The Skinny: Mmm, now that's a Spicy Pickle!

By Wynter Holden

I admit it. The name alone suckered me in. Every time I took one particular route home from work (or play), I passed a new-construction strip mall with a big, cartoon-y sign in the corner that read "Spicy Pickle," flanked by an animated icon of the tart-and-sour veggie. The little pickle beckoned, teasing me with its promise of a "spicier" sandwich sidekick. This weekend, I gave in.

Spicy Pickle's a great place to eat if you're on a diet. Sure, the cream soups are likely off-the-chart when it comes to calorie and fat counts, but the Pickle has three things dieter's adore.

1. salads - there's no shortage of them here 2. pickles - these little guys can be a dieter's best friend; more on that in a sec and 3. sandwiches - at this deli-style restaurant, you can literally design your own sandwich, sans cheese and fat-laden condiments

Now about the pickles...

Pickles are my "secret weapon." Why? They're pretty filling, especially if you eat them whole. And one large pickle less than 20 calories (high in sodium, though, so if you have blood pressure issues, steer clear). You can take them with you on the go; just pop one in a plastic baggie and stick it in your purse (I'd say "or in your pants pocket, guys" here, but that would be, well, problematic. Let's just hope you're metrosexual enough that you're carrying a messenger bag).

I took a few friends with, and our table ordered a couple of sandwiches and a lunch combo with broccoli cheese soup and a tuna salad from the counter. When our order arrived a few minutes later, I snagged not one, but two of the spicy pickle wedges that came with our meals, which my friends Mr. Y and "Hopscotch" (long story) were only too happy to donate.

The half-size combo salad with tuna was mine, all mine. It was delish: the tuna light on chipotle mayo and infused with spicy pickle relish, tomatoes and kalamata olives; the salad chock full of apples, spinach, blue cheese and walnuts and served with heart-healthy lemon-olive oil vinaigrette. I was tempted to dive into the broccoli soup, but instead opted for one spoonful of the soup and two large pickle spears. Holy crap, that is a spicy pickle! I couldn't quite finish the second one, as the cayenne was starting to sear my palate.

I wouldn't suggest downing a mouthful of these spicy suckers, but I'll agree with the Denver-based chain's claim that they offer the "best spicy pickle in town." I haven't found one better yet.