22 Healthy Fast-Casual Restaurants Changing The Way we Eat

  • Elyse Andrews
  • Fitt
22 Healthy Fast-Casual Restaurants Changing The Way we Eat

If you’re anything like us, you’re almost always on the go. That can make eating healthy really tough. After all, fast food joints aren’t exactly known for their hefty portions of veggies.

Luckily, we’re not the only ones who want to avoid junk food when eating out. These days, there are a ton of healthy fast casual restaurants around the country serving delicious, good-for-you food to busy people (like us).

We’ve rounded up the best spots so you can eat healthy even if you have a super hectic schedule. That means you’ll have more time for a run or the gym (and less Taco Bell meat sweats). Sounds like a win-win to us!

  • sweetgreen

    sweetgreen boston
    image via @sweetgreen

    Love salads but hate how they never fill you up? Yeah — you need sweetgreen in your life. Here, you’ll dig into one of their signature grain bowls or salads or customize your own. sweetgreen packs all of its meals with healthy, fresh ingredients that’ll give you lasting energy. Think quinoa, wild rice, greens, shrimp, tofu, chicken, and so much more. And with restaurants in California, Washington, DC, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, you’re never far from your next satisfying meal.

  • Lyfe Kitchen

    image via Lyfe Kitchen

    You could easily eat a full day’s worth of healthy meals at Lyfe Kitchen and not get bored. The restaurant’s eight locations in Illinois, Tennessee, Texas, Colorado, Nevada, and California start the day with eats like a Morning Veggie Wrap and Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes. For lunch or dinner, you can nosh on salads, soups, plates, bowls, and flatbreads, many of which are vegan and/or gluten-free. Lyfe even has dessert puddings made with chia seeds!

  • Veggie Grill

    Veggie Grill
    image via Veggie Grill

    For now, Veggie Grill only operates on the West Coast, but the fast casual chain is planning a big expansion to the Midwest and East Coast very soon. That’s good news for our taste buds because Veggie Grill serves up some of the best vegan food we’ve ever tasted. From the hearty salads, bowls, and plates to the tempting shareable snacks, you can’t go wrong with this menu. Bonus: many of the dishes—including some of the desserts—are gluten-free.

  • Just Salad

    Just Salad
    image via Just Salad

    Bored with the same old salad? Head to Just Salad for a healthy meal that’s sure to inspire. As the name suggests, Just Salad serves, well… salads. But these salads are salads with pizzazz (that’s not plural for pizza!). Each dish, like the Thai Chicken Crunch or the Ultimate Falafel, is packed with flavor from tasty dressings, veggies, and proteins. Don’t see anything you like? Build your own bowl at one of Just Salad’s locations in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, or Kansas.

  • True Food Kitchen

    True Food Kitchen
    image via True Food Kitchen

    True Food Kitchen might be the fanciest spot on this list, but it’s still casual enough—and healthy enough—to be included. True Food caters to nearly every type of eater, whether you’re a veggie lover, seafood fanatic, have a need for meat, or aren’t down with gluten. The drool-worthy menu even has hand-crafted cocktails made with fresh, seasonal ingredients (healthy for the soul, too). True Food already has restaurants on the East and West Coasts and a few places in between with many new spots planned.

  • Zoës Kitchen

    Zoës Kitchen
    image via Zoës Kitchen

    With locations in 20 states, you’re never far from a Zoës Kitchen. You’ve probably heard about how the Mediterranean diet is supposed to be super healthy. Well, Zoës takes it to a whole new level with a full menu of fresh Mediterranean delights. Start your meal with one of three kinds of hummus, then add a fresh salad, pita, or grilled sandwich. Looking for something more substantial? Zoës entrées are hearty, yet healthy.

  • Dig Inn

    image via @christianharder

    The concept behind Dig Inn is simple: you pick a base (like salad or a grain), add a protein, (like lean meat, tofu, or fish), and then pile it high with sides and toppings (pssst — then you dig in). The flavorful and filling food at Dig Inn is nourishing in the best way — it’s locally sourced and it’s all really good for you. The restaurant is still only in a few cities, like New York and Boston, but look for more locations soon as this cozy concept takes off.

