Get Free Lunch Today At University City’s New Herban Quality Eats

The healthy fast-casual eatery opens its doors today, and they’re giving the first 101 people who make it in a free plate. Yes, please!

Herban Quality Eats
, the new fast-casual eatery opening today at 36th and Market streets, is like Boston Market for the health-conscious: You walk in and get a complete homestyle meal filled with a base, a protein, two sides and a sauce, all of which are portioned out on a tray-like plate. But instead of plain ol’ rotisserie chicken, you have choices like responsibly raised antibiotic- and GMO-free chicken, grass-fed local steak, pesto salmon, and the “Vegan Jawn,” a hefty patty made with lentils, beans, sweet potato, quinoa and more; and instead of mac and cheese and mashed potatoes, you have your choice of sides like quinoa ’n’ cheese (I was skeptical too, but it’s the bomb) made with local cheese, along with a sweet potato mash made with coconut milk instead of heavy cream, and more.

See? It’s like Boston Market, tray and all, but better for you. And of course more visually appealing, what with all the wooden planters decorating the walls and the giant neon-yellow sign above the cash register that screams “Eat Clean” in cursive writing.

As owners Kalefe Wright and Amir Fardshisheh and the eatery’s chef, Chris Paul, tell me, “We approached the concept from a consumer perspective, so we asked ourselves what we would like to eat. We want something warm but also nutritious, and that came out as this homestyle plate. Our philosophy is three-pronged: Foods are responsibly sourced, nutritious, and thoughtfully prepared.”

And the food is fresh, too, Paul tells me. They don’t have a freezer (or a deep-fryer, for that matter), so they are constantly prepping, making and re-making menu items throughout the day. And as Wright and Fardshisheh say, those menu items that are constantly being made throughout the day were put on the menu to satisfy everyone — from people who live in the gym to office workers — in a healthy way. For instance, as Fardshisheh explains, “We look to have something like Brussels sprouts on the menu because they pack protein.” And Wright follows up with, “We’re trying to fill our foods with things that will make you feel good.”

But at the end of the day, while they are focused on quality and health when it comes to filling your plate, they also want you to walk away with a smile on your face because what you just ate was praise-hands-emoji-worthy. As Wright says, “We want people to come in not even necessarily thinking of their health first.” So they want costumers to walk through their doors day after day because their food is great, and the whole it-being-good-for-you thing is just icing on the dairy-free, gluten-free pecan brownie.

Along with serving up sweet potato mash and quinoa ’n’ cheese, the eatery will also host wellness workshops on a pretty regular basis. As Fardshisheh says, “A lot of people want to eat healthy, but they don’t understand what that really means.” He’s quick to note that, while the guys don’t have formal backgrounds in health or nutrition, they’ve done their nutrition research in prepping for their business, and they feel like they could easily and helpfully impart that wisdom to the everyman or woman who sits in a cubicle all day, like they used to.

Now, back to the food: If you want to get your hands on some of it, today would be a very good day to do so. Starting at 11:30, Herban Quality Eats will be giving the first 101 folks to make it through the doors a free plate. And if you’re smart, you’ll fill it with some of that quinoa ’n’ cheese, ya heard?

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