Healthy Desk Lunches Don’t Have to be Boring With These Nutritious Takeout Hits
By Chelsea Lin and Jess Thomson
November 10, 2017
The sad, high-calorie desk lunch should be a thing of the past.
All photos by Hayley Young
In a perfect world, maybe we’d all make Mason jar salads for the workweek every Sunday, with the dressing on the bottom so nothing gets soggy, and every lunch would be a Instagrammable photo of nutritional bliss. (Remember those forgotten resolutions of January?) But life’s not always that predictable—and besides, with so many choices for greens to go in Seattle, eating well on a weekday is a snap. Who knew eating virtuously every day could be so delicious?
It’s nice that Evergreens, the locally grown, booming fast-salad concept, lets you choose from a salad, a wrap or a grain bowl—and really, they’re all quite healthy. We love the Mexican-leaning El Sombrero salad ($9) and the Cobb Your Enthusiasm ($9), but the romaine lettuce in these doesn’t hold up for more than about 20 minutes—so the longer you anticipate your wait to be before eating, the more you should lean toward getting your grains. Multiple locations; Pickup, lunch and dinner.
As an early entrant in the race to satisfy downtown Seattle’s lunchtime salad cravings, Sprout, in the base of Smith Tower, solidified its spot on the build-your-own podium with its dressings, which range from coconut curry to sesame soy Sriracha to apricot Dijon. Salads tend to be dressed on the lighter side here, so if you like a lot of dressing on your salad, say so. Pioneer Square, 512 Second Ave., 206.973.3766; South Lake Union, 501 Fairview Ave. N; Pickup and delivery, lunch and dinner, closes at 6 p.m.
Sweetgrass Food Co.
The Sweetgrass Thai kale salad ($9.95) is an unfamiliar combination of flavors—hippie kale, edamame, legit Thai spice—but with that flurry of cashews, it tops the list of satisfying mega salads that do a body good. And because kale holds up well, it’s the perfect thing to pick up when you don’t know when you’re going to get to lunch, but want to eat something you won’t regret. Ironically—or not?—the real reason we go back again and again is for the buckwheat snail cookie ($2.75), which is essentially a dome-shaped buckwheat brownie. Use Sweetgrass’ slick online site to order, and you can pick up your salad or smoothie in a small fridge to the right of the registers. Downtown, 1923 Seventh Ave.; 206.602.6656; Pickup and delivery, lunch and dinner.
Casual and quick, this U-District spot draws college crowds for being both inexpensive (nothing on the menu tops $11) and delicious. And the cuisine here—Saigon-style street eats, from pho to banh mi—is intrinsically healthier than the plentiful burger and burrito options nearby. Pick your protein (both the pork meatballs and lemongrass grilled chicken are excellent) and your preparation; we particularly like the vermicelli noodle bowls ($8.45–$10.40) for a light meal big on flavor, thanks to plenty of pickled veggies. University District, 4725 University Way NE; 206.456.7192; saitownseattle.com Pickup and delivery, lunch and dinner.
Vegetable mezze platter, carrot bi tahini, muhammara & green herb hummus, arugula, turnip pickle brine, mamnoon GF crackers with beet-pomegranate juice.
Mamnoon’s little sister, located at the base of one of Amazon’s downtown buildings just north of the Spheres, bills itself as “a modern union of juice, food and life.” Look beyond the bespoke hammered brass tables, the pretty tile and the Turkish coffee, and you’ll see an opportunity for clean food on the run; good travelers include the vegetable mezze platter ($9), which comes with the muhammara and carrot bi tahini that made you fall in love with Mamnoon in the first place. Bonus: Anar is open for breakfast, so if you need to pick up fixings for breakfast and lunch before your day actually starts, grab a date bar ($3.50) and the beet-pomegranate juice ($7) to go, too. Belltown, 2040 Sixth Ave.; 206.453.4654; Pickup and delivery, breakfast, lunch and dinner, closes at 6 p.m.
Tuna bowl and scallops poke bowl.
Seattle Fish Guys
Though it’s called a poke bowl ($10.99), this neighborhood fishmonger’s takeout sensation is more of a divided rectangular tray: scallion-flecked fish on one side, furikake-topped rice on the other. You can order sides such as kimchi and seaweed salad, which get piled somewhere in the middle, but this is not party-in-a-bowl poke. And the simplicity is why we like it. Order the shoyu tuna and eat it while the rice is still warm. Central District, 411 23rd Ave. S; 206.485.7388; seattlefishguys.com; Pickup, lunch and dinner.