Bowled Over

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Parakeet - Thai Vegan Bowl
Parakeet Café’s Thai Vegan Bowl | Photo by Parakeet Café

Healthy one-bowl meals, from savory varieties to fruit-topped acai, make a quick and nutritious choice for dining on the go.

By Sharael Kolberg


If you’re looking for a meal that is easy, delicious and healthy, bowls are a great option. They are often made with only a few ingredients, are nutritionally dense and can satisfy a sweet tooth or a savory craving. Luckily, in Newport Beach, plenty of eateries serve fresh, made-to-order bowls—perfect for those who don’t have the time, energy or expertise to prepare a nourishing meal at home.


Sweet and Fruity

Acai berries are packed with antioxidants that are good for your heart and brain, and may reduce the risk of cancer. Plus, they are naturally sweet and tasty. Acai bowls are a great way to get a dose of this “superfruit.” Additionally, you can select a range of yummy add-ons, such as fresh bananas or blueberries, peanut butter, cacao nibs, coconut, granola or honey.

Acai topped with fresh fruit from Banzai Bowls

“Acai bowls are easily consumed by individuals seeking a healthy and delicious treat or meal on the go,” says Ingly Taing, owner of Tru Bowl Superfood Bar Newport Beach. “The different topping options allow our customers to choose what they like on their bowls, according to their taste preferences and dietary restrictions.”

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Tru Bowl Superfood Bar’s base of acai and ube plus chia pudding, banana and strawberry slices, blueberries, hemp seed, cacao nibs and almond butter | Photo by Tru Bowl Superfood Bar Newport Beach

There are several places in Newport Beach that make these decadent bowls. Tru Bowl Superfood Bar on Balboa Peninsula carries the Pro Bowl with ingredients such as acai, strawberries, bananas and plant-based protein, topped with fruit, hemp heart granola, coconut, hemp hearts, goji berries and honey. The menu also features fresh juices and lemonades, wellness shots, smoothies and organic cold brews.

“Whether customers choose to have juices, smoothies or bowls, the different fruit and vegetable combinations are energy boosters and naturally delicious,” Taing adds.

Cali Honey Acai Republic-no credit
A bowl from Acai Republic

At Banzai Bowls, also on the peninsula, try the Maui Sunrise bowl made with acai, coconut milk, pineapple juice and fresh fruit, and topped with granola, fruit, coconut and honey. The shop also makes pitaya bowls and smoothies. Stop by Acai Republic in Corona del Mar Plaza for The Madly Mango bowl, which brings together acai, fresh fruit and guarana, and toppings like mango, granola and coconut. You’ll also find chia pudding, a pitaya bowl, smoothies and fresh juices, as well as empanadas and other savory or sweet Brazilian pastries.


Packed with Protein

For those who want to add more protein to their diet, you can’t beat a bowl. They typically include fresh vegetables, beans and rice with a protein. The vegetables offer a good crunch that will fill you up and the spices make it appealing.

The Protein Bowl at Jan’s Health Bar in Corona del Mar allows customers to choose from a variety of protein options, including chicken breast, turkey, tuna salad, chicken salad, vegetarian turkey or even avocado. It also incorporates carrots, cucumbers, sprouts, tomatoes, quinoa and Spike seasoning. Additional menu items include sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups, smoothies and more.

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The Protein Bowl from Jan’s Health Bar | Photo by Jan’s Health Bar

“At Jan’s, we’re committed to providing our customers with healthy, delicious options that fit into their busy lifestyles,” says Poppy Holguin, owner of Jan’s Health Bar. “The Protein Bowl features all the nutrients, delicious flavor and protein of a sandwich, without the bread—making it perfect for those looking to increase their protein intake, but also want to balance this out with fresh produce.”

Poke bowls, typically made with marinated raw salmon or tuna, are another popular choice for protein lovers. You can find them at Poke OC near John Wayne Airport, where guests select from eight different types of seafood or tofu, a base of rice and/or spring mix, 12 toppings—such as green onions, ginger or edamame—and a side of cucumber, crab meat, onion or avocado. Customers also choose how spicy they want it.

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Sweetfin’s poke bowl with albacore and mango | Photo by Sweetfin

Another poke bowl spot is Sweetfin, also in the airport area. Here you’ll find seven poke bowls to choose from, including the Spicy Tuna Poke Bowl with tuna, spicy mayo sauce, hijiki (a kind of seaweed), avocado, edamame, cucumber and crispy onions. The shop also carries a variety of other bowls, including plant-based (sweet potato, mushroom and eggplant, or mushroom and tofu), functional (think ingredients with immunity or brain boosting properties), health goal bowls (keto, superfood, etc.), and a build-your-own-bowl option.


Vegan Friendly

Sometimes you might want to just skip the meat and opt for plant-based bowls that are good for you, for the animals and for the environment. But it doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing flavor. Newport Beach chefs can creatively concoct a vegan bowl that will satisfy even the pickiest eater. Imagine a rainbow of raw vegetables, whole grains and proteins that don’t include any animal products.

“Our plant-based bowls contain up to 40 grams of protein and are balanced with healthy fats and carbs,” says Josh Leibowitz, owner of Vibe Organic Kitchen & Juice, “making them the perfect lunch or dinner for people who are health-conscious.”

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Vibe Organic Kitchen & Juice’s Mediterranean Bowl | Photo by Max Milla @mxmlla

For example, the Mediterranean Bowl from Vibe Organic Kitchen & Juice, located near the airport, packs in the produce with a chickpea frittata, diced cucumber, tomato, avocado, black lentils, purple cabbage, pickled onion and homemade hummus with a tahini drizzle.

“Our mission statement is ‘Rethinking food to live better longer,’ ” Leibowitz adds. “We aim to provide the best quality options in the area by serving food that is all organic, gluten free, plant based, prepared from scratch, with no seed oils and no refined sugar.”

Flower Child, in The Bluffs shopping center, serves various types of bowls—and other menu items—for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans. One plant-based option is the flavorful Mother Earth bowl, made with ancient grains, sweet potato, portobello mushroom, cucumber, avocado, charred onion, leafy greens, broccoli pesto, red pepper miso vinaigrette and hemp seed.

Forbidden Rice Bowl_credit Flower Child
Flower Child’s vegan Forbidden Rice bowl (top left), incorporating black pearl and red japonica rice, broccoli, bok choy, snap pea pods, carrots, onions, toasted sesame seeds and red chile hoisin sauce, shown with other dishes | Photo by Flower Child

Meanwhile, the menu at Parakeet Café focuses on using food as medicine by featuring high-quality, organic ingredients that are locally sourced. This is something that owners Carol Roizen and Jonathan Goldwasser learned when their young daughter was fighting a rare disease.

“Our commitment is to serve real food, made with real ingredients, that is super nourishing and also delicious,” Roizen says.

The Thai Vegan Bowl consists of pickled butternut squash, cucumbers, roasted baby carrots, radicchio, shallots, mint, quinoa and hazelnut miso with a coconut-lemongrass dressing, and the option to add avocado or grilled salmon.

Roizen adds, “I personally love bowls because I really enjoy the experience of savoring a bite that has multiple textures and flavors all at once. It’s like a party in my mouth and each bite brings a new experience.”

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