From fast to fresh: convenient meals don’t have to be unhealthy

Honeygrow has an aesthetic setup which matches the theme with the restaurant and the food served.

Taruni Addanki, copy editor


The line is overcrowded; people are huddled by the counter eagerly deciding what to put on their plates as they create a style of food that is unique to their taste.

Fast-casual restaurants have always been popular, but recently, more and more of them have been popping up across the nation. From street-side frenzies to foreign flavors, the acceptance of new dining styles is an expanding trend.

Normally, a customer would walk into a restaurant, ready to order their menu-based food, but with fast-casual places, what you order is entirely up to you and the extent of your imagination. The food is presented in a variety of forms, typically made under ten minutes, but with the benefit of organically produced food, a higher price tends to come with it.

“They’re more expensive than fast-food, but they’re healthier and have a wider variety of options, and you can make your own plates,” junior Yannie Wu said.

The traditional companies such as Chipotle or Cava are now facing competition from newer chains such as Sweetgreen, Honeygrow and &Pizza, displaying the new variety of fast-casual restaurants available to diners.

“It’s good to have fast-casual restaurants because you can get something healthy, and a lot of them have organic greens. I like that you can get locally raised meats,” French teacher Elaine Gonzalez said.

Located in Reston, Sweetgreen is a fast-casual salad bar that specializes in mixing greens, fruits and proteins to create flavorful, healthy meals. The building’s contemporary style captures the eyes and nose with pastel colors and the alluring smell of fresh spices and dishes made in front of your eyes. The restaurant offers a variety of styles to pick from: seasonal, warm bowls and salads, as well as a customizable option, making this a perfect place for conscious eaters.

Honeygrow, also located in Reston, is a place for stir-fry and salads that range from American classics to Asian-originated styles, and has an infinite number of options for food lovers. Like most fast-casual restaurants, Honeygrow has a variety of menu items as well as the option of building a personal dish, creating something even more exotic than a Red Coconut Curry Stir Fry.

“Honeygrow is really versatile, since I can choose between salads, stir fry or the honeybar, and all the ingredients are locally sourced,” junior Shreya Tripathy said. “Ordering food is also really easy and fast, since you order from screens, which have an easy-to-use layout. You can choose whichever ingredients you want.”

The fresh options and easy access make this restaurant more enticing to people looking for a quick and healthy eat. Honeygrow also offers a custom “honeybar” where customers can create their own healthy dessert in a bowl, starting with the options of fresh fruit and honey or maple syrup, topped off with granola, plain yogurt, dark chocolate chips or coconut shavings.

Once you step into &Pizza, a restaurant with branches in Reston, Tysons Corner and D.C., you are greeted with various entertaining mind games that are plastered on the surrounding walls. This fast-casual restaurant chain serves one-of-a-kind street-side pizza. In contrast to the traditional circular pizza shape, the pizza is placed onto a rectangular frame with the basic mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce and then baked with a medium sized crust. From the classic margarita pizza to any customizable desire, this restaurant can cook up the pizza of your dreams.

“Their flavors are richer and I like the shape of it; it’s easier to eat and holds the toppings better,” Gonzalez said. “I couldn’t call it a typical greasy, cheesy, drippy pizza, but I like their options.”

One aspect that makes this restaurant stand out is its focus on the authenticity of the original style of pizza, rather than the mainstream version.

The popularity of these fast-casual restaurants doesn’t focus only on one specific demographic or ethnic background; these styles come from all around the world and appeal to anyone who is willing to try new things. Their modern twists on the idea of fast food would captivate anyone simply walking down the street.

Taruni Addanki
Sweetgreen has an organic exterior which matches the the different varieties of organic food served, along with the input of the modern style and lights.
Taruni Addanki
&Pizza has bold lettering and graphics plastered on the glass, capturing the eyes of anyone who walks by.
Taruni Addanki
Honeygrow has an aesthetic setup which matches the theme with the restaurant and the food served.