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Where to Go For Soups, Salads, and Healthy Sandwiches Tonight (No Chains, No Upscale Places)

After playing some really slow, really sluggish tennis last night, I realize that I need to cut back on all the eating I've been doing lately. Any ideas for a sit-down place with healthy soups, salads, and sandwiches somewhere inside Route 128? I don't want to go to Panera, Bear Rock Cafe, or any other chains, and I'm not interested in upscale places like Darwin's, Hi-Rise, and Flour Bakery.

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    1. re: shaebones

      Is Zalek's a fairly new place? There is NOTHING on the Internet about it for some reason. What do they have on the menu? How are their prices? What's the atmosphere like?


      1. re: hiddenboston

        See this link for Zaleks chatter. Its very casual, order at the counter, paper plates BUT the place is immaculate and the food is GREAT, very affordable. Last night's special was swordfish kabob w rice and greek salad for $9.95. Its behind CVS and ax from the police station in Wakefield. A local favorite. Please post your impression if you go. They have been open about a year. Bon apetit!

    2. How about Za in Arlington. I don't remember if they serve soups, but they have pretty interesting salads.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ali G

        Alas, Za does not have soup. I keep hoping they'll add it.

      2. Okay, so I know none of these are real soup & sandwich type places, but...
        I'm in Cambridge and Cambridge 1 and Greek Corner tend to be on the top of my healthy eating list. There are a few tables at Cafe Kiraz (formerly Cafe Podima) but no table service. Same deal at Veggie Planet (I quite like their "pizzas" on whole wheat flatbread, but find that their salads can be underseasoned or OVER-garlicky. Spinach salad with french lentils is fantastic). I forget that Baraka Cafe on Pearl Street can be healthy depending on what you order - their salads are delightful. There's always Pho. Shredded cabbage salad, soup. Any of the kebob places, too.

        Miracle of Science is really quite good for healthy, delicious food. I absolutely love their grilled chicken salad with cilantro lime dressing, and the grilled shrimp skewers are awesome - served with black bean salad, mint slaw, tortillas, though I often substitute the cilantro-dressed greens. I probably eat these two dishes at least 2-3 times per week.

        FWIW, I had my first sandwich from Hi-Rise last night and was hugely disappointed. I always hated the place because of the vibe, but still braved the crowds for some brown bread (fantastic!) now and again. I have no idea what all the fuss is about. 9 bucks for a boring sandwich? Huge does not equal good.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MB fka MB

          Y'know, I've driven by Cafe Kiraz several times now and have always wondered how it is. That might be a good choice. And I forgot all about Miracle of Science. Thanks--I may look into one of these (or try Zalek's in Wakefield!).

          1. re: MB fka MB

            I love Hi-Rise's cheddar pepper bread on Friday and Sunday but I think their salads are way overpriced and unexciting.

            1. re: MB fka MB

              Here is another BIG VOTE for Cafe Kiraz (formerly Cafe Podima)!! Their decore isn't great, but if you're looking for someplace healthy to eat regularly, not a romantic/pretty dining experience, they are PERFECT! They have all kinds of inventive salad combos and will make any substitutions you want (I personally love their Grilled Peach & Grilled Plum Salad with sliced almonds or their Roasted Beets Salad with corn & goat cheese). Their sandwiches and soups are just as tasty and varied and they also offer frozen yogurt with a crazy variety of mix-ins for dessert. There's a Cafe Podima in Boston too (used to be the sister store, both still have the same menu) on Cambridge St.


            2. Christopher's in Porter Sq has a pub atmosphere and a nice assortment of:

              a) Healthy options
              b) Unhealthy options
              c) Unhealthy options that sound healthy so you can lie to yourself and say you're actually eating healthy

              The tastiness of the food varies considerably from dish to dish, but I can personally vouch for the homemade veggie burger (not to mention the decidedly less healthy real burger), various salads, and soups.

