12 casual and healthy places to eat

Cuisine Dining guide

January 10, 2024

Build your own bowl with salmon from Yafo Kitchen in SouthPark.

by Sharon Smith

After all the extra holiday helpings, it’s time to refocus on what’s good to eat — and good for you. Save our list of healthy places to eat for fresh, fast food. It will come in handy the next time you’re grabbing takeout, a protein-packed bowl or smoothie. Some spots are grab-and-go, others are dine-in restaurants. Either way, you’ll find satisfying and healthy options. 

This no-frills eatery with several Charlotte locations is easy to pop in, order and sit down — or grab and go. Cava is known for satisfying salad and grain bowls and pita wraps with ingredients that lend a touch of heat. The harissa avocado bowl (harissa honey chicken, hot harissa vinaigrette, feta, hummus, corn, avocado, rice and super greens) is a favorite. cava.com

When Chopt arrived at Park Road Shopping Center several years ago, it was an instant hit and a newish concept for Charlotte — salad for the whole meal. Since then, Chopt has added locations in Blakeney, the Arboretum and uptown. Pick your base of greens and ingredients, or choose a warm bowl and go. The classic Sante Fe salad with smoky chipotle vinaigrette is always a good choice. choptsalad.com

Bowl with strawberries, bananans and granola from Clean Juice in Charlotte.
Clean Juice photo by Peter Taylor

Clean Juice 
You may feel better before even walking inside — the name just sounds healthy. This certified organic juice bar has tried-and-true fresh juices and smoothies, plus savory toasts, açai bowls, cold-pressed shots and seasonal bites. There’s even a comprehensive cleanse program. Clean Juice first opened shop in Charlotte in 2015 and has grown into a national success. cleanjuice.com

Fern, Flavors from the Garden
A longtime oasis for vegans and veggie lovers on East Boulevard in Dilworth, Fern’s menu is built around what grows in the garden. Expect an array of salads and creative twists like cashew mac and cheese with garlic and herbs, a mushroom patty burger topped with shiitake bacon, and tofu banh mi. fernflavors.com

Flower Child
The menu at this happy, bright South End eatery boasts vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, along with meat-based meals. Choose from bowls, whole grain wraps and lighter fare like hummus plates and avocado toast. Meat eaters can easily find something healthy and satisfying here, too, like the flying avocado wrap with smoked turkey, gouda, romaine, tomato and avocado hummus. iamaflowerchild.com

Gréco Fresh Grille
This family-owned Greek and Mediterranean restaurant is going 10-plus years strong. Expect fast, fresh menu items like made-to-order salads, hummus plates, gyros and pitas. Treat yourself to some homemade baklava. Locations include Sharon Corners and Colony Place in south Charlotte. grecofreshgrille.com

Green Brothers Juice & Smoothie Co.
The juice and smoothie bar also offers acai bowls, gluten-free and vegan baked goods, and wellness shots. The winter menu offers a seasonal sweet fix on the healthier side — a Peppermint Bark smoothie with grass-fed chocolate, whey protein, cacao nibs, cacao powder, Nutella, peppermint, broccoli, banana, peanut butter and almond milk. Several locations across Charlotte, including Foxcroft East and Dilworth. greenbrothersjuice.com

Mezeh Mediterranean Grill
With four locations in Charlotte (including Strawberry Hill), Mezeh is a go-to spot for a quick grab-and-go lunch or takeout dinner. Fill your bowl with fresh greens and bold flavors. The taste of Mezeh bowl is just that: mixed greens, rice, falafel, turkish salad, Lebanese tabbouleh, Israeli couscous, cilantro hummus, spicy feta dip, sundried tomato salad, chickpea salad, spicy carrots with cauliflower, sunflower seeds and balsamic vinaigrette. Protein options include chicken, shredded lamb and veggie kefta. mezeh.com 

Nautical Bowls
Expect superfood bowls built with simple, organic and natural ingredients. This newcomer to Charlotte (Arboretum) fills a niche with plant-based, gluten, soy- and dairy-free bowls — all in a bright and breezy setting inspired by island life. nauticalbowls.com

Build your salad or wrap with a little of this or a lot of that! The options almost seem limitless with 50 toppings on the menu, plus soups and organic teas and lemonades. Two locations, at Rea Farms and uptown. salata.com

Viva Chicken 
This homegrown fast-casual spot features pollo a la brasa (Peruvian chicken) with locations across the area. Look for menu items packed with greens, protein and high-fiber carbs, like the limena chopped salad with romaine, solterito (Peruvian corn, edamame and queso fresco), chickpeas and added chicken; and the Naked Peruvian Wrap with quinoa, kale, cucumber, avocado and chicken. Known for an easy takeout experience with generous portions. vivachicken.com

YAFO Kitchen
Yafo’s fast-casual fare blends healthier Mediterranean foods and bold Middle Eastern flavors. Build a bowl, pita or a rotisserie chicken plate with your choice of sides. Pro tip: Order the family meal pack ($40) for a healthy mid-week dinner for 3-4 people. Three locations in Charlotte, including Shops at Morrison. yafokitchen.com  SP

Need more restaurant ideas? Visit our neighborhood guide to SouthPark. For a special night out, browse our list of splurge-worthy restaurants.

Featured image: Build Your Own Bowl at YAFO Kitchen

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