4. Pret A Manger
Hailing from the U.K., Pret A Manger has now expanded with over 60 U.S. shops in New York, Boston, Chicago and Washington D.C. Though technically a gourmet, fresh-food shop, every Pret location operates like a restaurant with a built-in kitchen. On the menu, you’ll find plenty of unique and tasty goodies — like the antibiotic-free chicken and edamame protein pot or the energy bagel, made with rolled oats, cracked wheat and sunflower seeds — with specialty options for vegetarians and vegans. Pret prides itself on packaging its food without labels, ensuring that everything is freshly made and without added ingredients.
If you haven’t stepped foot into one of Panera’s 2,000 locations lately, you’re in for a big surprise. Most Paneras have gone digital, which means you can order and customize your own meal at a separate computer kiosk versus visiting the counter, giving you the opportunity to track your calories and nutrition information while you’re at it. For parents, Panera is also a win, offering healthy and kid-friendly foods like grilled organic cheese on white whole-grain bread, PB&J made with all-natural peanut butter and squeezable organic yogurt as a side.
Open since 2007 with locations in California, D.C., Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and more, sweetgreen has stayed true to its mission of “inspiring healthier communities.” The menu items are fresh and seasonal with calorie counts available, and some entrées are categorized as vegan or gluten-free. Whether it’s the ultra-nutritious Kale Caesar salad, the Rad Thai salad or the Earth Bowl made with quinoa and farro, you’re bound to leave with a belly full of goodness. And if you’re feeling creative, you can always make your own healthy concoction by choosing a veggie or grain base and adding vegetable ingredients, a premium protein (with vegan-friendly options available) and a dressing on top.
7. Au Bon Pain
Coming in at over 300 locations throughout the U.S., Au Bon Pain has become an expert at the yummy and healthy quick lunch. Like Panera, Au Bon Pain’s nutritional information is available on-site at computer kiosks. Its wide selection of specialty salads is made with fresh veggies and lean proteins, though we recommend sticking with a petite plate — like the Brie, cheddar and fruit plate — if you want to limit your serving size. Kids’ menu items also come with the choice of chips, fresh fruit or carrots.
Next up: Noodles and Co.