The Best Places To Eat Healthy In The Loop
Eating healthy in the new year does not have to be hard or boring. Thankfully, healthy lunches are very on-trend in the fast-casual food world, and if you're a Loop worker, you've never had more options for getting a delicious and healthful meal on the go. We've rounded up some of our favorite Loop lunch options, and noted which menu items deliver the most in terms of flavor and protein. Of course, everyone's idea of healthy is different—it all depends on your goals and dietary needs (one person's balanced meal could be another person's allergy attack, after all).
For the purposes of this highly subjective guide, we've defined a "healthy" lunch place as one where you can assemble your meal for under 600 calories, with at least 20 percent of them coming from protein. We also looked for meals with fresh ingredients, lots of vegetables, and low fat meats and toppings. Enjoy. And please let us know in the comments if we missed your favorite spot!
Meatless Monday never looked so good. via Native Foods.
Tofu and wheat gluten masquerading as meat is not everyone's idea of a good meal, but Native Foods is out to change those preconceptions. Vegetarians will rejoice, and meat lovers will be pleasantly surprised at the tasty menu items such as a fried "chicken" and Caribbean Jerk tempeh. For some healthy lunch options, we'd like to suggest the veggie-focused Soul Bowl, the Portobello And Sausage Burger or the Chicken Run Ranch Burger—this one in particular has all the flavors of a fried chicken sandwich, minus some of the fat, and comes in at just 500 calories and 21 grams of protein.
Located at 218 S. Clark St.
"Bar-rito," via Protein Bar.
Forgive Protein Bar its utilitarian name. This restaurant is packed with high-protein meal options, but that's not the whole point. The food is delicious, and many of the dishes are packed with fresh vegetables that can be hard to come by during a downtown worker's day. For a protein-packed, caffeinated treat that tastes more like a dessert than a protein shake, we recommend the Millennium Perk. For a more substantial meal, the Southwest Bar-rito has 590 calories and 51 grams of protein, the Bar-B-Q Bar-rito (a personal favorite) has 540 calories and 31 grams of protein, and the Quinoa Veggies Chili Bowl packs 21 grams of protein into a 350-calorie entree. We're consistently impressed with the nutritional breakdown of their menu items.
Located at 33 S. Wabash Ave., 221 W. Washington St. 235 S. Franklin St., 10 W. Lake St.
Anthony's dish of meatballs, noodles and seared green beans.
We couldn't stop raving about Shophouse, Chipotle's Southeast Asian cuisine cousin, when we paid them a first visit and ate everything we could get our hands on. Our love for this spot hasn't faded yet, thanks to its collection of flavor-packed, healthy meal options and the near-infinite combinations you can make with them. Their website also offers a handy calorie counter where you can mix and match ingredients yourself to come up with a tasty combination. For example, you can pair the brown rice, salad, grilled chicken satay, green beans and green curry sauce (plus a little herb salad for garnish) for a total of 550 calories, 26 percent of which are from protein.
Located at 24 E. Jackson St.
Bowl from Aloha Poke.
We've been celebrating Revival Food Hall from day one, but the fact is, a lot of the food court's awesome lunch places are high in flavor but also high-calorie. Not so with Aloha Poke, if you order right. This Lakeview restaurant's Loop offshoot offers bowls of simply-dressed (or leave the dressing off to lower the fat content) ahi tuna poke with rice and salad. We recommend keeping it healthy by keeping it simple, with tuna or salmon poke, brown rice or salad, and dressing on the side. And yes, you can still go crazy on the toppings.
Located at 125 S. Clark St.
Eastman Egg Company
This up-and-coming fast casual spot now has three locations (and a ton of venture capital cash) and there's a reason for its growth: Their food is delicious, healthy and locally-sourced. You can get Slagel Farms meats, locally made sauces and cage-free eggs. It's probably a bit more money than you're used to spending for an egg sandwich, but it's definitely worth it for a savory morning pick-me-up. And don't forget, they're open for other meals too; we've definitely scarfed a late lunch egg sandwich and been glad we did it.
Located at 500 W. Madison St.
Photo via Roti.
We're a little ashamed to admit how obsessed we are with Roti, but we really shouldn't be! After all, the company is Chicago-based, its locations serve super-healthy food, and it's almost impossible not to get a balanced meal. The Mediterranean-inspired counter service restaurant chain uses a Chipotle-like ordering model to serve customized rice bowls and salads with organic and free-range proteins. Once you've dumped a pound of hummus on top, you'll totally forget that you're actually eating something good for you.
Located at 33 N. Dearborn St., 310 W. Adams St., 10 S. Riverside Plaza.
It seems like a new Hannah's Bretzel pops up every time we turn a corner, and that's just fine with us. The Chicago-based chain serves their sandwiches on addictive pretzel bread, uses sophisticated ingredient combinations (we're addicted to the serrano ham, manchego cheese and shaved fennel sandwich) and is deeply committed to sustainability. Definitely a lunch you can feel good about, even if you do buy a fancy chocolate treat on the way out the door.
Located at 107 S. Franklin St., 180 W. Washington St., and 131 S. Dearborn St.
Photo via Be Leaf
Sometimes you just need a really solid soup and salad combo in your life. Look no further than Be Leaf. This Wacker Drive spot serves up some of the most beautiful salads we've seen, and lists all of its nutritional information online. Order a salad, wrap, soup or bowl, or mix and match ingredients to make your own. The Fiesta Fresca salad features skirt steak, avocado, cucumber cilantro and black beans at 550 calories—decision made, right?
Located at 29 N. Wacker Dr.