Zambrero stands alongside Mad Max and Guzman y Gomez as one of the main Mexican chain restaurants in Australia. Like its rivals it lets you pick your type of dish – burrito, bowl, quesadilla etc – and add your own selection of fillings – but, within this remit, what are the lowest calorie option you can pick? Our guide to Zambrero calories reveals all…
Before we get onto that though, let’s talk about why you might pick Zambrero to eat at in the first place as it’s kind of an interesting story.
Is Zambrero Healthy?
The chain’s motto is Feel Good Mex – and, the fact that they were started by a medical student, Dr Sam Prince (check out his full story here), looking for healthy Mexican means it’s a given that they’re going to do their best to try and serve food that’s good for you.
But their name is not just a comment on the health of their food, it also reflects the fact that Zambrero do a lot of good for charity.
In fact, their Plate 4 Plate initiative means that when you buy a meal, their partner Rise Against Hunger donates a meal to someone somewhere else in the world that needs it – which means whatever you eat does someone else good.
But, if you want to do yourself good as well, here’s what to order.
(note: updated 10th March 2021 after some changes in the nutritional information)
The Lowest Calorie Dish in Zambrero
Is the Vegetarian Quesadillla without extra sauce – which comes in at 165 calories (690kj) per serving.
If you want extra sauce, then your best choice is Trezigo sauce which adds 12-24 calories depending on the size of the meal it’s added to.
The fact that the Vegetarian Quesadilla is lowest was a bit of a shocker because a) it’s basically melted cheese in carbs – but in most other variation of meal the Cauliflower version is the lowest option and the Veggie option is the highest! But not the Quesadilla.
The reason when you look into things is clear – many of the other veggie versions combine the yumminess of beans, rice and guacamole as a filling – which of course, adds more calories than pure veggies will.
What’s Trezigo Sauce?
Yes, I asked that too.
It’s a sauce flavoured with garlic, coriander and lime – but it also contains spirulina which is an interesting addition as I find spirulina adds a really earthy taste to everything but it seems to work in this.
Sadly the sauce isn’t any good for those who like their Mexican food firey as it has no chillis in it. The good news is though that the Red Chilli sauce isn’t far behind in the low calorie stakes at between 14-30 calories.
The highest calorie sauce in Zambrero, is, not surprisingly, the Basilo a mayonnaise that also contains pine nuts.
Adding that to your dish will add 52-102 calories – and a whopping 256 if you have it dolloped on the chips or chips and guac! You could have an entire extra quesadilla or taco for that!
It’s surprising how much difference the sauce you pick can make to your Zambrero calories so I see why they list the calories without that to start with. Pick carefully…
The other factors that determine the calories in Zambrero meal are the format you choose and the filling you pick. So, let’s get specific on the best choices for those …
Tacos and Quesadillas
If you really want to keep calories low, this is the section of the menu to pick from.
Their relatively small size, plus the fact that they don’t contain rice, beans or guacamole makes them naturally lower in calories and no matter which option you pick you won’t consume more than 303 calories (1272kj) – that’s in the Barbacoa Beef Dos Capas (without sauce) which combines both a hard and soft taco, your choice of filling and a smidge of cheese and sour cream.
As I said, the Vegetarian Quesadilla is absolutely the lowest calorie option to pick, but the Cauliflower Hard Taco has just 179 calories (748kj) and the Chicken and Pork ones aren’t too much higher at 206 calories each (861kj)
If you have a bigger appetite, the bowls offer the lowest calorie for their portion size on the Zambrero menu.
If you’re looking for absolutely the lowest calorie bowl meal in Zambrero, the Cauliflower Power Bowl is it at 286 calories (1195kj).
Zambrero do three types of bowl
The Classic Bowls come with Jasmine rice, pinto beans, sour cream, salsa, cheese and lettuce.
They are generally, the lowest calorie bowl option to choose and, other than the Vegetarian one, they all contain fewer than 500 calories (2100kj). Again, the Cauliflower Classic bowl is the lowest calorie option and it has just 397 calories (1657kj)
The IQ Bowl swaps jasmine rice for black rice and comes with extra amaranth seeds and guacamole. Or at least it did when I first wrote this piece.
When I first wrote this piece there was a difference of over 100 calories between the Classic Bowls and the IQ bowls – but when Zambrero updated their nutrition the gap seems to have shrunk.
There’s a few reasons why this could happen- they might shrink the overall portion size, or reduce the amount of a higher calories ingredient. My feeling though is that they have lost the seeds. It still says the IQ Bowl contains them on the main part of the menu, but if you look at what the dish contains they have gone – and that would explain such a big drop (if I’d noted down the fat in the original piece I could have confirmed that, but now, it’s just my guess.
This swap means that on average, an IQ Bowl will now contain just 14 calories (58kj) more than a classic bowl with the same toppings – but, it will be more filling as it contains lower GI carbs and more fat, the combination of which promotes satiety so, it could be a calorie sacrifice worth making.
The Power Bowl leaves out the guac but packs in extra protein by adding beans. This will also make them more filling than the Classic Bowl.
