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Find Healthy Options at These Fast-Casual D.C. Restaurants

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Cava Grill
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Just as the treadmills are monopolized by resolution-abiding citizens at the beginning of a new year, Whole Foods too is packed with cleanse-fanatics stocking up on cold-pressed juices and bulk boxes of leafy greens. There's no need to go to extremes with an all-kale diet to compensate for holiday indulgence, but choosing lighter options can help get rid of the extra serving of stuffing and mashed potatoes that's sticking around.

It's no secret that fast casual has been king in D.C. for several years now. Here are 12 nutritious fast-casual spots to hit for a lunchtime boost or an on-the-go dinner. "Healthy" can be a subjective term, but here find options with either plenty of vegetables, low-calorie menu items, vegetarian dishes and more.

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Beefsteak (multiple locations)

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The first fast-casual concept by José Andrés puts the emphasis on the veggies, meaning lots of hearty yet healthy offerings on the menu of bowls, salads, soups, and sandwiches. There is a selection of curated bowls, as well as the option to customize from a list of flash-prepared vegetables, grains, sauces, fresh toppings, and optional meats and proteins.

With a focus on fresh vegetables and lean protein, these burrito-sized rolls are heavy on the flavor but light on the guilt. Choose from eight selections, including several all-veg rolls like the Riki (with spicy beet, pea shoot leaves, avocado, jicama, pickled cucumber, red onion, and garlic dill yogurt) and the Elle (with organic tofu, arugula, roasted red pepper, jicama, green onion, black sesame seeds, garlic crunch, and passionfruit miso sauce).

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Cava Grill (multiple locations)

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There’s no shortage of Cava locations to visit for a heaping bowl of Mediterranean-style grains, dips, proteins, and vegetables. The menu has two new plant protein options: black lentils with parsley and seasonal roasted veggies (right now, it’s a medley of Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, and butternut squash). New fresh-pressed juice flavors include beet lemonade and blood orange green tea.

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From the farmers market to a brick-and-mortar spot in Georgetown, Chaia’s following of vegetable farm-to-taco enthusiasts hasn’t dwindled. The majority of the flavor influences are distinctly Mexican, with a few other world cuisines represented. The winter menu items include a smoky collard taco with queso cotija, smoky tomatillo salsa, and pickled radish and a winter squash taco with caramelized onion, ricotta salata, chipotle yogurt, and cilantro.

Chop't Creative Salad Company (multiple locations)

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They may be salads, but they’re not short on filling toppings or flavorful dressings. Chopt’s current “destinations salads” focus on middle eastern flavors, with toppings like kebabs, falafel bits, and Medjool dates.

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DC Dosa

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These South Indian lentil crepes are vegan and gluten-free, and they come stuffed with vegetable fillings and authentic chutneys. The lentil base for the crepes makes for a dense and satisfying meal without the dairy or the meat.

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Four Sisters Grill

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With mostly grilled or fresh proteins, these Vietnamese dishes are light and well-seasoned. The meats are served atop noodles, rice, or in bahn mi buns.

The calorie count is prominently displayed on Merzi’s menu, showing a conscious attempt to provide healthier, fast Indian cuisine. Proteins, sauces, and chutneys can be mixed and matched to fill rice bowls, naan bowls, roti wraps, salads, or chaat bowls.

SKWR Kabobline

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It may be yet another spot with the ever-popular customizable bowls and wraps, but SKWR gives the concept a middle eastern spin. Start with a bowl or wrap and choose from spreads like hummus or olivieh, proteins like lamb or white bean falafel, toppings like zucchini or lavash crisps, and sauces like yogurt and mint or pesto pesté.

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Soupergirl

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A warm bowl soup is just the thing to beat the bitter cold and potential historic snowstorm rolling into town, and as an added bonus, it’s low low-carb, so it won’t cause that dreaded after-lunch slump. The options currently on offer at the Georgetown location include lentil sweet potato apple, Mexican-style sweet potato black bean, and triple ginger butternut squash.

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sweetgreen (multiple locations)

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Sweetgreen isn’t just about salads anymore – they now offer bowls with whole grains like wild rice, farro, and quinoa, which will keep you full for longer. Of course, there are still plenty of salads, like the apple and butternut squash or the ‘avocobbo.’ Don’t forget about soups and the customizable salad options.

