The final of my year-end round-up posts covered the cream of the crop of chain restaurants I visited this year.
Unlike my top picks from Baltimore (click here) and Washington D.C. (click here) this year, the good thing about the following chain restaurants is that there’s a good chance there’s a location near you.
As an added bonus, chain restaurants are nice because they are located across state borders, which ensures a little piece of mind when traveling.
What’s really cool about the five restaurants that are my top picks of the year is that they are all both amazingly good, and amazingly good for you. From pizza to stir fry, salads to dessert, each restaurant offers fresh flavors and predominantly plant-based eats that impressed me. Another bonus of all these restaurants? Their gluten-free offerings are numerous, which means that can be relied on for a good meal despite multiple visits.
True Food Kitchen tactfully merges hipster sensibilities with an approachable menu, which results in a restaurant that pleases any vegan, vegetarian, food allergic sufferer, or those with unrestricted diets. I visited their Atlanta location and was impressed by their plant-based fare and philosophy that eating healthy is the one sure way to be healthy. Plus, they earn points for being open for brunch, which can be a tricky meal to find a gluten-free restaurant for.
A Philly export, Hip City Veg is a 100% vegan restaurant that offers a meaty selection of plant-based eats (see what I did there?). While gluten limits you a bit here, I have found success in finding safe eats. Go for the solid savory menu items, but don’t leave without getting a banana whip sundae. A one-ingredient wonder featuring creamy and smooth frozen banana, top your sundae with peanuts or allergy-free chocolate chips for added decadence.
I completely loved Modern Market, both for their allergy know-how and sheer variety of options. Most ingredients are locally sourced, and gluten-free diners can choose from pizza, sandwiches, entrees, salads, and more, or can pick and chose two of the above by getting half portions of anything on the menu. Their pizza is darn good (even by my sky-high standards), and I like the comfort-food quality of everything I have tried.
Admittedly, I am not a huge salad eater. I find them rather uninteresting, or at least I did until I went to Sweetgreen. Salads take center stage here, but these are not your average bland or bagged salad variety. Locally sourced veggies and inspired flavor combinations are combined to create salads that stand out from the crowd. Bonus: the Sweetgreen in Dupont Circle (Washington D.C.) is the chain’s test kitchen where new creations are engineered and test driven.
Another Philly-based chain, Honeygrow takes top honors of restaurants I discovered this year. Their menu centers around design-your-own stir fry bowls that allow you to choose your noodles, proteins, veggies, sauces, and toppings. With clear allergy protocols and an infinite number of possible flavor combinations, I find myself here often when I’m just too tired to cook dinner after a long day of work and classes. They never fail to fill me up and put a satisfied smile on my face.
Want to see all the chain restaurants I have reviewed? Click here to see a full list.
Have recommendations about chain restaurants I should check out in 2017? Comment below!