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

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JILL DINUCCI

APR 15, 2019

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IMAGE VIA @FRESHII | INSTAGRAM

Here in Chicago, we’re all about variety. So when it comes to the rise of trendy restaurants offering a plethora of meal-in-a-bowls throughout the city, our options aren’t just limited to ones made of acai and smoothie bases. In fact, between the poke, Buddha, Brazilian bowls, and more taking over the city’s fit(t) food scene, you may never need a plate again. The Fitt-approved places below prove it.

As if we don’t already love Left Coast enough for its California-focused atmosphere, the Acai Bowl is a must-have when it comes to their broad menu. Their signature bowl is packed with just the right amount of nutritious sweetness to healthily satisfy your sweet tooth, and if you’re worried you’ll get bored with just one bowl (we aren’t), Left Coast offers different seasonal bowls as well. Even if you’ve been to Left Coast countless times (like we have), none of them—in our opinion—really count until you’ve tried the Acai Bowl.

This fast-casual food chain with 20+ locations in the area provides convenient spots to try their variety of bowls. Start your day with a Cali Smoothie Bowl with a Freshii Green Smoothie base and then come back a few hours later to try the variety of brown rice bowls, the Mediterranean bowl, and the Buddha bowl. Because all are packed with fresh(ii) ingredients, you’ll wish you had room to try them all in one sitting.

You don’t have to be on a juice cleanse to fall in love with one of the healthiest spots in the city because JuiceRx has way more to offer than just juice. And, of course, that includes bowls. With several acai bowls already built into the menu, you can modify as much as needed based on your own dietary restrictions, or just simply build your own. Whether you’re at the downtown hot spot or the Wicker Park location, don’t be surprised if you walk out with more than just a bowl — you’ll be surrounded by tons of healthy options.

Graze prides itself on being damn good, and that is damn right. If you’re a regular Studio Three-er (aka you like to cycle, do yoga, and HIIT all under one roof), or if you frequent Chi-town’s Revival Food Hall, then you’re familiar with one of Chicago’s best spots to bowl out. Choose from five choices post workout as soon as you finish a class (you don’t even have to walk out of the Studio Three to get there!). Or grab some coworkers and stroll to the Revival Food Hall in the Loop.

Give your body what it deserves by checking out FruVe’ xPress Juicery in the Loop, where the focus is on foods that fight disease and increase energy. This means that the smoothie bowls are fresh, organic, and full of variety. Although FruVe’ xPress has over 35 different kinds of juices, smoothies, and wellness shots to choose from, the two most popular items on the menu are the Balance and Berry Breeze bowls, and we definitely won’t judge if you’re tempted to try both at the same time. If you don’t want to take our word for it, just remember that these favorites are favorites for a reason — statistics don’t lie (and neither do we).

Speaking of stats, City Press has some simple but important numbers to keep in mind: three separate locations (Wicker Park, Ravenswood, and Lakeview), three different goji bowls, and seven kinds of superfoods in each. City Press thrives on being a local, family-owned business whose core value is the wellbeing of its customers… all starting with what they’re putting into their bodies. So it’s totally okay if you become hooked on their all-organic menu. You aren’t alone.

Trust us when we say this is one Vibe you’ll want to catch—or, well, eat. Hi-Vibe Superfood Juicery claims to have the “World’s Greatest Acai,” and we aren’t going to argue. Right in the Loop across from Merch Mart, Hi-Vibe has seven different bowls to choose from that can all be modified based on your specific preferences. It even has a high-in-healthy-fats, low-in-unwanted-sugar Keto Bowl.

If you’ve been to a local Whole Foods recently, then you probably already know just how good Real Good really is. If you haven’t, there are different storefronts in the River North Southport Corridor, Old Town, and Bucktown to help make it easy to get your bowl fix ASAP. As far as acai bowls go, there are three to choose from and all three are as good as their names (any Michael Bowlton fans out there?). If you’re still hungry, some locations offer lunch and dinner bowls as well.

Belli’s in Pilsen is all about organic, healthy, and local ingredients when it comes to their bowls and the many other items available in their market as well (including hot and cold lunch bowls). The extensive menu offers four different acai and smoothie bowls and fourteen different mix-ins to choose from. Plus, each bowl allows for three different mix-ins of your choice, so you better come with a decisive mindset!

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Regardless of the name, this unsuspecting, fast-casual Brazilian restaurant in Lakeview and Albany Park serves up five different acai bowls that are packed to the brim with flavor so exotic, you’ll want to savor every bite. But the Brazilian Bowl considers itself a “fresh grill” for a reason: the menu has seven different Brazilian bowls—each with a different kind of protein. Not a meat-lover? The selection includes a Shrimp Bowl as well as a Vegetarian Bowl.

Luckily, we live in one of three cities where you can find a Protein Bar (or more like eight between downtown and Lincoln Park); this eatery offers six different, all-natural bowls. So you won’t feel bad about hitting up this kind of bar in the middle of the work day for your lunchtime bowl fix. And if you’ve already been, you may notice that the bowls have gotten even bigger—they recently increased bowl size by 30%, and we all know bigger is better.

This healthy fast-casual chain (which has four different locations throughout downtown and the West Loop) is all about “inspiring healthy communities,” and this obviously speaks right to us. The menu changes with season and location because of its local, fresh ingredients used in every bowl. Whether you’re choosing from one of three Warm Bowls listed on the menu or building your own, you’ll realize just how sweet eating healthy really feels.

Say “aloha” to one of Chicago’s healthiest poke hot spots. At Aloha Poke Co., it’s easy to choose exactly how you’d like your bowl (they even have a “naked” option for all of those clean eaters out there). And based on their fresh selection of poke, House Bowls, and sauces, it’s hard to go wrong. Stop by Aloha in either the Revival Food Hall (in the Loop), Hyde Park, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, or the West Loop to taste for yourself.

As the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea, and at High Tide, they’ve never looked so good. Choose from nine (yes, nine) different poke bowls as suggested on the menu, or design one yourself—which requires a lot of tough-but-worth-it decisions because of all the impressive (and healthy) options. Fitt tip: if you pick up the blue, brown, pink, or green lines at Clark and Lake, don’t be surprised if you miss your train because you’re poking right next door.

This always-busy but always-worth-the-wait fast-casual restaurant in Lincoln Park is proof that those little hole-in-the-wall places are often the best around. And when it comes to our bowl obsession, Crisp is an absolute must-try. In addition to three different Buddha bowls, Crisp also offers a Seoul Steak Bowl (a huge crowd favorite), and a Chi-town Chicken Bowl. Don’t forget to try Alison’s Atomic Sauce—a Crisp staple you and your taste buds will be thinking about long after you’ve finished your bowl.

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