This week on Foobooz, we’re publishing our guide to Philly’s new world of cheap eats: upscale quick cuisine that’s as exciting as a meal at Vetri — at a fraction of the price. Today, an ode to bowls — and all the delicious things Philly eateries are cramming inside them. Check out our favorite one-bowl meals below. Or pick up the October issue of Philly Mag, on newsstands this week, to see all our Cheap Eats goodness in one place.
Sour Cherry BBQ Pork, $8.95
You know those lines that form at Honeygrow during lunch hour? Yeah, it’s because the food is that good. If you’re feeling frisky, add pineapple to the Sour Cherry BBQ pork bowl — the sweetness works well. Multiple locations.
Shrimp Noodle Bowl, $7
If you’ve only heard about Double Knot’s subterranean dining room, you haven’t heard the whole story. At lunchtime, the upstairs becomes a polished quick-serve operation where you can get bowls and banh mi, like this noodle dish that has grilled (not the ubiquitous poached) shrimp. 120 South 13th Street, Midtown Village.
Mushroom Pho, $10
The chicken pho is good. It’s also rare, because most serious Vietnamese restaurants don’t do chicken. But the mushroom broth in this pho is hauntingly tasty and only gets better the longer the kitchen has it on the stove. 308 East Girard Avenue, Fishtown.
Custom Pasta Bowl, price varies
Primavera, Alfredo, a touch of pesto, prosciutto, grilled shrimp, zucchini, goat cheese — you have complete control over what goes into your hefty bowl of pasta. Bonus points for the yummy house-made gluten-free pastas and the free delivery. 1511 South Street, Grad Hospital.
Bangkok Beef, $9.20
On the menu, this one comes over rice, with chard, cucumbers, and seared beef in a sweet tamarind sauce. It’s better over noodles, because Wok Street does a good job serving fresh noodles that have a bite. And those little bits of fried tempura batter add texture and crunch. 1518 Chestnut Street, Center City.
Poke Bowl, $9.25 and up
The first spot dedicated to this newly popular Hawaiian dish (expect to see Philly awash in poke soon) has a Chipotle-like assembly line. Fill your bowl with kale or brown rice, top it with scoops of raw tuna and salmon, toss on avocado and pineapple. The end result is 100 percent Instagram-worthy. 958 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties.
Sweet Potato Risotto Bowl, $10.95
Sweet potatoes have too many health benefits to list, so don’t feel a bit bad about eating every last morsel of this combo of brown rice, sweet potato, parmesan cheese and spinach. Multiple locations.
Roasted Vges, $7.78
If you order the vegan cheesesteak, we’re unfriending you. Opt instead for this savory mound of roasted peppers, mushrooms, kale and yams, all pulled together with a cilantro-spiked dressing over brown rice. 845 Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr.
Build-Your-Own Wok, $10 and up
Whether you order online or at the counter, go in with a game plan, because there are so many options for sauces (green curry, General Tso) and rice mix-ins (noodle chips, pineapple, an organic egg) that it’s easy to become overwhelmed, lose all sense of self, and default to the safe. 1935 Chestnut Street, Rittenhouse.
Kimchi Don Deop Bab, $9.50
The sweet-sauced tacos at this Korean/Mexican-fusion walk-up spot in Chestnut Hill’s Market at the Fareway are quite good, but our favorite dish here combines spicy strips of pork with fresh and sautéed pickled veggies over improbably flavorful white rice. 8229 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill.
Açai Bowl, $5.99
For the picky eaters among us, behold the build-your-own açai bowl at this fast-growing, locally born chain. You get to handpick your fruit toppings, along with crunchier stuff like granola and almonds, for a bowl sans surprise. Multiple locations.
Matcha Bowl, $12
Consider this a green smoothie on steroids. A blend of spinach, kiwi, banana and matcha (a trendy caffeine-laced green tea powder) is sprinkled with your choice of superfoods — think goji berries and cacao nibs. Now go conquer the world. 263 North 3rd Street, Old City.
Veggie Bowl, $7.75
There’s a reason so many eaters here are clad in Lululemon: The menu offers a slew of simple, veggie-packed options (read: guilt-free post-gym food) that still manage to feel indulgent, like this saucy bibimbap-inspired bowl loaded with sautéed greens, mushrooms and shredded carrots. 207 South 16th Street, Rittenhouse.
The Hulk, $7.50
Thanks to Pure Fare’s avocado-based smoothie bowl, you can unabashedly eat your avocado — blended with orange and spinach, then topped off with shredded coconut, banana and pumpkin seeds — with a spoon. 119 South 21st Street, Rittenhouse.
Granola and Yogurt, $3.25
Ravenous breakfast eaters, be warned: Size-wise, this yogurt and house-made granola dish is really more cup than bowl — but since it rings in at less than the cost of a latte, you totally get your money’s worth. 1335 Frankford Avenue, Fishtown.
This article first appeared as part of the Cheap Eats package in Philadelphia magazine’s October 2016 issue.