Lunch: Light but Mighty
Eating right and feeling full aren’t mutually exclusive at these nutritious lunch spots.
Think of this City Market booth as a great tribute band: It produces impressive vegan takes on classic sandwiches like po’ boys and banh mi. The next best proxy for pulled pork, for instance, might be Three Carrots’s own Seitan Shredz “wheat meat” spiked with spicy sauce and chipotle slaw on Amelia’s bread. Bonus: The tofu’s umami flavor makes even committed omnivores rethink their choices. City Market, 403-5867
Duos at Eskenazi Health
Chef Becky Hostetter has long specialized in fresh, feel-good eats, making a repast at this glimmering glass ode to slow food in the Eskenazi Health plaza worth the $3 fee for an hour in the parking garage. Sandwiches like the baked tofu with vegan dijonnaise entice, but dig instead into the Balance Bowl—overflowing with spinach, black beans, and brown rice and drizzled with a chipotle aioli. 720 Eskenazi Ave., 880-5676
Ezra’s Enlightened Cafe
Backstreet Broad Ripple gem Ezra’s proves gluten-free, dairy-free, and GMO-free doesn’t have to mean taste-free. A rotating taco special with housemade raw tortillas bulges with savory walnut “meat.” A cashew “cheese” strewn over pinto beans, greens, and quinoa kicks up the Nacho Mama’s Bean Bowl (a worthy alternative to the veggie-packed Buddha Bowl). You deserve a reward for eating so saintly. A square of the flour-free, naturally sweetened Key lime “cheezecake” should do. 6516 Ferguson St., 255-3972
Head to the back patio of this one-room downtown taco shack and sip a Mexican Coke while you wait for owner Carlos Hutchinson to pass your caramelized pork-shoulder carnitas and salsa verde–chicken tamale out the back door. Don’t feel too bad about the cane sugar in your soda—dishes here are prepped with olive oil rather than the traditional lard. 2830 E. Washington St., 410-9507
Lines form quickly for the acai bowls at both Indy locations of this California-based superfood cafe. The antioxidant-rich berries get churned with nutrient-dense ingredients, such as chia seeds and bee pollen, to form a smoothie-like base and then are topped with low-cal treats like granola and bananas. The Power Bowl, with spinach and strawberries, makes for a happy medium between the sweet, fruity options and the veggie-heavy combos. 5650 W. 86th St., 661-3005; 110 W. Main St., Carmel, 581-9496
Heaping bowls of inventive, veggie-centric fare (like Kung Pao broccoli with wasabi vinaigrette) tempt at this latest addition to the Patachou empire. Chef Tyler Herald— inspired by the bounty from the restaurant’s Growing Places Indy garden as well as 20-some local farmers—offers a slew of vegan and gluten-free options. Regardless of the current menu, there’s always an herbivore-friendly “full plate”—a summer order of walking tacos came heaped with roasted squash, kohlrabi, and peppers. 900 E. 64th St., 964-0865
The Garden Table
Forget “put a bird on it”—the motto here might be “put an avocado on it.” Not that we’re complaining. Chef Ian Rossman satisfies the Broad Ripple yoga-pants crowd with toxin-clearing juices and a farm-fresh (often organic) bill of fare. Every nosh feels wholesome, from the Garden Toast—an avocado smear and tomato on Amelia’s bread—to the kale salad, layered with pulled chicken, avocado, and barely-there citrus vinaigrette. The BLT Smash, one of a handful of sammies, wins with toothsome, hormone-free pork and, yes—avocado. 908 E. Westfield Blvd., 737-2531
This article appeared in the September 2015 Issue.