As a perpetually picky eater who prefers Cheetos and chocolate to anything remotely green, I never thought I’d be the person to write an article about grain bowls.

Yet, as I sit here, I find myself craving Cava’s Crazy Feta, YAFO’s hummus and Village Juice Company’s house-made balsamic fig dressing. Because as it turns out, you can eat well and actually enjoy the food — it’s just about finding the right spot.

So, if your new year started with a goal to eat healthier (or just to eat better and not choke on dry kale), I’ll get you started. Here are 18 of the best places for grain bowls. And, I promise, they’re great.

400 S. Tryon St., Unit: R1; 14825 Ballantyne Village Way; and 7926 Rea Road

Bowl: Spicy Avocado & Lime Bowl

What’s in it: Avocado, black bean corn salsa, sautéed veggies, quinoa, kale, tomatoes, cilantro, lime, chipotle puree, chipotle vinaigrette

Price: $10.50

What sets it apart: This, chef-inspired, best-selling bowl is something you can feel good about — the ingredients are healthy, and it’s grown on farms that prioritize sustainability.

(2) CAVA

4267 Park Road. and 6307 Providence Farm Lane.

Bowl: Build Your Own

What’s in it: Your combination of a base, dips/spreads, protein, toppings and dressings

Price: $9+

What sets it apart: Each bowl is customizable to your tastes, but the unique spreads and sauces give each bowl a distinct flavor. I highly recommend the Crazy Feta — it’s unlike anything I’ve ever tasted in a grain bowl.

4125 Park Road; 8022 Providence Road; and 9844 Rea Road

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Grab a Mexiketo Carnitas Bowl at Chopt for $10.99. Courtesy of Chopt Creative Salad Co. CHARLOTTEFIVE

Bowl: Mexiketo Carnitas Bowl

What’s in it: Warm grains or cauliflower rice, Mexican Goddess dressing, spicy braised pork, cotija cheese, pickled red onion, jalapeno peppers, cabbage and cilantro blend, toasted pumpkin seeds

Price: $10.99

What sets it apart: These bowls are a hearty, yet healthy option. Chopt just began serving cauliflower rice, which offers a low-carb substitute for other grains.

(4) CRUNCH BISTRO

401 N. Tryon St.

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Crunch Bistro’s Baked Salmon Quinoa Bowl is $9.99. Courtesy of Crunch Bistro CHARLOTTEFIVE

Bowl: Baked Salmon Quinoa Bowl

What’s in it: Warm quinoa, baked salmon, grape tomatoes, spinach, fresh avocado, lemon juice, olive oil

Price: $9.99

What sets it apart: This locally owned and operated small business always uses fresh produce in its menu items when possible.

(5) EARL’S GROCERY

1609 Elizabeth Ave.

Earl’s hearty Carpe Diem bowl is $16. Courtesy of Earl’s Grocery CHARLOTTEFIVE

Bowl: Carpe Diem

What’s in it: Warm quinoa, maple-roasted butternut squash, baked apples, toasted almonds, celery, carrots, onion, arugula, tahini-maple dressing

(6) FERN, FLAVORS FROM THE GARDEN

1419 East Blvd. A

Fern, Flavors from the Garden’s vegan Buddha Bowl is $14, or $16 if you add white balsamic marinated tofu. Chef Garrett Little CHARLOTTEFIVE

 

Bowl: Buddha Bowl

What’s in it: Beluga lentils, chickpeas, mixed vegetables, herbed red wine broth, seared apples, house-made pickle

Price: $14 (optional $2 add-on for white balsamic marinated tofu)

What sets it apart: This bowl is entirely vegan.

(7) FIRST WATCH

6311 Providence Farm Lane, #100; 2373 Len Patterson Road, #100, Fort Mill, SC

First Watch’s award winning Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl is $9.89. Courtesy of First Watch CHARLOTTEFIVE

Bowl: Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl

What’s in it: Quinoa, kale, carrots, house-roasted tomatoes, all-natural grilled chicken breast, basil pesto sauce, feta crumbles, fresh herbs

Price: $9.89

What sets it apart: This gluten-free bowl won a MenuMaster award for “Best Healthful Innovation.” Shortly after it was introduced as a seasonal menu item, but its popularity landed it a permanent spot on the menu.

(8) FLOWER CHILD

1537 Camden Road

The Mother Earth bowl at Flower Child is $9.95. Courtesy of Flower Child CHARLOTTEFIVE

Bowl: Mother Earth

What’s in it: Ancient grains, sweet potato, Portobello mushroom, avocado, cucumber, pistachio pesto, charred onion, leafy greens, red pepper miso vinaigrette, hemp seed

Price: $9.95

What sets it apart: Each ingredient in this dish brings something unique to the palate. The dish gets heartiness from the mixture of grains (which incorporates barley, farro and red quinoa) and sweet potato, acidity from the cucumber relish, umami from the mushroom and richness from the avocado.

