs.

Vegetarians can order their tortillas stuffed with organic tofu, shredded cheese and sour cream free of gelatin and animal rennet, and grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms prepared on a totally separate grill from the meat products.

Customers looking for gluten-free options can choose from 20 gluten-free ingredients including the tortilla shells. Even the meat and tofu are prepared gluten-free at Moe’s.

After dining at Moe’s, I do have a couple of changes I’d like to see at the restaurant.

  • Healthier beverage choices. The mainstream soda fountain provides most of the choices with bottled water and iced-tea rounding out the choices. It would be good to see some organic beverage choices or natural, 100 percent juices.
  • Less-stuffed tortillas. I don’t mind a large portion when the leftovers can be taken home and eaten the next day. I do mind when a tortilla is so incredibly stuffed that a lot of the ingredients fall out when you try to eat it. My son’s taco from the kid’s menu contained so much filling that it couldn’t be eaten without scraping off some of the excess. It was extraordinarily messy, and a menu-item with built in food waste isn’t in keeping with the company's sustainability goals.
I’d like to thank Moe’s for the rock-star treatment they gave me on the ride from the airport and for the gift certificate that made it possible for me to not have to cook dinner the moment I got home after my return flight.

Have you eaten at Moe’s? If you haven’t, does the information I’ve given you make you want to check it out? 

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