A Food Critic’s Hacks for Your DIY Lunch Bowls

Bowls aren't going anywhere—but they can go very wrong.

Rule number 8: Trust the chef combos, such as this Korean barbecue beef bowl at Rice Crook. Photograph by Scott Suchman
Eat Great Cheap 2019

About Eat Great Cheap 2019

This article is a part of Washingtonian’s Eat Great Cheap feature, our annual list of where to eat (and not break the bank) right now. Our food editors put together the best new restaurants around DC where you can find Detroit-style pizza, Japanese egg-salad sandwiches, chicken-nugget-filled tacos, and more—for $25 or less per person.

DIY bowls aren’t going anywhere—but they can go very wrong. Here’s how to ensure desk-lunch greatness.

1. Pick just one sauce. Two can make it gloppy and muddle the flavors.

2. Then get another sauce on the side. An extra dipper never hurts.

3. Do the splits. Mix greens with grains or lentils, or choose half portions of two proteins.

4. Consider texture. Crunchy, creamy, soft, snappy—get a little of each (it’s a delicate balance).

5. Less is more when it comes to toppings. It’s tempting to choose all the accessories, but they tend to be the reason bowls become a cacophony of pickly, sweet, salty, and vinegary.

6. Always say yes to fresh herbs. They’re the key to a bright, fresh bowl and stand out amid lots of competing flavors.

7. Don’t just have a salad. If that’s what you’re after, go to Sweetgreen.

8. Trust the chef combos. There are 40,000 ways a bowl can go south. The pro versions tend to be tried and true.

This article appears in the August 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.