Guilt-free, grab-it-and-go that'll be the phrase resounding in your mind as you eagerly gobble up the last flavorful bite of Avocado Tree's new menu items like overstuffed quesadillas, chicken burrito rice bowls, and more.

Of the new offerings, the chicken burrito bowl might very well be the biggest hit, thanks to its quinoa rice, guacamole and soft egg (RMB 28 for the chicken bowl with quinoa rice on its own; add RMB 2 for extra quinoa rice, and an extra RMB 15 for guacamole, while the soft egg is an additional RMB 8). Its combination of light yet protein-rife ingredients will defeat your hunger without bogging you down. Opting for tofu instead of chicken is a great choice for vegetarians, especially considering the fresh hand-picked beans added to the mix (instead of the sodium-addled canned beans used as standard at many similar restaurants, which end up undercutting the healthy properties of any dish they're included in).

The overstuffed quesadillas (RMB 40) are even heartier and crunchier, thanks to their crisply toasted center, the proceedings being rounded out by equally crunchy barbacoa nacho and guacamole. Its beef is slow-cooked and juicy, and the usage of cooking with bone marrow instead of adding oil and sugar makes it a simpler, healthier choice than your average red meat lunch item (co-owner Nemanja Maric, pictured at top, learned that trick from his grandma back in Bosnia).

Such a straightforward approach makes their smoothies (comprised of avocado, spinach, and bananas; RMB 26), and especially their new yogurt, wholesomely nourishing. Maric seemed especially proud of that RMB 18 yogurt when he invited us for a recent visit, saying "it's difficult to find sugar-free yogurt in China. So we make ours with fresh milk, filter it with cheesecloth, and don’t use any additives to make it thick." The addition of honey, fruit, and granola is a better way to tickle the tastebuds, he and co-owner Chelsea Fan believe.

The restaurant chain has been a fixture in Beijing's F&B scene for a few years now, having opened branches in Liangmaqiao, Xiaoyun Lu, Pinnacle Plaza, Riveria Plaza, and Sanlitun's Topwin Mall. It occupies a unique niche by slinging fast food that's healthy and cheap. That can, at times, leave some customers a little befuddled given that many might surmise the need to indulge in beer and tequila when partaking in Mexican food, and handcrafted and healthy dishes often leaves most of us picturing strictly organic, fairly pricey fare.

But Avocado Tree balances these disparate elements to suit lunch patrons hankering for something nutritious before they have to dart back to the office. The natural fats, lack of sugar, and straightforward preparation of their food makes that possible, and the sheer number of their branches around town help keep suppliers happy enough to readily provide fresh ingredients at lower rates that trickle down to the customer's affordable bill. Sure, you'll find more elaborately savory tacos, burritos, and so on at Taco Bar and Q Mex, but AT's ultra-casual, California-style quesadillas and other Chipotle-esque grub make for a simple, tasty, and wholesome midday meal.

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Photos: Kyle Mullin, courtesy of Avocado Tree


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