  • Roti Modern Mediterranean

    image via Roti Mediterranean Grill

    Yeah, yeah. Mediterranean diet. Healthy. We’re all over it. And at Roti Modern Mediterranean, you can chow down on all of the good-for-you eats every day. Roti is all about customization, so you start with your base of choice, rice, laffa wrap, pita, or salad. Then top it with your favorite protein, sides, toppings, and sauces to make a meal that’s all your own. Taste the Mediterranean in Illinois, Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Minneapolis, Texas, and New York.

  • Freshii

    image via FoodPages.ca

    Whether it’s morning, midday, or evening, Freshii’s got something tasty and healthy waiting for you. Start your day with one of Freshii’s hearty egg breakfasts or their signature smoothie bowl. For lunch or dinner, Freshii offers soups, salads, wraps, burritos, and bowls, all of which are packed with lean protein, veggies, and healthy carbs. Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Freshii’s juices and smoothies are sure to get you back on track. The best news? There are Freshii locations all over the US—and even some abroad—making it the perfect place to eat healthy on the go.

  • Noodles & Company

    Noodles & Company
    image via Noodles & Company

    At first glance, Noodles & Company might not seem like the healthiest spot to grab a meal. But the menu is endlessly customizable and provides a lot of nutritional guidance. This means you can eat at Noodles & Company if you’re gluten-free, calorie conscious, vegetarian/vegan, or watching your sugar or sodium intake. (Liking things in noodle form is sort of a prerequisite, though.) Pair your noodle bowl with a fresh salad at one of Noodle & Company’s more than 400 locations and you’ve got yourself a healthy, filling meal.

  • Chopt

    image via forgegroupnyc.com

    There are a handful of salad spots on this list, but Chopt stands out because of the unique way it serves its meals. At Chopt, you can either pick one of the salads on the menu or build your own. Once you’ve got everything you want in the salad, Chopt uses a special device to chop your salad (hence the name). This leaves you with a beautiful bowl where all the ingredients are perfectly mixed — hooray for no more dry, awful, bland lettuce! Chopt has a few dozen locations up and down the East Coast for your green fix.

  • Pokéworks

    One of the newest trends in healthy eating is poké bowls, which hail all the way from Hawaii. The concept is simple: fresh, raw fish (usually tuna) is sliced and served with a variety of sauces and sides. And Pokéworks is bringing the tasty trend to the mainland with its signature poké bowls. You can also customize your poké experience by having it with rice, in a burrito, or on a salad. Really, if you love sushi, you’re going to go nuts for poké. Find it at a Pokéworks in 18 of our 50 states.

  • The Protein Bar

    The Protein Bar
    image via The Protein Bar

    As the name suggests, The Protein Bar is all about packing its meals with the building block of life. That means you can start your day with a scramble made with whole eggs, egg whites, or turkey bacon. Later on, try one of their bowls, bar-ritos, wraps, and salads with all-natural chicken, beef, or tofu. Wash down your meal with one of the eatery’s super green drinks, cold-pressed juices, or protein-packed smoothies. The Protein Bar will fuel you up in Chicago, Boulder, Denver, and Washington, DC.

  • Elevation Burger

    Elevation Burger
    image via Elevation Burger

    A burger joint on a list of the healthiest fast casual restaurants in the US? You betcha! Elevation Burger is all about serving burgers the healthy way. Elevation uses only 100% organic, grass-fed, free-range beef in its housemade patties. And if red meat isn’t your thing, you can nosh on an Elevation veggie burger or chicken sandwich. Pair your burger with the classic fries (made with heart-healthy olive oil) or get your serving of veggies with a side salad. You’ll find Elevation in Florida, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

  • honeygrow

    image via @honeygrow

    The story behind honeygrow has a familiar ring to it. A guy starts eating healthier and is suddenly super disappointed in the options available for healthy eating on-the-go. But while most of us just suck it up, this guy didn’t settle. And the result is honeygrow. Its menu is loaded with fresh stir-frys and inventive salads, which feature tons of fresh fruits and veggies, plus proteins that’ll satisfy meat and veg-lovers alike. honeygrow started in Philadelphia, but has quickly expanded to Washington, DC, Maryland, Illinois, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, and New York City, with more locations on tap.

