If the New York City lunch scene has taught us anything, it’s that fast food doesn’t need to be unhealthy. In fact, some of the Big Apple’s best on-the-go lunch spots have a healthy slant – which is great news for us busy but wellness-oriented New Yorkers. Here are our favorites – hopefully some are in your city, too!
The days of the “sad desk salad” are over thanks to the inventive and downright delicious creations of Sweetgreen. Indeed, if the idea of lettuce for lunch makes you feel bored and blue, Sweetgreen’s fresh, vibrant and seasonally-inspired salads will change your mind altogether. We’re also huge fans of their warm bowls, which feature protein-packed grains like quinoa and farro as their base.
Locations in: California, D.C., Illinois, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia
There is so much to love about By Chloe – a fast food restaurant gone veggie-based – that we hardly know where to start. For one, their salads transcend basic, incorporating clever ingredients like almond Parmesan cheese, apricot-glazed tempeh and chorizo-inspired seitan. But the real stars here, in our opinion, are the veggie burgers: We’re partial to the guac burger, a black bean-quinoa-sweet potato burg topped with the requisite guacamole and crunchy tortilla strips. Pair it with some air-baked French fries and a bottle of HealthAde kombucha (yes, they sell it here) and you’ve basically got yourself a dream lunch.
Locations in: New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Providence, RI (coming soon!)
You could call Hu a Paleo-leaning restaurant, but really it’s all about eating whole, nutrient-dense ingredients that are prepared honestly. This “real food” philosophy makes it a grab-and-go spot that’s pretty much a staple for us morning, noon and night. Come lunchtime, you can find us holed upstairs in their Union Square location, chowing on one of their signature warm bowls. We’re also partial to their beautiful chicken and beef dishes, which are always grass-feed and organic. And don’t forget to grab one of their organic, fair-trade, and unrefined sugar-free chocolate bars on your way out!
Locations in: Union Square (5th Avenue & 14th Street), Upper East Side (3rd Avenue and 86th Street)
Peacefood is a solid standby for both uptown and downtowners alike. Its Vegan-oriented menu is not nearly as severe as one might assume, incorporating yumminess like buckwheat pizzas and drop-dead delicious chickpea fries. Come lunchtime, you’ll find us ordering their roasted Japanese pumpkin sandwich, an unexpectedly delicious combination of savory-sweet pumpkin paired with nutty cashew cheese and walnuts. And although we’ve never had one, BHH’s Amina recently let us know that their cookies are pretty epic, too.
Locations in: Uptown (Amsterdam & 82nd), Downtown (University & 11th)
Consider Souen the OG of healthy NYC lunch spots, a tried-and-true stalwart that has been on the scene long before green juices and avocado toasts were en vogue. Billing itself as a “organic macrobiotic restaurant,” Souen is all about quality grains, legumes, veggies and fish. On the latter, it’s our secret go-to place when we’re itching for some lunchtime salmon sushi. Sushi fix aside, we’re big proponents of their squash tofu curry and always order a side of their homemade, gluten-free corn bread with miso tahini spread. Truly a must for any health nut.
Locations in: Soho (Sixth and Prince), East Village (6th Sreet & 1st Avenue)
You’d be remiss to consider Juice Press just a juice and smoothie shop. In fact, 90% of the time we’re there, we’re buying some of their organic, plant-based grab-and-go food. For lunchtime, we’re all about their roasted vegetable salad or the little-known but totally delicious selection of soups: Their butternut squash and quinoa soup is a hearty, spicy treat. For those of you who are truly on the go, try one of their smoothies – we’re all about the Harvey Wallbanger, made from cold-brewed coffee, nut milk, cacao and banana. Mmmmm.
Locations in: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut