Whether you’re eating alone or with a friend, a healthy lunch is the best afternoon pick-me-up and helps to set the tone for the rest of your day. It’s a great time to feel energized, reflect on your morning, and prepare for your evening.
For the days when you want a healthy lunch in the city, visit one of these places to feel full and energized so you can continue to slay all day!
1.) sweetgreen (Locations across Boston, Cambridge and Market Street Lynnfield)
My obsession with sweetgreen is one I could easily articulate into prose as long as my undergraduate thesis. I would have a salad from sweetgreen every day if I could without my bank account calling me to make sure there hasn’t been fraud on my account.
I had never “craved” salad before trying sweetgreen, but since my first trip to the Back Bay sweetgreen in 2014, my life has been forever changed. I had always viewed salad as a melancholy introduction to ~the main meal~ rather than a filling, exciting and delicious way to refuel. Not anymore!
My go-to picks from sweetgreen are their Kale Caesar salad and their Build Your Own option, where my type-A personality shines as I create the perfect bowl for my tastebuds.
Beyond their mouth-watering salads, my favorite aspect of sweetgreen is their commitment to social change. Originally founded in D.C. in 2007, their awareness of issues facing our world and communities is impressive and their charitable initiatives are honorable. They are committed to sustainability and host a handwritten sign of their food sources on the wall of every restaurant.
2.) Dig (Four locations in Boston – Back Bay (2); Downtown Crossing; Seaport; Cambridge is coming soon!)
Recently rebranded to Dig after formerly being known as punny “Dig Inn,” this is another chain restaurant which, just like sweetgreen, is not exclusive to Boston alone. Their mission is similar to sweetgreen in that they are just as devoted to ethical business practices, and they purchase their products from minority-run, small-scale farms to invest in the future of sustainable farming.
The build-your-own bowl concept is common at Dig, where you start by picking a base of either mixed greens, brown rice or a seasonally inspired grain like lemon zest quinoa in the summer and butternut squash farro in the winter. Then you add your choice of two vegetable-based sides such as lemon broccoli, cheesy cauliflower, roasted carrots, as well as savory sides like homemade macaroni and cheese and baked sweet potatoes. The third step is to add a protein such as tofu, meatballs, salmon or chicken, or a third side instead of a protein if you wish. The finale includes selecting your choice of sauce and adding on an avocado, which costs a bit extra.
My personal favorite bowl is the brown rice or the seasonal grain with the lemon broccoli, homemade macaroni and cheese and herb roasted chicken breast. I’m a plain Jane (plain Jen?) when it comes to my sauces, so I usually opt for none, but I’ll add a side of their pesto if I’m feeling ~adventurous~ before using my Dig app to pay and earn my rewards.
3.) Clover Food Lab (13 locations across Boston, Cambridge and the Northshore)
A pattern is starting to form among my favorite healthy restaurant choices in the city, and the magic word is sustainability. No one does it better than Boston born and bred Clover Food Lab, where their no B.S. approach to food is both admirable and tasty.
Their core food value is simplicity, which means all the ingredients are clean and no frills. There is no “back kitchen” when you go to Clover, rather you can watch your food be prepared right in front of you as you order. They don’t have fancy plates or cutlery, instead serving you in a street food-style manner, from hand to hand. Their menu changes regularly depending on the fresh, seasonal ingredients they have. I have tried their rosemary french fries and their take on the Sabich pita, and I was in a sensory playground the whole meal. It was so delicious and everything was so fresh and aromatic.
4.) Souper Roll Up Cafe (726 Cambridge Street, Cambridge MA 02141)
There is no place quite like Souper Roll Up. This hidden gem in East Cambridge is filled with warmth, positive energy and delicious soups. The owner of the cafe, Soun, is my honorary grandfather and always greets me with a smile and asks how my life is going when I find myself here. He will remember your name every single time he sees you, and if you tell him about your family or coworkers, he’ll make sure to tell you to “say hi to everybody” once you leave. He has a heart of gold and anything you order here will be fresh, healthy and served with a smile.
I am a huge fan of a high-quality bowl of soup, and every soup here is fresh, homemade and very comforting. I have tried nearly every soup available including the Chicken Noodle (it is literally HEALING and has cured me of several colds), the Chicken Ginger Rice, the Carrot and Ginger, the Mushroom, the Chicken Lentil, the Chicken Minestrone, the Gazpacho and my personal favorite: the Chicken Lemon Rice soup. I get emotional just thinking about it!
Souper Roll Up also has salads and wraps and offers a “you pick two” deal similar to Panera Bread, where you can get half of a sandwich or wrap with either soup or fruit salad. I love the Fresh Mozzarella sandwich and the California Roll-Up. The soup selection changes daily, so you can view their Twitter page to see what the soups of the day are prior to visiting.
5.) Creations (400 Main Street, Wakefield, MA 01880)
I cannot say enough positive comments about Creations. I have never had a bad experience here and the owner, Gia, is so kind and takes so much care into providing incredible service. I have enjoyed visiting Creations for over a decade, and the great food and service are worth every trip.
My favorite lunch is the Main Street Salad on a whole wheat wrap. The staff really take the time to serve you delicious food with high quality ingredients, and will bring the food out to you while you sit, or can package it if you’d rather take it to-go.
As for drinks, the skill the staff has at designing their lattes is phenomenal. I also LOVE their smoothies, and although I’ve tried many of the berry-based smoothies, my go-to for years has always been the Strawberry Breeze. It is SO good!
The atmosphere of Creations is so cute and relaxing. From the bright colors to the modern local art, it’s definitely a great find and a great place to bring the girls.
Enjoy all of your new, delicious healthy lunch options, ladies!