It’s 11:25AM and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel… lunch time! You have exactly one hour to walk somewhere, grab lunch, eat it, and get back to the office – but for some reason you’re drawing a serious blank on where to go. Think Vanessa, think! This was me the entire year prior to my wedding. I worked in corporate America in Uptown, where part of my job was to take clients to lunch every.single.day. This could easily end up demolishing my entire days worth of calories in one sitting if I wasn’t strategic, and so my master list of healthy food options in the city was born.
I keep a list of all my favorite healthy eats around the city in a note on my phone. Whenever I’m in a bind on where to go, I just refer back to it and pick a place. It has totally changed the game for me when it comes to staying on track without giving up the freedom to eat out.
Please note, I am not a nutritionist or dietitian – these are just places that I have found to have healthier options to choose from. I am not scared to ask questions about ingredients, or remove ingredients from a dish in the name of making it healthier which you will find in my recommendations below.
Favorite Healthy Juice/Coffee Bars
Clean Juice // Probably my most frequented location on this list. Order the Hardcore (I add an apple and ginger), avocado toast on gluten free bread, or the Popeye bowl.
Not Just Coffee // Great spot to sit and work if you work from home! I usually go here for organic coffee and tea but the food is great too (Dilworth location does food, South End does not).
Fast Casual Restaurants
Yafo // Their motto is honest and authentic. I typically build my own bowl here consisting of half salad, half rice, hummus, tomato and cucumber salad, a little feta, avocado, chicken and light tahini.
Chopt // While I haven’t tried their new warm bowls, they look like something to be excited about! I typically go with the Santa Fe salad here, I remove the crispy shallots and get the dressing on the side or just ask for lemon juice as my dressing. Add chicken for protein.
Little Spoon // Great spot for the healthy, and unhealthy. We like to brunch, and hubby doesn’t usually want “healthy,” but I do – so this cafe is perfect for us. I would recommend checking out the Chopped, Porridge, Avocado Toast, Egg White Raft, or omelette if trying to be healthy.
Whole Foods // America’s healthiest grocery store! We like the hot bar here. I especially enjoy the fact that they cater heavily to paleo, gluten free diets. If you’re not in the mood to cook or in a hurry – this is a safe bet.
B.Good // Food with roots! I haven’t been here in awhile but like the Power Bowl. All of the salads look fantastic.
Crunch Bistro // Have to give kudos to Shane for finding this one. It’s around the corner from his office (although they have multiple locations) and we enjoy the Cilantro Chicken Quinoa bowl. I always ask for the dressing on the side and 98% of the time don’t even need it.
Sit Down Restaurants
Essex Bar & Bistro // The food is so good here, especially dinner. My go to healthy meal selection is from their lunch menu. It’s a warm Brussel Sprout Caesar salad and I opt for dressing on the side.
Soul Gastrolounge // This is another easy to be not healthy spot if you’re with someone who doesn’t care about that. Great date night location, the Nigiri or Sashimi is going to be your healthiest option. All the sushi is fantastic.
Suffolk Punch // They care about their ingredients. Opt for the Mixed Greens Salad or NC Shrimp dish.
The Manchester // This is a new spot in Charlotte. We had a great experience here with the food! Lots of great salad options which I haven’t had a chance to experiment around with yet. But, highly recommend the Baby Spinach and Fried Goat Cheese salad. Yes, the fried part of the goat cheese isn’t the best for you – but you can ask for the goat cheese not fried.
Roosters // Roosters is a classic in Charlotte in my opinion. The Joyce Farms Chicken, corn and spinach are a healthy option. If you’re visiting at lunch check out what their Chicken Bowl is, or opt for one of the salads with chicken.
Bentleys on 27 // This is definitely a fine dining experience and a bit of a splurge. I took my clients here for lunch often and the views are amazing! Love the Tuna Nicoise Salad which runs around $18 – not too bad for great quality tuna.
Oku // Hands down my favorite sushi spot in town. They source lots of their ingredients from local farmers and fishermen and I’ve never had a bad experience yet. Highly recommend the Spiced Chili Edamame, Yellowtail Carpaccio, and any of the sushi rolls (although not healthy, the potato roll is most popular). Opt for the salmon and lemon roll if you’re looking for something light, healthy, and refreshing.
PS: These photos are from our trip to the Foundry in Asheville.