Top Tastes: Best Healthy Bowls in St. Petersburg and on St. Pete Beach
Eating healthy while dining out is no small feat. Butter is the preferred cooking fat for almost every protein, salad dressings often contain loads of hidden sugars, and “smoothie” is not always synonymous with “healthy meal alternative.” Restaurants solely dedicated to serving a healthy menu are pretty difficult to find. Sure, many restaurants offer salads as a healthy dining option, and perhaps a bowl if you’re lucky.
For this week’s Top Tastes, I sampled three different restaurants in search of the best healthy bowls: Naked Farmer (downtown St. Pete), Fresh Factory, and Playa Bowls (both St. Pete Beach). Here’s my rundown:
Most Options, But Not So Healthy: Playa Bowls ($12+)
Playa Bowls definitely had the largest menu of the three eateries we sampled. They offer a long list of ingredient options for their smoothies and blended bowls ($11-13 each) with options for banana, oatmeal, pitaya, kale, coconut, açaí and chia pudding as bases.
I enjoyed all the add-on options for the bowls — from protein powders and bee pollen to matcha and goji berries. I also loved the juice selection and cold coffee concoctions. But their food is not exactly healthy. Sure, a pressed juice can be great if it doesn’t have loads of agave or artificial sweeteners in it. And while Playa Bowls makes their own granola, it has 27 grams of added sugar — definitely not healthy — but tasty in moderation.
Seasonal Healthy Bowls: Naked Farmer ($14+)
For a healthy food option or lunch on-the-go, Naked Farmer is great. They offer seasonal menus that include loads of fresh produce and a decent number of protein options for all preferences.
The drawbacks: Their online menu doesn’t always reflect what is available at the brick-and-mortar (so don’t get excited until you arrive in person) and expect simple flavors. This self-proclaimed “farm-to-table” restaurant (if 500 miles is considered such) uses mainly olive oil, lemon and sea salt in the majority of their food preparation, so it’s not super exciting. This place wins best intention (I disagree with how they label themselves but I appreciate their sustainable food efforts) and for best potato salad. Don’t pass up the potato salad… if they have it.
My Favorite Healthy Bowls: Fresh Factory ($12-14)
Fresh Factory feels random in St. Pete Beach, but their food is relatively healthy and tasty. Like many Gulf Beaches eateries, they offer smoothies, açaí bowls, salads, snacks, and uniquely, charcuterie. I snacked on a one-person charcuterie board ($12) that had cheese, meat, grapes, pickled veggies, crackers and pesto. It was lovely!
Fair warning — if you want charcuterie for two, four, or 10 people, you must pre-order. The quinoa salad bowl ($13) came with grilled chicken and lots of other yummies but was too salty (and its components too mismatched) for my liking.
I’d like to see more ingredient variety for their bowls and smoothies to set them apart from their competition but Fresh Factory deserves snaps for add-ons like collagen, MCT oil, and vegan protein powder. And they definitely win points for originality with the charcuterie. Highly recommend!
Fresh Factory, 7350 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. 727-290-6954, eatatfreshfactory.com