The Future of Fast (Casual)
"Fast casual," the only sector of the restaurant industry that has seen consistent growth since the recession, is placing heavy emphasis on nutrition. Fast-casual concepts like LYFE Kitchen, Freshii, and chef Franklin Becker's recently opened The Little Beet are pushing to create quality menus that put health at the forefront. Even high-end chefs are embracing the potential of healthy fast casual with their newest ventures, such as José Andrés' Beefsteak and Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi's Loco'l. While flavor remains a priority in dishes like LYFE's Quinoa Crunch Bowl or Freshii's Spicy Lemongrass Soup, chefs keep calories and fat in check by letting fresh ingredients shine with minimal tampering and keep sodium low by skillfully seasoning dishes with fresh herbs and acidity. If you are road-tripping this holiday season, see if your route takes you by one of these healthier options—any excuse to skip the drive-through is a good one.