Get Well

A Complete Guide to the Best Overpriced Grain Bowls in NYC

by Kirby Kelly

Somewhere between the explosion of kale and the emergence of the all-day cafe, grain bowls have become a staple in our repertoire. While the first documentation of our all-out obsession was in 2016, we’re pretty sure they’ve actually been a thing since the dawn of goop. Grain bowls are the reason that no one between the age of 18-35 has a rainy day fund (second only to New York City rent prices, of course).   

Before we dive into where to find these creations, let’s discuss the anatomy: What defines a grain bowl?

  1. It must be served in a bowl (duh). The bowl is of utmost importance — think of it as the culinary equivalent of “I woke up like this.” It’s messy yet creative, seemingly effortless yet carefully calculated. Plus, bowls tend to be more Instagrammable.
  2. One of the ingredients must resemble a grain. Cauliflower “rice” may be void of all happiness, but we’ll let it count based on texture.
  3. There’s something green hiding in there. Preferably of the least offensive variety (not kale), doused in dressing and hot sauce.
  4. There are at least five ingredients. One of which can be only found at Whole Foods.
  5. The price is in the double digits

Now that we’ve established some ground rules, we’re rounding up where to find grain bowls, and rating them with avocados (because if America decides to use another currency, it will be avocados). Below are the quintessential, overpriced, healthy-ish options you can’t miss.

Citizens of Chelsea

Photo cred: @jeaneunjinlee

Item: “The Farmer’s Bowl”

Ingredients: Cauliflower ‘quinoa’, farro, butternut squash, feta cheese, sauteed kale with a vinaigrette dressing.

Price: $12

Citizens of Chelsea is a solid spot if you ever find yourself above 14th Street (unlikely). The Farmer’s Bowl is seemingly affordable until the attractive Aussie on the other side of the table convinces you to add an egg ($2) or braised beef ($5) on it.

Rating: 3 avocado emojis

 

De Maria

Item: “Tiger Bowl”

Ingredients: Coconut grains, house-cured salmon, avocado, hijiki, black sesame, Leche de Tigre

Price: $17

De Maria’s approach is more food as art, which explains the artisanal pottery, avant-garde flavors, and cost. The Tiger Bowl is filled with global ingredients that will set you back $17 (don’t tell the chef, but I’m really paying for a chance to snap the Virgin Mary neon in the bathroom).

Rating: 3 avocado emojis

Epistrophy

Photo cred: @KirbyeKelly

Item: Quinoa Salad

Ingredients: Braised kale, butternut squash, avocado, quinoa, chickpeas, watermelon radish, and beet tahini dressing

Price: $14

This bowl is the textbook definition of eating the rainbow. The vibrant-colored produce spread across a shallow bowl is eye-catching enough to mask how small the portion is. The taste and presentation are spot on; however, and if you’re lucky enough to nab a window seat at Epistrophy, the natural lighting pays for itself.

Rating: 4 avocado emojis

Baby Brasa

Photo cred: @chrissys.kitchen

Item: Quinoa Bowl (Brunch only)

Ingredients: Red quinoa and white rice blend, avocado, shredded chicken, fried egg, yogurt dressing

Price: $17

Owned by model Franco Noriega (who, to be honest, probably doesn’t eat half the food on his menu), Baby Brasa puts a Peruvian spin on the brunch bowl. This protein-heavy bowl is a great option if you’re absolutely famished, though with no veggies in sight it’s not the healthiest option out there.

Rating: 2 avocado emojis

Westbourne

Photo cred: @aguynamedpatrick

Item: Sunset Grains

Ingredients: Wild hive farm grains, almond butter, maitake mushrooms, kale, chili oil

Price: $16

Newly-opened Westbourne brings California vibes to the South Village. Order the Sunset Grains (Editor’s note: f$&%ing delicious) and by the time you’re nearly finished, you’ll realize it’s just cleverly disguised savory oatmeal and think, “Shit, I could’ve thought of this.” Yeah, but you didn’t.

Rating: 5 avocado emojis

Dimes

Photo cred: @manrepeller

Item: Black Rice

Ingredients: Eggplant, coconut creamed kale, sweet potato mash, chili cucumber, grapefruit ginger ponzu

Price: $17

Ah, where to begin? 90 percent of Dimes’ menu is comprised of grain bowls, and they’re credited on more than one account for starting the movement. We go for the Black Rice bowl for some variation. Don’t let the name fool you, as everything here will cost more than an average diner or deli.

Rating: 4 avocado emojis

Bluestone Lane

Photo cred: @Hultsie

Item: Breakfast Bowl

Ingredients: Sautéed kale, cherry tomatoes, feta, avocado, red quinoa & poached egg

Price: $14

Many Bluestone Lane locations are now tourist traps, but on a weekday, you’ll find some pleasantry in a breakfast meeting over coffee and grains. If anything, their Breakfast Bowl offers an opportunity to make yourself appear healthy AF while everyone around you is ordering avocado toast.

Rating: 3 avocado emojis

Jack’s Wife Freda

Photo cred: @jackwifefreda

Item: Maya’s Breakfast Bowl

Price: Scrambled or poached eggs, red quinoa, kale, spaghetti squash, grilled tomato, and avocado

Price: $17

The breakfast bowl at Jack’s Wife Freda is perhaps the only thing worth waiting in that 1+ hour line for. Full of vegetables, the bowl will make you feel the purest, and it outshines the green shakshuka by a landslide.

Rating: 5 avocado emojis

 

Feature image via Marleigh Culver

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