              1. Petisco's on Medford St in Somerville offers a large number of Brazilian "caldos," at least in the winter. Some of them are heavier than you are looking for (mocoto), so I would suggest something like caldo de pinto or frango. The caldo de feijao might be ok (beans and kale) and if they have canjiquinha (sort of like grits with pork spare ribs) that is worth it, but definately a meal. More out of the way is Cafe da fazenda in Everett which had some soups, but most were frozen and reheated. Both have sandwiches (simple is better: mortadella or ham/cheese) and at least Petiscos has blended juices (try acerola for vitamin C or acai for energy).

                Sunset Cafe in Cambridge has excellent caldo verde (kale and potato) and a decent acorda alentejana (garlic and bread), but not as much in the way of salads. Portugalia is one of the few portugese restaurants offering Canja (chicken, rice, etc soup), as does Restaurante Cesaria in Dorchester. Both Sunset and Portugalia have bar seating, where you might be able to get a bifana or prego (small pork or steak sandwiches). The Snack Bar is open again and you could get an acceptable, but not great, caldo verde and a beef prego there.

                Also the moqueca capixaba at Muqueca or Oasis would probably fit the bill (the baiana is a bit too heavy) and both can blend you smoothies.

                Update: One other thought after reading the board, Something Savory is a bit higher end, but at lunch they have sandwiches and they have soups (tropical gazpacho last time I went there, but generally its more chowders).

                1. Audubon has the salads and sandwiches (served with greens instead of fries, even!). I don't remember any soups, though.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cmd

                    Yup, Audubon has soup - I've ordered the half grilled cheese with tomato bisque with a glass of dry, crisp white on occasion for a light snack.

                  2. Something Savory in Arlington had some chilled soups as specials, plus the regular chowders, and a few salads. They offer sandwiches at lunch - not sure if you could try and order them at dinner.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Dax

                      My understanding is the sandwiches are lunch only (til 4pm maybe?) and they wouldn't let a member of our party order one the cubano at dinner several months back. Perhaps they have relaxed this since...

                    2. Lobello's Italian is excellent in Brookline!!!

                      1. While I've been underwhelmed by Darwin's on Mt. Auburn for some time now, I recently tried the newer location on Cambridge St, and have found my new favorite "healthy sandwich" (for non-healthy sandwiches I go elsewhere, like Blue Ribbon).

                        My search for healthy sandwiches has been necessitated by pregnancy: cold cuts are on the "no" list. Darwin's on Cambridge has The Kirkland sandwich. It's basically the best version of a cold veggie sandwich I've found because it's loaded with cruchy veggies, and full-flavored. Imagine a reuben minus corned beef, yet plus layers of fresh tomato, peppers, cheese, and crucnchy slaw, flavored with russian and horseradish. Pumpernickel is an unstated requirement. It's got a lot of zip, and several servings of your daily veg requirement :)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: vanna f.k.a. babette

                          You might give some of the tofu/vegetable bahn mi's a try for a somewhat healthy sandwich. Maybe Gallerygirl can expound on which places have the best options.

                          1. re: vanna f.k.a. babette

                            Also, Cafe Kiraz in Cambridge puts out some fantastic vegetarian sandwiches. Even this carnivore often prefers their veggie offerings. Some great portobello sandwiches, also a veggie sandwich with beets, goat cheese, caramelized onions, greens, all on foccacia (IIRC).

                          2. The Mission, in Brigham Circle/Mission Hill is a very nice place that has a good selection of salads, soups, and sandwiches. (They also have burgers, pasta, Italian, etc.). Here's their sandwich menu:

