It all started with smoothie bowls.You know, the ridiculously photogenic ones that populate your Instagram feed every morning? But now bowls are branching out to claim lunch and dinner, too, and they’re making a savory appearance on healthy-leaning restaurant menus, going by the name of grain bowls, macro bowls, veggie bowls, poke (sushi-style) bowls, and more. There’s even a cookbook called Bowl coming out by foodie-author Lukas Volger this year.
While many point west to the trend’s origin—with Cafe Gratitude serving as the Cali-style veggie bowl patron saint—it’s now a cross-country phenomenon, with many of the buzziest new eateries (in New York City alone, there’s Dimes, By Chloe, and Inday, among many others) attracting a stylish clientele eager to dig into their single-vessel offerings. And even fast-food has caught on: Sweetgreen’s rapid ascent to the healthy cool kid’s lunch table has happened with a bowl in hand, and Los Angeles’ Edibol created an entire good-for-you grab-and-go restaurant around the concept.
But there may be more than just tastebuds directing this trend. Some say that portion control is behind the bowl, that it’s a great way to get your protein, grains, and veggies, in perfect proportions (see this handy how-to infographic). Others say that this is just the healthy, casual way more Americans want to be eating right now. “There’s something really comforting about the serving vessel,” says Volger. “There’s something nice about the whole meal being there.”