(9) GRABBAGREEN

210 E. Trade St. Ste. B-124; and 3429 Toringdon Way, #104

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The Southwest bowl at Grabbagreen is $9.95, or $6.95 if you choose the vegetarian option. Everardo Keeme/Courtesy of Grabbagreen CHARLOTTEFIVE

Bowl: The Southwest

What’s in it: Chicken, avocado, black beans, corn, tomatoes, cheddar-jack cheese, cilantro, yogurt-agave barbecue sauce, quinoa or spinach

Price: $9.95 (vegetarian option without chicken is $6.95)

What sets it apart: This is a nutrient rich bowl made exclusively from whole foods and is less than 500 calories.

(10) LIVING KITCHEN

2000 South Blvd., Suite 100

Bowl: Yellow Curry

What’s in it: curried lentils, quinoa, kale, roasted cauliflower, pickled cabbage, cherry tomatoes, chimichurri sauce

Price: $13

What sets it apart: Each bowl is prepared from scratch using organic ingredients.

(11) PANERA BREAD

Multiple locations

Bowl: Baja Grain Bowl with Chicken

What’s in it: Feta, Greek yogurt, bean corn salsa, avocado, salsa verde, red grape tomatoes

Price: $10.29

What sets it apart: You can get it as part of the “You Pick Two” menu and pair it with a sandwich or salad.

(12) TAZIKI’S MEDITERRANEAN CAFE

205 S. Kings Drive; and 7107 Waverly Walk Ave., A5

Bowl: Quinoa Bowl

What’s in it: Quinoa, cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, capers, feta, taziki sauce, baked pita chip

Price: $9.99+

What sets it apart: There’s a ton of fresh protein choices including grilled chicken (available as kebobs), grilled lamb, grilled shrimp, grilled beef (available as kebobs), grilled salmon, grilled turkey, grilled veggies or herb-roasted pork loin.

(13) THE LIGHTS JUICERY AND CAFE

16631 Lancaster Hwy., Ste. 107

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The Eternal Sunshine bowl at The Lights Juicery and Cafe is $12.50. Courtesy of The Lights Juicery and Cafe CHARLOTTEFIVE

Bowl: Eternal Sunshine

What’s in it: Wild quinoa, roasted sweet potato, hummus, market greens, sunflower seeds, creamy cashew curry

Price: $12.50

What sets it apart: The greens are locally sourced from Tega Hills farms, the sweet potato comes from Tuton Farms and the quinoa is wild and organic.

(14) ROOTS CAFE

2135 Southend Drive, #109

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ROOTS Cafe’s Roasted Roots Bowl is $11. Courtesy of ROOTS Cafe CHARLOTTEFIVE

Bowl: Roasted Roots Bowl

What it is: Fresh greens, roasted sweet potatoes, bell peppers, caramelized onion, chili-braised black beans, red onions, roasted red pepper, vinaigrette, cream, crispy corn tortilla (can add chicken, bacon, or pastrami)

Price: $11

What sets it apart: You can add chicken, bacon or pastrami to give this flavorful dish extra flair and texture.

(15) VERDE

15105-F, John J. Delaney Drive

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The Bowled Buddha at Verdi is $10.95. Courtesy of Verde CHARLOTTEFIVE

Bowl: The Bowled Buddha

What’s in it: Roasted broccoli, chickpeas, pickled onion, roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, kimchi, power seeds, house-made turmeric vinaigrette, brown rice, quinoa

Price: $10.95

What sets it apart: This bowl is a powerhouse of nutrients, from probiotics in the fermented kimchi to the disease-fighting sulforaphane in the broccoli.

(16) VILLAGE JUICE COMPANY

1115 N. Brevard St., Unit 9

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Village Juice’s Brussels and Bacon Bowl is $10.95. Courtesy of Village Juice Company CHARLOTTEFIVE

Bowl: Brussels and Bacon Bowl

What’s in it: Choice of quinoa or brown rice and spinach, roasted brussels sprouts, charred cherry tomatoes, bacon, parmesan crisp with house-made fig balsamic dressing

Price: $10.95

What sets it apart: This bowl is the perfect balance of savory flavors and comes in a vegan option, as well. All bowls can be modified, and there’s a “Build-A-Bowl” option to customize your own.

(17) YAFO KITCHEN

1331 Central Ave #101; 1231A East Blvd.; 720 Gov Morrison St., #120

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YAFO’s Build Your Own bowl starts $8.99 and goes up with your choice of protein. Rémy Thurston CHARLOTTEFIVE

Bowl: Build Your Own

What’s in it: Anything you want. Recommended combination: rice and tabbouleh, tomato-cucumber salad, cabbage slaw, kalamata olives, feta, shawarma chicken and toum on top.

Price: $8.99 + protein

What sets it apart: This bowl is customizable. The team performed a calculation (with some help) and found out you could eat at YAFO 4.5 trillion times and not get the exact same bowl twice.

(18) ZOËS KITCHEN

Multiple locations

Bowl: Power Grain Bowl

What’s in it: Lentils, quinoa, farro and rice with house-made tzatziki, Moroccan harissa, Mediterranean relish, cucumbers and fresh dill

Price: $8.99 + protein

What sets it apart: You can add a variety of proteins to this dish including baked falafel, harissa salmon, lamb kafta or grilled chicken.

article via Charlotte Five