Grab Lunch at One of These Healthy Fast-Casual Restaurants in Boston

Say goodbye to sad desk lunches and greasy takeout.

Opt for one of these fresh food purveyors dishing out grain bowls, salads, and wraps made with ingredients sourced from local farms, so you can power through your day—not lull yourself to sleep.

A spread at Cava, a fast-casual Mediterranean concept opening four locations near Boston in 2018

A spread at Cava/ Photo provided

Cava: This mediterranean fast-casual joint prepares bowls and pitas chock full of greens, hummus, and proteins of your choosing. The food is completely customizable to your palate, and no matter what toppings you reach for among their speciality dips and spreads, you can rest easy knowing they don’t contain any artificial additives or preservatives.

669 Boylston St., Boston, 1346 Boylston St., Boston, 617-286-8927,


The Bridgewater at Clover. / Photo by Brett Mickael

Clover Food Lab: Touting an average serve time of 3.5-minutes, Clover prides itself on living up to the true definition of fast food—but not in the traditional sense. Unlike other chain restaurants, Clover has no freezers in the entire company, the menu changes daily, and they don’t ever use preservatives. What started out as a food truck operation has since expanded into brick and mortar locations all across the city serving up exclusively vegetarian-fare locally-sourced from small farms in the area. The food lab even encourages collaboration with their customers to make menu items, like the “impossible” sausage sandwich or the mushroom scrapple sandwich. Traditionally, look for pitas, greens, and homemade soups when you stop in on your lunch break.

27 School St., Boston; and others,

Fenway Nachos at by CHLOE. / Photo provided by Chris Langley

By Chloe: You definitely don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to enjoy the fare at this fan-favorite vegan chain, born in New York City, and landing here back in 2016 with its first location in the Seaport. Since then, the brand has expanded to Fenway and Back Bay and offers everything from salads to burgers and sandwiches, to breakfast options, non-dairy frozen desserts, and even treats for your pup. Try the classic burger made with tempeh, lentils, chia, and walnuts and dip your air fried sweet potato fries in beet ketchup.

399 Boylston St., Boston, 617-336-7566; and others,

Spring menu items at Dig Inn

Spring menu at Dig Inn. / Photo courtesy of Dig Inn

Dig Inn: Featuring a menu that changes with the seasons, think peaches in the summer and brussels sprouts in the fall, load up your Dig Inn bowl with a base of rice or fresh greens, two sides like the creamy mac and cheese or roasted sweet potatoes, and make it a complete meal with protein options like herb roasted chicken or grilled tofu. All ingredients are sourced from local farms and they are committed to using whole vegetables from stem to leaf—minimizing food waste.

557 Boylston St., 617-904-3711; and others,

Grainmaker's Urban Greens bowl

Grainmaker’s Urban Greens bowl. / Photo provided

Grainmaker: Spawned here in Boston, this Southeast Asian-inspired quick-serve restaurant opened its first location downtown in 2017, and now has a second location in Somerville. Signature dishes include ingredients like bok choy, jasmine rice, and red coconut curry sauce. They also offer noodles, salads, street tacos, and even house-made passionfruit lemonade. Plus, if you have allergies, you can ensure that 100 percent of the menu is gluten and dairy free.

91 Summer St., Boston, 617-482-0131, 248 Elm St., Somerville, 617-764-3222,

Healthy grain bowls at Life Alive

Healthy bowls at Life Alive / Photo by Edward DiCroce

Life Alive: With three different locations across the city, you can expect three different menus at each one. But the one thing that remains consistent is Life Alive’s commitment to fresh ingredients and plant-based bowls, smoothies, and wraps. Swing by their newest location in Back Bay where you can sit at the rainbow bar and sip an iced espresso latte and munch on blueberry superfood waffles. They also deliver, perfect for lunchtime when you just can’t seem to get out of the office—bite into the Adventurer, filled with quinoa, tofu, beets, and sesame ginger sauce.

431 Boylston St., Boston, 857-239-8239,  

Mighty Love Food: Mighty Love Food, situated on the corner of Milk Street, was created by a group of entrepreneurs from the culinary and design worlds with a passion for not only serving healthy food, but educating customers about nutrition on a deeper level. The plant-based eatery dishes out flavor-packed sandwiches and salad bowls with locally-sourced ingredients, like the sloppy joe made with black beans, mushrooms, and fonio (a type of grain). They also serve smoothies and juices to keep you energized throughout the day.

155 Milk St., Boston, 857-239-9791,

Spyce: Michael Farid, who founded Spyce with fellow MIT alums Kale Rogers, Luke Schlueter, and Brady Knight about a year ago describes the concept of Spyce as a “stir-fry robot.” Its one of the first automated eateries in the world, serving bowls, with vegan and vegetarian options, hailing from all different cultures like Indian, Thai, and Latin, by way of a robot. That’s right, all your ingredients are tossed into a bowl and mixed before your eyes without human assistance. It’s fast-casual of the future.

241 Washington St.,

Sweetgreen Pesto Portobello bowl

Sweetgreen Pesto Portobello bowl. / Image provided

Sweetgreen: Order ahead for pickup so you don’t have to wait in line at this tried and true fast-casual chain. If a big bowl of leafy greens is what you crave, you’ll find no shortage of salad options here. Or, dive into warm grain bowls like the harvest bowl with added sweet potatoes, roasted chicken, and goat cheese. The menu changes with the season, and you can customize anything to your liking. We likely didn’t have to tell you any of that though, you’ve probably dined a dozen times at this chain, due to the gradual Sweetgreen takeover across the city.

659 Boylston St., Boston, 617-936-3464,

Tender Greens

Backyard Steak at Tender Greens. / Photos provided by Tender Greens

Tender Greens: Each Tender Greens location is inspired by the chef that runs the show—so expect unique menu offerings at each one. With two locations in the Boston area, the newest location in Back Bay and one in Chestnut Hill, you can choose from the chef’s special or make a plate of your own. Right now, the chef’s special is a Sardinian shrimp bowl with heirloom tomatoes, yellow squash, and fregola pasta. Plates can be made into a bowl, salad, or traditional “meat and potatoes” type meal. You can also sink your teeth into sandwiches like the falafel and sides like romaine hearts.

100 Huntington Ave., Suite K006A, Boston, 617-616-8700, 49 Boylston St., Suite 4940, Chestnut Hill,  

A feast (and some succulents) at Whole Heart Provisions

A feast (and some succulents) at Whole Heart Provisions. / Photo by Brian Samuels

Whole Heart Provisions: Vegetable-focused, but never lacking in flavor. Choose from signature salads like the new Kaya bowl, filled to the brim with red cabbage slaw, basil, green beans, currants, roasted broccoli, pickled jalapeño, coconut curry, tahini, and peanut crumble. Or make your own bowl and try street food snacks, like seared avocado or a falafel dog. We promise, you won’t miss the fact that there is no meat in sight.

487 Cambridge St., Allston, 298 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617-202-5041,