bites of bull city
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HEN YOU LIVE IN THE South, eating healthy and eating well don’t always go hand in hand. I love cheesy grits, smoked barbecue, fried chicken and butter-slathered biscuits as much as the next person, but I can’t eat like that every day. When it’s time to switch things up with something a bit lighter, it’s good to know we have options for that, too. When Happy + Hale expanded from Raleigh to Durham a couple years ago, it fulfilled a niche that was lacking in the area: fast-casual and super health-conscious. This beautiful modern space on Ninth Street is connected to Yoga Off East (which is actually transitioning to a new space across the street from Happy + Hale in the former Play House Toy Store in early 2019) and is within close walking distance to Duke University, making it a popular spot with the students. We love that Happy + Hale salads are fresh and customizable, and the owners continue to listen to customers’ requests, most recently expanding the menu to include add-ons, such as house-made hummus and falafel. Sometimes, we go to Happy + Hale just to get a healthy boost of antioxidants in the form
of a fruit smoothie or bowl, like the acai bowl with bananas, blueberries and coconut shavings on top. You can also find acai on the menu at Jamba Juice on Ninth Street as well as Bull and Bean. Acai bowls are one of my favorite ways to get a jolt of refreshing fruit! And eating “green” isn’t just about eating leafy greens; it’s also about focusing on items that are fresh, full of nutrients, packed with flavor and satisfying. The Refectory Café is very much in tune with this, as Founder and CEO Laura Hall has a deep appreciation for nutrition and the abundance of great, farm-fresh menu items available in North Carolina, not to mention the fish. “Since opening in 2005, The Refectory Café has focused on ‘clean food’ made from scratch,” Laura says. “No high-fructose corn syrup, no hydrogenated fats and as much local and organic as possible!” No matter your diet or preference, there are so many delicious, healthy options that keep people coming back for more, like seasonal salads, scratch-made soups, salmon filets, vegan tofu coconut curry and Indian dal. Luna Rotisserie & Empanadas downtown has really hit their stride with vegan and vegetarian dishes, instating “Meatless Martes” (“Tuesday,” in Spanish) to give vegans and vegetarians another night (aside from “Meatless Mondays”) to get unique, chef-driven meals. Chef and owner Shawn Stokes ate vegetarian for five years and still tries to eat a predominantly plant-based diet, so offering plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes on Luna’s menu was important to him. “It also became clear to me when we decided to participate in the Bull City Vegan Challenge in 2016 that there is a large, growing market out there for these foods that hasn’t been fully taken advantage of here in Durham,” he says, which is what compelled him to start “Meatless Martes” in the first place.
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