6 Delicious Lunch Bowls These DC-Area Nutritionists Swear By

Charmaine Jones' custom Sweetgreen salad. Photograph courtesy Charmaine Jones.

If there’s one thing we know about the Washingtonian workforce, it’s that they sure do love their lunch bowls. In downtown DC, it’s hard to go a block without passing a lunch place where you can grab a salad or grain bowl with your choice of 8,000 toppings. But with so many options, it’s sometimes hard to choose the healthiest ones. That’s why we reached out to six local nutritionists to get their go-to lunch bowl recipes—all of which are available at DC-area chains.

Hummus Tahina at Sweetgreen

Chosen by: Maureen Gately of DC Nutrition Services

What’s in it: Romaine lettuce, kale, herb falafel, feta, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, za’atar breadcrumbs, hummus, and cucumber tahini yogurt dressing.

Tip:  “I’m a definite meat eater, but this bowl contains falafel, and meat lovers wouldn’t miss the meat,” says Gately. “I also love to ask for the hummus on top, so I can use it to dip their delicious bread in. I ask for it with spicy broccoli which gives it a delicious kick.”

Mezzi Bowl at Sweet Leaf Cafe

Chosen by: Liz Toland of Mind Body Health

What’s in it: Organic falafel, saffron basmati rice, mixed mesclun, roasted red pepper hummus, cucumber, tomato, cabbage slaw, cilantro, feta, pita chips, and lemon tahini dressing.

Tip: “To practice moderation, you can choose rice or pita chips for a starch and choose feta or hummus rather than both and ask for the dressing on the side,” says Toland. “This way, you still include all the vital macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, but have moderated the portion size. The most important thing is to eat it mindfully.”

Custom Greens & Grains at Cava Grill

Chosen by: Allison Tepper of Allison Tepper Nutrition Consulting

What’s in it:  Romaine lettuce, lentils, chicken, crazy feta, hummus, tzatziki and eggplant and red pepper dip, tomato and cucumber salad, and kalamata olives.

Tip: “I drizzle lemon juice on top and the rest of the ingredients form a creamy dressing when mixed together. Delicious,” says Tepper.

Custom Green Salad at Sweetgreen

Chosen by: Charmaine Jones of Food Jonezi

What’s in it: Kale, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, raw chopped beets, spicy tofu, and spicy cashew dressing.   

Tip: “I always get my dressing on the side so I can control how the amount of  dressing poured into my salad,” says Jones. “I don’t want those unnecessary calories sneaking in.”

Custom Greens & Grains at Cava Grill

Chosen by: Carlene Thomas of Healthfully Ever After

What’s in it: Chicken, roasted red pepper hummus, eggplant, crazy feta, tomato cucumber salad, pickled onions, lemon, olives, mint, and herb dressing.

Tip: “[It’s] extremely filling. I basically split it between two meals or do a meal and a snack,” says Thomas.

Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad at Panera

Chosen by: Taylor Johnson of Roots Reboot

What’s in it: Romaine, arugula, adobo corn blend, quinoa tomato sofrito blend, cilantro, masa crisps, avocado, chile lime rojo ranch dressing (typically includes chicken and feta).

Tip: “I customize it and skip the chicken and feta cheese to make it a low fat, 530 calorie meal with a sprouted whole wheat roll on the side,” says Johnson. “Satisfying and delicious every time.”

Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.