ACAI, POKE, GRAIN, & MORE: THE 10 HEALTHIEST BOWLS CHARLOTTE HAS TO OFFER

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FINLEY AMATO

APR 15, 2019

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IMAGE VIA @NEKTERJUICEBAR | INSTAGRAM

In the Charlotte foodie scene, “bowls” are about as trendy as the man bun. So it’s no surprise that you can find pretty much any meal in bowl form these days. And with so many options, it can be hard to decide where to go when the craving hits. But we’re not complaining because we can’t get enough of these nutrient-dense powerhouse meals.

Acai bowls, poke bowls, and power bowls — we love them all. What can we say? We’re equal bowl opportunists.

Relatively new to the South End and Cornelius ‘hoods, Nékter’s bowls reflect the authenticity of the SoCal acai bowl (from where the franchise originally hails). Step inside their intimate, charming space and order literally any one of their acai items for a refreshing treat. Fitt Tip: not an acai bowl, but you’d be wise to try out their cashew milk-based twist on froyo, Skoop. It’s dairy-, soy-, refined sugar-, artificial flavor-, and preservative-free and it’ll totally blow your mind. And it comes in a bowl… so we deem it worthy of including in this post.

Rico’s, centralized in Uptown’s 7th Street Public Market (they’ve also been known to go mobile in their food truck), is considered Charlotte’s OG acai joint. While the frosty acai base is impressive, we’re equally wowed by the gorgeousness and density of the oh-so-fresh toppings they load on top of their bowls. Nut butter fan? Look no further than their Butter Bro Bowl that’s loaded up with peanut butter, almond butter, and… wait for it… Nutella. Okay, so it may not be the healthiest acai bowl, but it’s got hemp seeds, which might as well be a health trump card, right?

There’s a bowl for everyone at Clean Juice in South End, Steele Creek, and Huntersville (and word on the street is there’s an Uptown location on the horizon). The Beach Bowl, the Berry Bowl, the Green Bowl, the Nutty Bowl are all safe, but we recommend giving one of their more unique picks a go: The Beauty Bowl. While void of any acai, this nutrient-packed bowl combines banana, cold brew coffee, almond butter, cacao, and granola with activated charcoal. So yes, it’s black. We promise it’s worth it.

We love the seasonal nature of Roots’s menu. Serving in the heart of South End, you can always count on a nourishing meal here that’s never lacking in flavor. While it’s hard to recommend just one menu item (mostly because their menu is constantly rotating), any number of their bowls are fulfilling. Need a post-workout power up? We’re a big fan of their flavor-packed grain-based bowls and paleo-friendly options. One of our current favorite grain-free Roots staples is the Veggie Noodle Bowl. Fitt Tip: if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, do yourself a favor — add their local pulled chicken for an extra protein boost.

It’s a ramen house, so expect a dope bowl of—you guessed it—ramen when you step inside of South End’s Futo Buta. Ironically enough, Futo Buta loosely translates to “Fat Pig” in Japanese. No, they’re not trying to offend their patrons, it’s simply because fatty pig (more popularly recognized as pork belly) is a staple ingredient on the menu. It’s literally impossible to single out one recommended ramen bowl, so just trust us when we say you could blindly point to any of their ramen bowls and leave the happiest of customers. Yes, they do have pork belly-less ramen bowls too if that’s not your thing (we’re not judging… much).

Yafo is like the Chipotle of Mediterranean noms. Create your own bowl or pick from any one of their crafted menu bowls at their SouthPark, Plaza-Midwood (coming soon), or Dilworth (opening October 2018) spots. We’re partial to their grain bowls and hummus bowls, topped with literally any one of their proteins (their beef kofta and lamb options are a must), but if you’re grain- or legume-free, know that their salad bowls are top notch. Meat-free? Not a problem — we’ll put their falafel up against anyone’s. Let’s also not forget about their Greek Yogurt Mac ‘n Cheese… it comes in a small bowl, so it’s mostly diet-friendly.

Real food, fast. B.GOOD in both Uptown and Ballantyne totally slays the “fast food” game… but it’s so much more than fast food. Their ingredients are seasonal, local, and fresh AF — you’re encouraged to “find your roots”. B.GOOD is here to bring you mouth-watering kale and grain bowls that leave a small impact on the environment and a big impact on your taste buds. Some of our go-tos include the Power Bowl, the Spicy Avocado & Lime Bowl, or the Zucchini Noodles & Eggplant Meatballs!

Many Charlotteans would consider Bonsai to be the OG poke bowl spot. A fitting merit, as it’s situated right next to Rico’s in the 7th Street Public Market (and you’ll recall that Rico’s also claims an “OG” title in the “bowl” arena). Make no mistake though, we’re not calling attention to Bonsai due to any “first come, first served” rule — they’ve earned this recognition. Although their Sushiritos (yup, a sushi burrito) rightfully garner a lot of attention, it would be foolish to overlook their poke bowls. The bowl options may be limited, but when they’re as delicious as Bonsai makes them, we see absolutely no need to overcrowd an already stellar menu.

This South End spot can be easy to miss, as it’s tucked away in a subtle strip of South Blvd. shops. But once you know where it is, you’ll likely be on the hunt for residence nearby because it’s all you’re going to think about once you’ve tasted its glory. Take your pick of one of their signature menu bowls — not one of them is disappointing. But if (high-quality) raw fish freaks you out, opt for their Classic Bimbimbap bowl with bulgogi beef, fried egg, chili sauce, and sesame seeds.

Dilworth and Uptown natives rejoice! HI Tide is finally open on Morehead and lives up to its expectations. Between its raw bar and retail case filled with fresh seafood for purchase, the whole joint is nothing short of inviting. Focusing on fresh and sustainably-sourced seafood, you can count on a high-quality meal at this fast-casual restaurant. Feel free to build your own bowl, or go with one of their signatures, like the Sriracha Salmon or Poke Rainbow.

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