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).
Tatte Bakery & Café70 Charles St., Beacon Hill
All of the adorable locations in Brookline, Cambridge (Third Street, Broadway, Main Street), and Charles Street offer the same classic light aesthetic, brightened up by crisp subway tiles and a haphazard collection of Edison bulbs and other industrial light fixtures. Chef Tzurit Or was born in Israel, and regulars rave about her Mediterranean-style fare, like savory tarts and sweet baked goods. She's also incredibly thoughtful when it comes to her ingredients, which she sources locally and humanely.
Bon Me100 Hanover St., Downtown | 617.989.9804
Bon Me was started by Boston natives Patrick Lynch and Ali Fong, who ran it as a food truck in the early years. Now, their Asian-style cuisine is served at restaurants across the city. The Chipotle-style ordering system asks you to choose between a sandwich, noodle salad, rice bowl, and green salad—then, choose from fillings like tofu, pork, and chicken. Veggies are included no matter what, and it's worth noting that the sandwich is by far the most popular item. These guys are expanding fast, with more than ten food trucks scattered around the city, and locations in Cambridge (Fresh Pond and Kendall Square), Chestnut Hill, and the South End.
Clover5 Cambridge Ctr., Cambridge
Clover actually bills itself as “fast food,” a comparison that’s not totally wrong considering that their average serve time is 3.5 minutes (seriously)—though that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Ayr Muir, the passionate founder behind the food-truck-turned-chain sources all of his produce fresh daily and scrawls the daily-changing menu on a whiteboard each day to reflect what’s been delivered. There are no freezers, and all of the food is prepared directly in front of you, as there’s no back of house whatsoever. While the daily changing menu means you never know what lunch is going to be, you can always expect it to be fresh, veggie-heavy, and flavorful. Clover's growing quickly, with several food trucks roaming constantly and brick-and-mortars in Harvard Square, East Cambridge, and Brookline.
Cocobeet100 City Hall Plaza, Downtown Crossing | 857.263.8598
This cheery little spot is right next door to city hall, meaning that it’s within striking distance of countless offices come lunchtime. Founder Kyle actually started the business when his wife, Lydia, was diagnosed with breast cancer and their doctor recommended trying out a “plant-packed” diet for her recovery. There’s a lot going on here—a juice bar with multiple-day meal plans, made-to-order smoothies and lunches, and a cooler stocked with premade meals. Everything is fresh, organic, vegan, and non-GMO; fan favorites include the chia seed pudding and quinoa sliders.
Flour Bakery131 Clarendon St., Back Bay | 617.437.7700
Flour Bakery is best known for their pastries and desserts (owner Joanne Chang famously beat Bobby Flay when he tried to take on her sticky buns in Throwdown), which are more than enough to justify a visit. Less famous but equally good are her lunchtime sandwiches and salads, which can be ordered at the counter and taken to go. Needless to say, the bread on the sandwiches is game-changing—we’re partial to the focaccia—and it’s kind of sinful to leave without taking dessert to-go, also. Locations Downtown, on the South End, and in Cambridge.
Zo92 State St., South End | 617.227.0101
This Greek spot has a pretty short menu—they stick to gyros and an excellent Mediterranean salad. The pork loin for the traditional gyro is marinated and stacked on a rotisserie (no horrifying cone in sight), and then sliced on to fresh pita to-order. It’s the kind of place you’ll want to black-book for your next craving. There's a second location Downtown.