American fast food is generally terrible for you, so when you need a meal that you can grab quickly between meetings, why not tap the expertise of some countries better known for fresh, healthy cuisine?
That’s exactly what you can do this month in New York City, after the opening of three new fast-casual restaurants with foreign-food concepts—Indian, Greek, and Lebanese, specifically.
All three offer flavor-packed menus filled with fresh vegetables and healthy ingredients like olive oil (hello, Mediterranean Diet), inflammation-fighting spices (turmeric chicken!), and clean protein (chickpeas and lentils).
More reading: How the Mediterranean Diet can help you live longer
Don’t worry, Sweetgreen won’t mind if you cheat a little. —Lisa Elaine Held
Inspired by owner Silu Sao’s Indian mother’s cooking, Chutney Kitchen’s food tastes like lighter versions of classic Indian dishes. So you get the piled veggies and health-boosting spices, without the post-meal too-full feeling (as long as you skip the Naan tacos and white rice, that is).
You can order salad, rice, or chaat (potato and chickpea) bowls topped with options like carrots and cabbage, chickpeas and kale, spiced corn, and spicy cashews—all of it, of course, dashed with yummy cilantro, yogurt, or date chutneys.
856 Eighth Ave., between 51st and 52nd Sts., Midtown West, www.chutneykitchen.com
(Photo: Chutney Kitchen)
This Greek spot showcases Mediterranean flavors and ingredients with a Chipotle-like concept, where you choose a base (pita, rice, or salad), protein, sides, and toppings. Sides include fresh options like Greek, lentil, and chickpea salads, and the toppings like hummus, tzatziki, and eggplant spread are really, really delicious.
The best part: attention is paid to the quality of the meat and veggies, like grass-fed steak and lamb and organic salad greens.
633 Second Ave., between 34th and 35th Sts., Murray Hill, www.eonsgreekfoodforlife.com
One of the sisters behind this Middle Eastern chain brought the first Dunkin Donuts to Lebanon years ago, but she’s done a 180 since. At the brand-new Astor Place location (their first in the U.S., with others in Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, and more), you’ll find forward-thinking healthy ingredients everywhere, like powerhouse spices like turmeric and sumac, veggie proteins like pumpkin patties and wild-thyme cauliflower, falafel that’s grilled instead of fried, and sides like scrumptious sweet-and-sour eggplant. The seasoned hummus alone is worth a visit, and there are pickles everywhere if you’re looking to get your daily dose of fermented foods.
2 Astor Place, between Broadway and Lafayette, East Village, www.semsom.com