A Lecture + Restaurant Review: Al Horno Lean Mexican Kitchen

For the most part, I bring my own breakfasts and lunches into the office. I work smack dab in the middle of Times Square and Rockefeller Center- so you could say that the food options in these parts tend to be a bit overpriced.

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Look at it this way. An egg sandwich + a coffee for breakfast probably sets you back at least $6. A standard sandwich or salad for lunch at a Metro Café type joint goes for around $8- without a soda or a bag of chips or any other extras. Bye bye $15. Do that 5 days a week- bye bye $75. That’s $300 a month on breakfasts and lunches. No thanks.

At the beginning of each week, I buy myself 5 Greek yogurts (Key Foods always has one brand per week that’s on sale for $1), 5 bananas (4 for a dollar from my neighborhood fruit stand man outside of the subway station) and a box of granola (free, if I’ve recently visited my Grandma, or $5 for a box of Kashi Go Lean Crunch that lasts me 7 days). Total cost? Around $12. 5 fruit and yogurt parfait breakfasts #BOOM. 3ish days a week I’ll get a $1 McCafe coffee instead of making it in the office (Don’t judge…the stuff is actually pretty good!) So instead of spending $30 a week on breakfast and coffee, I spend around $12. Instead of $120 a month- $48.

Math is fun, no? $1,440 is the price you could pay to buy breakfast and coffee every weekday morning (yeah, we’re not even getting into your weekend spend habits here…). Me? I’ll spend around $576.

Lunch, obviously, is even more expensive- both to buy ingredients for if you’re making your own, or to purchase out somewhere. It’s also harder to plan something quick and easy to bring in from home, and therefore, from time to time, I do find myself looking for some healthier grab and go options in the midtown area.

While browsing LivingSocial, which I’m guilty of doing more than is probably normal, I came across a deal for a place called “Al Horno LeanMexican Kitchen.” Lean? Mexican? And in midtown? That was definitely happening.

For $6, I received a $12 gift card to Al Horno Lean Mexican Kitchen. After a crazyyy 11-day work week, I decided to treat myself and walked over to 417 West 47th Street (between 9th & 10th Avenues) for some delicious, healthy, Mexican lunch. At least, that’s what I was hoping was in store for me!

(The walk over was so pretty!)

I had perused the menu plenty before I went, always wanting to be prepared! The best part about it, is that it is so customizable. Any of their burritos and vegetarian burritos can be made into a salad or rice bowl- hold the tortilla! Brown rice can be substituted for quinoa!
There are an overwhelming number of options- and a lot of them are really similar, which gets confusing. There are also build your own burrito and salad options, “plate” options, tacos, soups, quesadillas, tortas, smoothies, shakes AND a juice bar. Yeah, I told you it was slightly overwhelming.

In the end, I decided to go with the Baked Falafel burrito bowl with quinoa instead of brown rice and served over greens. I know, mixing up my Mediterranean and Mexican themes- but I’m a sucker for falafel. In addition to the falafel, quinoa and kale, this came served with avocado, black beans, roasted corn pico and a chipotle sauce.

Was this dish healthy? I think so. Was it delicious? Not so much. It was extremely bland- and I can 100% vouch for the fact that these two things are not related. Healthy food does NOT have to be bland- a fact that is proved by many of the other restaurants I’ve reviewed on this blog.

Unfortunately, Al Horno Lean Mexican Kitchen just didn’t deliver. The falafel was dry and crumbly and none of the vegetables had any flavor. Not even the chipotle sauce could do much to help this sad little plate.

I was so disappointed- usually something with so many of my favorite things (avocado! Falafel! Black beans! Quinoa! Kale!) would have been a guaranteed grand-slam. But nope. I won’t be making a trip back to Al Horno, especially when there are so many places still left to try.