Lunch Break: The Healthiest and Worst Burritos and Bowls at Boloco
The menu scores points for its veggie options, but stay away from the burrito that contains almost 800 calories.
Here at Washingtonian headquarters we spent about a year patiently waiting for the arrival of Boloco’s unconventional burritos. The Massachusetts-based burrito spot already has a location in Bethesda, and finally opened its DC doors last month.
With naturally raised meat and gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian choices, it seems like a great new addition to our lunchtime options. But to make sure, we had registered dietitian Tracy Gensler take a closer look at its menu.
“I love restaurants like Boloco, since you can select your own ingredients,” she says. “There are some great choices.”
It should be noted that the menu is high in sodium, which Gensler says is typical of restaurant dining. Read on to find out how to navigate the offerings.
• Worst—Classic Mexican (with flour tortilla and braised pork): Even in a small size (as all the burritos in this list will be), this option packs a hefty 734 calories, 12 grams of saturated fat, and 1,885 milligrams of sodium (with seven grams of fiber). In terms of nutrition, it’s simply not worth it.
• Better—Classic Mexican (with whole-wheat tortilla and grilled chicken): Luckily, our expert says that with a few tweaks, you can still enjoy this burrito. Add brown rice and leave off the jack cheese, and you’re left with 653 calories, 3 grams of saturated fat, a satiating 10 grams of fiber, and 1,743 milligrams of sodium. “You can make it even better and cut calories a little if you leave out the rice altogether. You don’t need it for fiber—you’ll get [fiber] from the black beans,” Gensler says.
• Best—The Summer: Order it with a whole-wheat tortilla, lean grilled chicken, and fajita veggies, and skip the jack cheese, and you’ll have a relatively decent 623 calories, 3 grams of saturated fat, 11 grams of fiber, and 1,514 milligrams of sodium. Gensler explains, “It’s no lightweight in calories or sodium, but it’s packed with veggies and fiber and will really sustain you through the day.”
BONUS—BOWLS AND BUILD-YOUR-OWN
Everything at Boloco can be ordered as a bowl, which is a handy option if you’re looking to cut calories (both the wheat and the flour tortilla are more than 200 calories alone). If you do go the bowl route, our expert says that your best bet is the small Caesar with a few adjustments. Forget the feta and add grilled chicken and beans for fiber—it’s a tame 397 calories, 3.8 grams of saturated fat, 6.5 grams of fiber, and 609 milligrams of sodium.
For something more substantial, try Gensler’s preferred bowl. “I would get the small Mediterranean with grilled chicken and black beans, and leave off the feta cheese,” she says. Her choice is a spot-on 507 calories, six grams of saturated fat, nine grams of fiber, and 1,029 milligrams of sodium. Plus it includes other healthy ingredients such as black bean hummus, cucumbers, and olives.
But if you have your heart set on a burrito, our expert says, “I would get the small Classic Mexican with grilled steak, fajita veggies, pinto beans, and no jack cheese in a whole wheat tortilla.” It’s 505 calories, six grams of saturated fat, nine grams of fiber, and 1,247 milligrams of sodium.
Gensler’s pointers for enjoying Boloco include always adding vegetables to your meal, leaving off the cheese, and cutting calories and saturated fat by choosing baked tofu, white chicken, or turkey.
Finally, she recommends constructing your meal before you go. “I like to see folks log in and fiddle around with the online calculator. You can really go to town with choosing healthy options.”
For more nutritional menu breakdowns of local restaurants, visit Well+Being’s Lunch Break page.