Travel

The Best Grab-and-Go Lunch Spots

Here’s the deal: Quick, packable, healthy lunch recipes are very much our jam—but we all have those days when pre-planning a week’s worth of meals, much less an emergency trip to the grocery store, just isn’t in the cards. The grab-and-go spots below offer low-maintenance alternatives to a packed lunch and, for the most part, won’t set you back from your clean eating goals (we threw in a few indulgences, just for fun).

Beefsteak

1528 Connecticut Ave. NW., Dupont Circle | 202.986.7597

Despite the name, José Andrés’ fast-casual joint in D.C. (there’s also a location in Philly now) puts all of the focus on vegetables. You’ll pick a base of bulgur, quinoa, rice, or leafy greens, and top it with vegetables and some oomph, like an avocado or a poached egg. The pre-made favorites, like the excellently named “Frida Kale,” or the “Kimchi-wa” bowls, sort of take out the guesswork. There's a second location in Foggy Bottom.

Chaia

3207 Grace St. NW, Georgetown | 202.333.5222

Suzanne Simon and Bettina Stern first started serving their vegetarian tacos at D.C.-area farmers markets, and it wasn’t long before the lines began, even on cold mornings. As expected, their first-ever brick-and-mortar has been wildly popular. The menu changes daily based on what’s fresh, and tacos can be ordered single or in three’s. In response to popular demand, any of them can now be ordered with a fried egg for protein-hounds.

Little Sesame

1306 18th St. NW, Dupont Circle | 202.463.2104

This tiny little spot off Dupont Circle serves hummus the way it’s served in Israel—rather than a side dish, it’s actually the base of the meal. When you order, you’ll receive a bowl of hummus topped with a medley of (typically sautéed) vegetables and/or meats, along with a small green side salad and a warm piece of pita bread. The meals are incredibly filling but never overwhelming.

SKWR

1400 K St. NW, Downtown | 202.682.1717

The three owners of this easy lunch spot are actually cousins whose parents owned a series of traditional Afghan kebab spots in town—SKWR is their modern take on the cooking style they learned form their parents. The classic kebab elements, like seasoned meat and basmati rice, are reminiscent of mom-and-pop spots, but the serving style takes cues from Chipotle. Decide between a bowl, a plate, and a wrap, pick a meat, and top with endless mixtures of spreads and dips.

Taylor Gourmet

1908 14th St. NW, Cardozo | 202.588.7117

Taylor Gourmet is the blood, sweat, and tears of two Philadelphia transplants who opened the chain’s first deli after determining there wasn’t a single good Philly-style hoagie spot in all of D.C. Today the chain is many locations strong, making it a lunchtime staple for everyone from college students to President Obama. The salads are perfectly suitable if you’re trying to keep lunchtime healthy, but the real order here is anything on their freshly baked bread (which gets delivered daily). The Italian sandwich and the Philly cheesesteak are obviously excellent, though anything involving their fried chicken cutlets is also worth a try. They're expanding fast, with locations in Dupont Circle, Mount Vernon Triangle, and the H Street Corridor.