California Pizza Kitchen does it right

The name might say California and yes, there is a palm tree in their logo, but don’t let the name (or logo) fool you. California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) isn’t one of those places that forces the d�cor to match a theme a la every other restaurant that follows the “random-junk-on-the-walls-just-to-seem-like-we’re classy” trend. With CPK just starting to move into the area, don’t be the last one to find out just how good this place really is.

California Pizza Kitchen follows a simple formula: make the customers experience as enjoyable as possible. It might seem easy, but then again, how many times have you been somewhere where they completely drop the ball on that one?

CPK offers the perfect place to go for lunch but ends up being more of an experience than just an eatery. It’s a sit-down restaurant that still manages to offer a laid-back feeling with its bright colors and an extremely casual environment. Instead of restaurants with dim looks (again with the “random-junk-attached-to-the-walls locales) and a visit that basically amounts to “I want food and then I want to leave," CPK just seems more relaxed in its mood. It’s the perfect place to grab a pizza and a beer (frosted glasses!) before heading back to the workplace.

While the casual environment is great for a little break from the job, it doesn’t affect the service. You’re greeted warmly both by the hostess and your server and the mood seems to only be reinforced by the service. They won’t hound you, but they’re conscientious about being sure to take care of you. Even if it’s something as small as swinging by to let you know they didn’t forget about you and your food will be up soon – every bit counts.

Oh yeah, and then there’s the food, I guess you’d like to know about that. Obviously, California Pizza Kitchen is known for its pizza and there’s quite a selection (you may have noticed the word “Pizza” in their name). But outside of the numerous pies they have to offer, there is plenty of other options on the menu and it doesn’t all revolve around Italian cuisine (though that is, admittedly, a good portion of it). The size of the pizzas aren’t a joke either (they’re not like the “personal pan” pizzas from Pizza Hut that don’t even fill a 4 year-old) but they’re also not a full pie. They’re right in that range where someone with a larger appetite can eat one and be reasonably full and a light eater can take a couple of small pieces home for a snack later.

The one hiccup of the whole experience might be the price. Some people have an idea of places to grab lunch and see it as a $7-$8 trip, and CPK will definitely be higher than that. Their pizzas will run around $12 not including any drinks you might want, but considering you end up full and the quality of the food, it’s worth it if you can spare the money.

California Pizza Kitchen is a great place for a meal. It's a casual and relaxed meal without a hassle. Try their famous barbecue chicken pizza, the chipotle pizza or their Thai pizza. The list goes on, (over 30 choices from traditional to those you wouldn’t have thought of) and you’re sure to find something you can be glad you ordered.

The hardest part, really, is resisting the temptation to order another beer and get back to work.

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