Again, when I first wrote this they contained more calories than the Classic Bowl, but that’s now also changed – and again, I’m thinking they’ve lost the seeds.
Now, therefore, in the case of the Chicken and Pork version we’re talking 77 calories fewer than a Classic bowl with the same toppings (and a total calorie count of 387 (1616kj) each), these are definitely another good choice.
There’s two sizes of Burrito at Zambrero and not surprisingly, ordering the Classic Small Burrito is the lowest calorie choice.
However, these have gone up in calories since I first wrote this. Originally, All of these – except the vegetarian one – contained 500 calories or less. Now only the cauliflower one does. It has 490 calories (2046kj) .
But how much extra damage is there from ordering a larger size?
You’re looking at around 250 calories (1050kj) more ordering a Classic Burrito with meat, 200 calories (840kj) more on the Cauliflower option.
Like the bowls, the IQ Burrito used to be 100 (420kj) per serving more than a large classic Burrito – but that’s shrunk down to 14 calories possibly because the seeds have gone.
When this was first written there was only a small increase in calories between a Power Burrito and a Classic one, but, with the menu revamp, the Power Burritos have now fallen considerably in calories so they are lower than the Classic Burrito. You can now save around 90 calories by swapping to a Power Burrito.
Note: because they use higher quantities of beans, guac and rice, the Vegetarian version of burritos are the dish highest in calories on the whole Zambrero menu.
The Vegetarian Classic Burrito has a whopping 876 calories (3660kj). If you don’t eat meat, pick the Cauliflower Power Burrito at 573 calories (2392kj).
From what I can work out, burrito calories do not contain additional extra like sour cream or cheese. If you add those it’s obviously going to add more.
Nachos, Chips and Dip
A serving of naked Chips is 228 calories (952kj) – add guacamole and that goes up to 322 calories (1345kj) – personally, I’d take the extra 94 calories and walk for 20 minutes later in the day! I love guacamole!
It’s probably not going to surprise anyone to discover that nachos, with their delicious topping trifecta of cheese, sour cream and guacamole, are not diet food!
Again, cauliflower is your lowest choice at 693 calories (2896kj). The Barbacoa Beef option is the highest at 811 calories (3389kj) – the others all hover around 775 calories (3238kj), give or take a handful.
What’s 500 Calories or Less in Zambrero?
Here are your choices in order from lowest to highest…
200 Calories or Less
Vegetarian Quesadilla – 167 calories (697kj)
Cauliflower Hard Taco – 179 calories (748kj)
Cauliflower Quesadilla – 190 calories (796kj)
Cauliflower Soft Taco – 193 calories (807kj)
300 Calories or Less
Vegetarian Hard Taco – 201 calories (839kj)
Chicken or Pork Hard Taco – 206 calories (861kj)
Lamb Hard Taco – 216 calories (901kj)
Vegetarian Soft Taco – 215 calories (898kj)
Beef Hard Taco – 218 calories (913kj)
Chicken or Pork Quesadilla – 217 calories (908kj)
Chicken or Pork Soft Taco – 220 calories (921kj)
Lamb Quesadilla – 227 calories (948kjj)
Lamb Soft Taco – 230 calories (960kj)
Beef Quesadilla – 230 calories (960kj)
Beef Soft Taco – 232 calories (971kj)
Cauliflower Dos Capos – 263 calories (1097kj)
Vegetarian Dos Capos – 284 calories (1188kj)
Cauliflower Power Bowl – 286 calories (1195kj)
Chicken or Pork Dos Capos – 289 calories (1209kj)
Lamb Dos Capos – 299 calories (1250kj)
400 Calories or Less
Chicken Power Bowl – 387 calories (1616kj)
Pork Power Bowl – 388 calories (1623kj)
Cauliflower Classic Bowl – 397 calories (1657kj)
500 Calories or Less
Caulflower IQ Bowl – 411 calories (1717kj)
Lamb Power Bowl – 423 calories (1768kj)
Barbacoa Beef Power Bowl – 434 calories (1811kj)
Cauiflower Classic Small Burrito – 490 calories (2046kj)
Chicken Classic Bowl – 464 calories (1938kj)
Pork Classic Bowl – 465 calories (1943kj)
Lamb Classic Bowl – 488 calories (2039kj)
Barbacoa Beef Classic Bowl – 495 calories (2068kj)
Chicken IQ Bowl – 478 calories (1998kj)
Pork IQ Bowl – 479 calories (2002kj)
So there you go. Your guide to Zambrero calories and the lowest options you can pick. If I didn’t give an exact calorie count for your favourite, you’ll find the Zambrero Nutritional Information here.
IF you want to know what offerings in Zambrero are gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan, then you need this chart here.
Looking for more Australian calories. Then you might also want to read our guide to the calories in Grilld … or, if you’re hankering for more Mexican goodies, we’ve also covered what’s good and low calorie at Guzman y Gomez. And, of course, we’ve looked at the best choices to order in Mad Mex too – there’s even more of those than there is at Zambrero so check it out in our guide to Mad Mex calories.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.