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The Little Beet

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The Little Beet is another gluten-free establishment, and with protein and vegetable-packed dishes, they boast that their menu is also “guiltin’ free.” The three main offerings are protein plates, bowls, and rolls, which are wrapped in nori instead of bread.

Official

Beefsteak (multiple locations)

The first fast-casual concept by José Andrés puts the emphasis on the veggies, meaning lots of hearty yet healthy offerings on the menu of bowls, salads, soups, and sandwiches. There is a selection of curated bowls, as well as the option to customize from a list of flash-prepared vegetables, grains, sauces, fresh toppings, and optional meats and proteins.

Buredo

With a focus on fresh vegetables and lean protein, these burrito-sized rolls are heavy on the flavor but light on the guilt. Choose from eight selections, including several all-veg rolls like the Riki (with spicy beet, pea shoot leaves, avocado, jicama, pickled cucumber, red onion, and garlic dill yogurt) and the Elle (with organic tofu, arugula, roasted red pepper, jicama, green onion, black sesame seeds, garlic crunch, and passionfruit miso sauce).

Official

Cava Grill (multiple locations)

There’s no shortage of Cava locations to visit for a heaping bowl of Mediterranean-style grains, dips, proteins, and vegetables. The menu has two new plant protein options: black lentils with parsley and seasonal roasted veggies (right now, it’s a medley of Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, and butternut squash). New fresh-pressed juice flavors include beet lemonade and blood orange green tea.

Official

Chaia

From the farmers market to a brick-and-mortar spot in Georgetown, Chaia’s following of vegetable farm-to-taco enthusiasts hasn’t dwindled. The majority of the flavor influences are distinctly Mexican, with a few other world cuisines represented. The winter menu items include a smoky collard taco with queso cotija, smoky tomatillo salsa, and pickled radish and a winter squash taco with caramelized onion, ricotta salata, chipotle yogurt, and cilantro.

Chop't Creative Salad Company (multiple locations)

They may be salads, but they’re not short on filling toppings or flavorful dressings. Chopt’s current “destinations salads” focus on middle eastern flavors, with toppings like kebabs, falafel bits, and Medjool dates.

Official

DC Dosa

These South Indian lentil crepes are vegan and gluten-free, and they come stuffed with vegetable fillings and authentic chutneys. The lentil base for the crepes makes for a dense and satisfying meal without the dairy or the meat.

Official

Four Sisters Grill

With mostly grilled or fresh proteins, these Vietnamese dishes are light and well-seasoned. The meats are served atop noodles, rice, or in bahn mi buns.

Merzi

The calorie count is prominently displayed on Merzi’s menu, showing a conscious attempt to provide healthier, fast Indian cuisine. Proteins, sauces, and chutneys can be mixed and matched to fill rice bowls, naan bowls, roti wraps, salads, or chaat bowls.

SKWR Kabobline

It may be yet another spot with the ever-popular customizable bowls and wraps, but SKWR gives the concept a middle eastern spin. Start with a bowl or wrap and choose from spreads like hummus or olivieh, proteins like lamb or white bean falafel, toppings like zucchini or lavash crisps, and sauces like yogurt and mint or pesto pesté.

Official

Soupergirl

A warm bowl soup is just the thing to beat the bitter cold and potential historic snowstorm rolling into town, and as an added bonus, it’s low low-carb, so it won’t cause that dreaded after-lunch slump. The options currently on offer at the Georgetown location include lentil sweet potato apple, Mexican-style sweet potato black bean, and triple ginger butternut squash.

Official

sweetgreen (multiple locations)

Sweetgreen isn’t just about salads anymore – they now offer bowls with whole grains like wild rice, farro, and quinoa, which will keep you full for longer. Of course, there are still plenty of salads, like the apple and butternut squash or the ‘avocobbo.’ Don’t forget about soups and the customizable salad options.

Official

The Little Beet

The Little Beet is another gluten-free establishment, and with protein and vegetable-packed dishes, they boast that their menu is also “guiltin’ free.” The three main offerings are protein plates, bowls, and rolls, which are wrapped in nori instead of bread.

Official

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