It all started with smoothie bowls. You know, the ridiculously photogenic ones that populate your Instagram feed every morning? But now bowls are branching out to claim lunch and dinner, too, and they’re making an appearance on pretty much any healthy-leaning restaurant menu.
Why are they suddenly everywhere? “They’re popular because they’re nutritious and can incorporate protein, whole grains, vegetables, and delicious sauces into one dish,” says chef Camille Becerra, formerly of Manhattan’s Navy restaurant. “I think that’s where we’re leaning in terms of eating habits now.”
And if the lines outside this other bowl-centric restaurants like Los Angeles’ M Cafe and Edibol (get it?) in or NYC’s Egg Shop are any indication, you’ve got a whole lot of one-dish meals in your future.
Here are six delicious bowls from healthy hotspots around the country to inspire your next meal. Plates just don’t stand a chance. —Victoria Lewis
(Photo: Sqirl Los Angeles)
New York City
The Mango Pitaya Breakfast Bowl
If there’s a healthy food trend happening in NYC, then Dimes knows about it—or is responsible for it. “New Yorkers are busy people, so a one-bowl meal is an ideal way to quickly get all of the nutrients and energy they need,” says Alissa Wagner, co-owner of the NYC healthy food mecca. Take the main ingredient in her ultra-photogenic breakfast bowl for example. It’s hot pink pitaya (AKA dragon fruit), a serious superfood.
(Photo: Nathan Perkel)
The Bangkok Bowl
“Canteen was inspired by the food I was creating for myself at home,” says founder Brian Heck. “I found myself using this simple formula: a grain, a green and a bean with a dressing or sauce.” This fan favorite comes with brown rice, aduki beans, broccoli, cabbage, avocado, red and green curry sauces and is topped with fermented food fave, kimchi.
The Sorrel Pesto Rice Bowl
Tiny, tasty Sqirl has cult following in the food world (all the way up to gods like Mark Bittman and Alice Waters) for its bacon-serving but vegan-friendly menu and super photogenic dishes. This Sorrel Pesto Rice bowl, a menu staple “is a surprise of flavors and textures,” says chef Jessica Koslow. An assessment we’d second. “And craveable every day.” Also totally true.
New York City
The Daily Bowl
Since Navy’s menu changes daily, based on what’s fresh and in-season, its bowl is always evolving, too. In the summer, you may find one packed with greens, squash and fresh herbs; in the winter, root vegetables and grains reign. Chef Camille Becerra, who created the menu at this popular Soho spot, loves to punctuate this must-have lunch dish with a perfectly poached egg.
(Photo: Camille Becerra)
“There’s something about loading up a bowl with a ton of fresh ingredients and mixing them all around to get the perfect bite every time that I just love,” says Blenders and Bowls owner Kara Jordan. “I could eat every meal out of a bowl!” Starting with her Austin hotspot’s delicious, nutrient-packed breakfast smoothie bowls…
(Photo: Linda Wagnder)
New York City
The Egg Shop BAP
People line up for hours outside this NoLita hotspot. Once inside, cheeky-named bowls like The Spandex (poached egg, avocado, quinoa) and the El Camino (poached egg, pulled pork, tomato, tortilla strips) are crazy popular. When we asked co-owner Sarah Schneider for her fave, she named the Korean-inspired BAP bowl that incorporates fresh veggies, sesame-ginger rice, house-made pickles, and a piece of habanero-honey glazed fried chicken.
(Photo: Egg Shop)
7. Sweetfin Poké
Santa Monica, CA
The Spicy Tuna
If you haven’t tried poké, LA’s favorite new food trend (by way of Hawaii), you’ll want to get on it. Sweetfin’s signature bowls are kind of like deconstructed sushi packed with ultra-fresh ingredients like citrus, kale, edamame and, of course, fish. (Though you could technically create a vegan one.) “Our bowls take the familiar flavors of sushi and put them in a healthy, totally customizable dish,” says co-founder Seth Cohen of this white hot culinary trend.