These casual lunch spots have some hidden gems and pitfalls. Follow these do’s and don’ts the next time you order.  

Soup and sandwich restaurants are usually a healthy option for a quick meal. But like any restaurant menu, there are some not-so-obvious traps to avoid. Every restaurant is different, of course; use your judgment and ask around for what the best menu picks are.

5 Dishes to Skip


Bread Bowl

Edible vessels are really just a gimmick these days, the bread bowl being a prime example. You end up with a small loaf as a single serving, and depending on how much of the middle is hollowed out, you could be getting very little actual soup. Go ahead and skip this one.

Fruit on Fruit on Fruit Salad

Berry or apple-centric salads usually contain two or three kinds of fruit and a sweetened yogurt dressing to top it off. Read: sugar, sugar, sugar. You’d likely be better off drinking a smoothie for lunch instead.

Bread with a Side of Bread

Torn pieces of great bread or crackers are usually available at soup and sandwich joints as a side for any dish, sandwiches included. If you’ve already got bread on your plate, opt for a different side.

Seafood Chowder, with Exceptions

If you happen to be in an area where seafood is the specialty, this soup may be worth the splurge. Otherwise, you’re looking at a high calorie dish with minimal or less-than-fresh seafood.

Mile High Sandwiches

It is in fact possible to have too much of a good thing. Many restaurant sandwiches can hold a scalable wall’s worth of sliced cold cuts. If one lands on your plate, set at least half the meat aside for taking home.

5 Dishes to Order


Half a sandwich or salad and a cup of soup is a nicely balanced lunch. You also get to try more than one thing. Try a soup that contrasts your main: a veggie option if there’s meat in your sandwich, or a heartier soup if the salad is on the lighter side.

Credit: Photo: Victor Protasio


Many sandwiches on the menu are likely also available as wraps, a good lower carb option. Choose a whole-wheat or sprouted wrap option if available.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Fruit, If Available

Sides at soup and sandwich restaurants tend to be limited to chips, a pickle spear, mayo-based coleslaw, and maybe a chunk of bread. If available, grab a whole apple or orange instead or in addition to another side.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Salad with Hearty Greens

Go for dark, leafy greens (spinach, kale, or a mixed leaf blend) instead of iceberg. Lettuce usually makes up the bulk of restaurant salads; pick one with more benefits and better flavor.

Credit: Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Unsweetened iced tea

You’re not limited to water at restaurants. Many casual eateries now have several unsweetened tea options that are tastier and more interesting than what comes from the soda fountain, without the added sugar.