  • Choolaah Indian BBQ

    This is NOT your grandma’s Indian restaurant. Choolaah, a fast-casual Indian BBQ spot in Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Cleveland is bringing a modern twist to classic Indian meals with customizable tandoor BBQ bowls, salads, wraps, and snacks that feature tangy masalas and fresh-baked Naan (um, yum!). And don’t worry if your vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, or gluten-free — they’ve got plenty of options for you, too. Hello, veggie croquettes. Bonus: their open kitchen concept lets you watch your meal being made in their custom tandoor ovens. Get ready to eat happy.

  • Juice Press

    Juice Press
    image via @uicepress

    A few years ago, it seemed like frozen yogurt was taking over the world. Now, a lot of those shops have been replaced by juice bars. Hey, we’re not complaining. One of our favorites is Juice Press because it’s got great juice (duh), but also serves other healthy eats. When we’re looking for more than just a liquid lunch, we pair our juice with one of the shop’s fresh salads or soups. Drink up Juice Press in New York City, Boston, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, DC, Connecticut, Nevada, Washington.

  • Flower Child

    best fast casual restaurants in the US
    image via @eatflowerchild | Instagram

    Order anything off Flower Child’s menu and you’re sure to leave happy. Their array of fresh and locally-sourced salads, hummus, soups, small plates, bowls, and wraps will take your taste buds on a journey to food enlightenment. The best part? Everything they serve is either vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. Channel your inner hippie at any of their locations in Arizona, California, Georgia, Nevada, and Texas, with more on the horizon.

  • First Watch

    image via Segall Group

    If you’re looking for super fresh, yet filling fare, look no further than First Watch. Billing itself as “The Daytime Cafe,” the folks at First Watch start the morning by making almost everything they serve from scratch. We’re partial to the restaurant’s delicious breakfasts, especially the avocado toast (we can’t get enough) and the power bowls. But we also love stopping by for a midday meal; hook yourself up with a half-sandwich and soup for a lunch that fuels you up without weighing you down. And lucky for our you, First Watch has locations nationwide.

  • by CHLOE.

    best restaurants in the US
    image via by CHLOE. | Facebook

    We all want to eat well, but that can sometimes be, well… hard. Enter by CHLOE. With digs in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Providence, and London, they’re here to help you out and provide you with energizing meals made with locally-sourced ingredients. Crunched for time? Check out their to-go menu — you can’t go wrong with their Peanutty Kale or Southwestern Quinoa. Wholesome. Plant-based. 100% vegan. Damn delicious. What more could you ask for?

  • Grabbagreen

    best fast casual in the US
    image via @grabbagreen | Instagram

    Need to grab a green (or grain) bowl on the go? Grabbagreen has just the thing — with a full menu of semi-organic, preservative, and GMO-free options, this fast casual is your new go-to for healthy eats in a hurry. Stop into any of their locations across Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Minnesota, Idaho, Maryland, Colorado, California, Arizona to fill up on their soups, smoothies, fresh-pressed juices, snacks, and breakfast. Here, there are only healthy choices.

  • B.GOOD

    fast casual restaurants around the US
    image via @bgoodofficial | Instagram

    This farm-to-table fast casual is serving up better food for a better life. Sustainably sourced and free of artificial preservatives, antibiotics, and growth hormones, B.GOOD is slinging fresh, seasonal, mouth-watering eats that are both healthy and tasty. And they’re catching on quick. With locations in 11 states, don’t be surprised if the next time you turn around, there’s a B.GOOD in your neck of the woods.