Grain Bowls and Salads

Life Alive

Call it the post-sandwich moment. From cafes to juice bars, more local spots are dishing out quick, inexpensive meals that don’t require slices of bread. Whether it’s a healthy salad or a hearty bowl, this colorful trend is worth celebrating.

Mother Juice

Spread across locations in Kendall Square, Newbury Street, and the Boston Public Market, Mother Juice is a locally founded purveyor of cold-pressed juices that also supplies healthy salads and bowls. Some, like the Super Green—made with kale, spinach, scallions, and almond-lime dressing—stick more closely to the salad genre, while the Forbidden Rice Bowl (warm black rice, spinach, and Sriracha-lime dressing) and the creatively titled Keen Whaaat! (kale, beets, warm quinoa, and avocado) incorporate grains.

With locations in Allston, Harvard Square, and Central Square, bowl-centric Whole Heart Provisions—a cafe from an Alden & Harlow vet—is slowly taking over. The global cuisine-inspired bowls brilliantly combine texture, flavor, and color. We love the Cassie with Japanese eggplant, crispy chickpeas, and creamy harissa, or the spicy gochujang-laden Seoul with bulgogi-style beets and toasted sesame.

Bread abounds at each of the Tatte Bakery & Cafe outposts now dotting the city landscape, but some of the local bakery chain’s best flavors are found among its salads (each of which is served with a roll). We’re partial to the Fattoush, which makes the most of Tatte’s carby ways by mixing in homemade za’atar croutons with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, sunflower seeds, and feta in a zesty lemon-olive oil dressing. If we’re feeling more peckish, we’ll go for the Crunchy Halloumi, which lives up to its name with perfectly seared strips of the Cypriot-style brined cheese accompanied by carrots, radish, raisins, toasted almonds, and apples in a tahini vinaigrette.

Looking past the sticky bun displays at each of Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery + Cafe locations can be tough, but you’ll be glad that you ventured over to the “salads + grain bowls” section of the menu. Our favorite of the four options is the Mustard Green + Farro bowl, which combines pickled vegetables with dried fruits, roasted carrots, spiced almonds, hearty multigrain croutons, and a zingy parmesan-garlic vinaigrette. Consider it the ultimate antidote to salad exhaustion.

Life Alive’s Cambridge and Brookline locations serve warm grain bowls packed full of organic goodness (and titled with eccentric names we can’t help but love). The Adventurer mixes corn, beets, cheddar, tofu, kale, and a sesame ginger sauce over brown rice and quinoa, while the Rainbow Harvest combines lemon flax brown rice with whipped sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, and broccoli over ginger sauce. You can also request that each be made demi in smaller size, or—if you can’t kick the carb craving—turn it into a wrap.

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