Lunch Break: Healthiest and Worst Pizzas, Sandwiches, and Salads at Matchbox

The pizza place offers lots of healthy options, along with a few hidden dangers to watch out for.

Matchbox, with five locations in DC, offers plenty of healthy lunch options, including their fire and smoke pizza. Photograph courtesy of Matchbox Restaurant's Facebook page.

Matchbox, with five locations in Washington, is a tasty and reasonably priced lunch option when you need to satisfy your pizza craving. And while there are a few major pitfalls on the menu, registered dietitian Alice Bender says it’s pretty easy to eat on the healthier side here. 

“Overall, you can find healthy choices in each category and make a meal that is mostly plant-based—although it’s tough to find any whole grains,” says Bender, the nutrition communications manager at the American Institute for Cancer Research. “With a little thought, you can have a healthy lunch at Matchbox.”


Healthiest: Fire & Smoke

For those who like their meals with some spice, you’re in luck. Bender’s top pizza pick is the “very spicy” Fire & Smoke, thanks to its piles of vegetables. “Cancer-fighting garlic, the nutrient-rich reds, fresh basil, and just one kind of cheese should keep the calories reasonable,” she says.

Worst: Matchbox Meat

Three meats—pepperoni, spicy Italian sausage, bacon—and no vegetables? That’s a big no-no, says Bender. “You’re best off avoiding anything with three kinds of processed meats all linked to higher cancer risk. And they’re high in fat and salt.”


Healthiest: Black Bean Veggie Burger

With healthy fats from the avocado and protein-rich black beans, the black bean burger is the best sandwich pick. If possible, ask for the chipotle mayo on the side and share the side of fries with your lunchmates.

Worst: Bistro Burger

With melted Gorgonzola, mushrooms, and bacon, this burger sure sounds delicious, but Bender warns of its high calories, high saturated fat, and minimal nutrients. “The combo of beef, cheese, and bacon make the bistro burger [. . .] a problem for cancer risk.”


Healthiest: Bulgogi Steak Salad

“It’s a great choice because it has a nice variety of veggies,” says Bender. The cabbage and broccoli are packed with cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Just be mindful of how much red meat you eat each week, she adds.

Worst: Chopped Matchbox Salad

This is a “no go,” says Bender, since it contains bacon, a processed meat that can increase one’s risk for colorectal cancer. “The limited number of vegetables with the pasta and creamy dressing keep this from being the low-cal nutritional powerhouse salads should be.”

BONUS: Sesame-Crusted Tuna Salad

Bender says this salad would be her top choice at Matchbox. With rare ahi tuna, marinated cucumbers, crispy wontons, peanuts, red onion, and daikon sprouts, Bender says, “It’s got plenty of colorful vegetables along with the healthful proteins in fish and peanuts.”

More Lunch Breaks:

Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza

2 Amys

Pizzeria Paradiso