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Bowl food—also known as food served in a bowl—has maintained a strong hold on both fast-food and fast-casual restaurant menus. For many, the appeal of this food trend lies in the customization element, with eateries allowing customers to pick what kinds of grains, protein, vegetables, and sauces they would like to eat together. For others, bowls serve as a better alternative to traditionally unhealthy fast-food options.
From smoothies to rice dishes, foods of all varieties have moved out of their usual vessels and into a bowl for a convenient, often aesthetically pleasing, meal. Some chains have even completely transformed foods to make them bowl-friendly. Take Papa Johns, for example. Last August, the pizza chain rolled out its “Papa Bowls”—bowls of sauce, cheese, meat, and/or veggies that were promoted as a crustless pizza innovation.
While the bowl options out there are plentiful, there are some places that do it better than others. The next time you’re craving some bowl food, you’ll want to consider stopping by these chains, which serve up some satisfying eats by the bowlful.
With nearly 3,200 locations across the U.S., it’s no wonder Chipotle has garnered a cult-like following. Since being founded in 1993, the fast-casual chain has been drawing in customers with its burritos, tacos, and bowls, all of which are made with fresh ingredients that are free of additives and preservatives.
Arguably the most popular bowl option at the chain is the burrito bowl, which includes a choice of grilled meat or tofu-based sofritas, rice, beans, fajita veggies, and a selection of toppings, such as lettuce, cheese, salsa, and guacamole. And yes, guac is extra.
Beyond the burrito bowl, Chipotle’s salad bowls allow customers to nix the rice in exchange for a blend of romaine, baby kale, and baby spinach. Then, there are the lifestyle bowls, which are geared toward different diets and food preferences, such as Whole30, paleo, and keto.
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Operating 263 locations across the U.S. as of April 2023, this fast-casual chain serves a variety of grain and salad bowls featuring Mediterranean cuisine staples like hummus, tzatziki, falafel, and the chain’s beloved “Crazy Feta.”
While consumers may customize their meal, they can also choose from pre-designed bowls, such as Cava’s top seller, the Harissa Avocado Bowl. This popular menu item starts with a base of basmati rice and the chain’s SuperGreens and gets topped with harissa honey chicken, Crazy Feta, hummus, fire-roasted corn, avocado, pickled onions, Persian cucumber, feta, and hot harissa vinaigrette.
What began as a dorm room start-up founded by three college students seeking healthier food options in 2007 ultimately transformed into a farm-to-table salad chain with more than 200 locations across the country. This health-conscious, sustainability-focused brand boasts a wide range of bowls, selling both salad and grain-based options.
On Sweetgreen’s website, the chain highlights its most popular menu items, one being its Harvest Bowl. This fan-favorite meal consists of shredded kale, warm wild rice, roasted sweet potato, toasted almonds, apples, goat cheese, roasted chicken, and balsamic vinaigrette.
Also making an appearance on the Sweetgreen’s menu are three limited-time summer bowls, which are available until Aug. 14. These include the Peach + Goat Cheese Salad, the Chicken Teriyaki Bowl, and the BBQ Chicken Salad.
Like Sweetgreen, Chopt was founded by college students looking for healthier food options. Since opening its first outpost in 2001, the salad chain has grown to over 70 locations.
In addition to carrying the usual lettuce varieties like romaine, kale, and spinach, Chopt has a couple of other notable greens: Marinated Kale and a Cabbage + Cilantro Blend. For those interested in a Warm Bowl, Chopt also serves a proprietary blend of brown rice, quinoa, and lentils.
When ordering off of this bowl-centric menu, customers can choose between five warm bowls, eight salads, and eight wraps featuring the same ingredients as their salad counterparts. These choices are separate from Chopt’s limited-time summer menu, which the chain says is for “celebrating locally sourced summer produce.” One of these items is the Sweet Summer Cobb Salad, which comes complete with romaine, sweet and smoky chicken, pickled red onions, blue cheese, roasted almonds, fresh peaches, and an agave dijon vinaigrette.
Founded in 2015, this Hawaiian-inspired fast-casual brand currently reigns as the largest poké franchise in the U.S. As a fish-centric chain, Pokeworks carries multiple types of seafood, including shrimp, two versions of tuna, and three varieties of salmon. However, customers can also order tofu or chicken. These proteins are typically served on top of rice (though salad is also available) and paired with different veggies and sauces.
In addition to its customization option, Pokeworks’ menu is home to six signature bowls, four of which include seafood. One of these is the Spicy Ahi bowl, which is made with ahi tuna, cucumber, sweet onion, edamame, Sriracha aioli, masago, green onion, sesame seeds, onion crisps, shredded nori. Then for the vegetarians and vegans, there’s the Sweet Shoyu Tofu bowl, which contains organic firm tofu, cucumber, sweet onion, shredded kale, edamame, sweet shoyu (soy sauce), avocado, green onion, seaweed salad, and sesame seeds.
This content was originally published here.