                            Turkey Burger - Fresh hand-made ground turkey patties with lettuce, tomato & onion on a roll with a side of cranberry relish $7.99
                            Grilled Marinated Portabella Mushrooms - with mixed greens, tomato, roasted red peppers, roasted shallots and Brie on a fresh roll $7.99
                            * Mission Burger - Fresh hand-made patty ground chuck with lettuce, tomato and onion with a choice of any 2 toppings $7.99
                            Toppings .75 - Vermont cheddar, Swiss cheese, Gorgonzola, house-made mozzarella, roasted red peppers, smoked bacon, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, avocado.
                            * Chicken Sandwich - Marinated grilled breast of chicken, choice of barbecue, pesto or Cajun. Served with lettuce, tomato and onion on a toasted roll $7.99
                            Smoked Turkey Club - with lettuce, tomato, bacon and mayo served on your choice of bread $7.99
                            * Open faced grilled steak sandwich - Served on toasted bun with onions, mushrooms, red pepper and crumbled blue cheese $8.99
                            * Tempura Fried Fish Sandwich - Served on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, onion and a side of tarter sauce $7.99
                            Chicken Salad - wrapped in a grilled flour tortilla or your choice of bread with lettuce, tomato and onion. $6.99
                            BLT - Applewood smoked bacon, lettuce and tomato on your choice of bread $7.50
                            Grilled Reuben - lean pastrami, house made coleslaw and melted swisson rye $7.50
                            Tuna Melt - all white tuna meat, melted Swiss cheese, lemon mayo and tomato served on your choice of bread $7.50

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Bostonbob3

                              Oh, sorry Marc. Didn't notice that you originated this thread. I KNOW you've aleady been to The Mission.

                              1. re: Bostonbob3

                                I like the Mission, but would never consider it healthy.

                                1. re: a l i c e

                                  They do have healthy food at the Mission, but I can't get past their burgers...

                                  1. re: hiddenboston

                                    Yeah, their turkey burger and the portobello sandwich seem VERY healthy. Plus, I think they have 3-4 salads, a few soups, and a daily salad and soup special. But I agree with Marc; it's hard to pass up things like the chicken saltimboca, or the burger. In fact, I had one there last night. It's no Tim's, but it was pretty tasty. Also sampled my friend's veal bolagnase on pappardelle. Nice.

                            2. Hi,

                              There's a fairly new place in Quincy Center, in the Munroe Place building in front of the T station, called Eatin' Healthy. They make great salads, homemade soups, low fat burgers, veggie burgers, etc. Most of the veggies are organic, and all the deli meats are nitrite free. The food is quite tasty. It's not part of a chain; just one store.


                              1. Don't know about healthy but New England Soup Kitchen near the Station Street train stop in Brookline (Pearl Street?) has a nice selection of soups, sandwiches and salads. Soups tend to be a bit salty for me but they actually taste like someone made them from scratch.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: teezeetoo

                                  I have long been curious about the NE Soup Kitchen. Isn't it near Brookline Village?? Has anyone else been? Is the consensus, that they load everything up with salt??

                                  1. re: VivreManger

                                    It is in Brookline Village, around the back of one of those office buildings. There's a lot with a gate but they validate parking tickets, so parking for at least a short time (1 hour?) is free. There's a second one on Highland Ave on the Needham/Newton border, near the newish strip malls, adjacent to Splash. Both places get very busy at lunch, but the line moves quickly.

                                    I love this place and don't find the soups too salty. It's not cheap, but if you get a larger size and take the leftovers home, it's not bad. (They serve in plastic containers and provide lids, so that's easily done.) And the salads are always fresh. Never tried a sandwich. Menu changes all the time, but we recently had a mushroom soup that was divine and a good spicy shrimp soup.

                                    They also have frozen soups, which are just the thing to bring to new parents, sick friends, etc. I've never tried their frozen latkes, but I've been tempted.

                                    I only wish they'd open in Harvard Sq instead of the salty, boring Boston Chowda place in the Garage.

                                    1. re: LauraBear

                                      There is one in Newton too. While pricier, the soups and salads, and most of the sandwiches and wraps, are MUCH better than those found across the street at Fresh City. While I realize that is not saying a lot, I do like NESK for what it is. I am pretty sure they go heavy on the butter and cream in the non-vegetarian soups though, so take note.

                                2. Dax- the place that you are referring to in Newton is not the New England Soup Kitchen. It is the Soup Factory- I don;t know if the one in Brookline is also a Soup FActory or a different outfit called the Soup Kitchen????

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: emilief

                                    I meant the New England Soup Factory. Yes, both are NESFs. Apparently there also used to be one on Boylston across from the Pru back in 2000 or so.