It’s 8 p.m. on a Wednesday. You just picked up your kids from their sports/dance/music practices. Everybody is hungry and tired. The kids still have homework to finish. It’s too late to cook. But by the time your food arrives at a sit down restaurant, it will be close to 9 p.m. Don’t panic and drive through McDonald’s. Here are four healthy fast food restaurants in the South Bay that won’t let you down at zero hour.
The Habit Burger Grill
311 N. Sepulveda Blvd., El Segundo
It’s a burger joint, but don’t roll your eyes. The Habit, with locations throughout California, manages to keep up the quality concept that began in 1969 at a burger stand in Santa Barbara. The burgers here ($2.95) are made from 100% lean beef, ground daily and char broiled on an open grill. The veggies on the burgers taste fresh: shredded lettuce, tomato, pineapple for the teriyaki burger, and avocado. There’s even real bacon on the bacon burger. Combine this with some French fries, sweet potato fries, or some of the best onion rings we’ve found in quite some time, and you’ve got a satisfying, non-greasy takeout option that is a step up from fast food. Other sandwich choices include a good fresh albacore tuna: this is not tuna salad, but a hand cut and fileted tuna steak with lettuce, tomato and a homemade tartar sauce; plus a tri-tip sandwich and a veggie burger. The salads are decent but not as satisfying as some of the sandwich choices. Feed a family of four for $30.00 or less.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
307 N. Sepulveda Blvd., El Segundo
The best thing about this “healthy Mexican” fast-food chain is that you can place your order online and pick it up at a designated time, with no wait in line. Even if you walk in, the streamlined, buffet-style set up at Chipotle means never having to wait too long for your food. The food is good for you, too. Chipotle claims to serve more naturally-raised meat than any other restaurant chain and relies on sustainably-raised food, locally and organically grown. The menu is simple with just a few options, but the meal becomes all yours depending on how you customize it. Choose from a burrito, a burrito bowl, soft tacos, crispy tacos or salad. For the burrito, start with a flour tortilla or just an empty bowl to cut calories, and add your choice of cilantro lime rice, pinto or vegetarian black beans, braised Barbacoa beef or carnitas pork, adobo marinated and grilled chicken or steak, plus salsa, cheese, sour cream and guacamole. Put all of the same over a salad, or soft or crispy tacos. It’s good, filling and healthy-tasting. Dinner for four runs about $30.00.
Whole Foods Market
760 S. Sepulveda Blvd., El Segundo
Make a beeline for the elaborate food court with endless made-to-order meal choices at this high-end grocery store. Order a fresh tuna sandwich with your choice of spreads and vegetable toppings, a hot and healthy pizza, or a plate of pasta customized and pan tossed to perfection before your eyes. Visit the Asian counter for made-to-order sushi or rice bowls, or the Mexican bar for made-to-order street tacos. Don’t forget about the huge salad bar with an endless array of vegetables, pasta and rice dishes. The deli counter offers a delicious Sonoma chicken salad with cranberries. Whatever your choice, you can find it pre-packaged or have it made-to-order. You can zip in and out for dinner, since this Whole Foods location tends to be much busier at lunchtime due to the nearby office crowd. There is something to satisfy every member of the family, no matter what they may be craving. It’s not cheap, but at least you can rest assured that you are feeding your family well.
Jersey Mike’s Subs
5342 Rosecrans Ave., Hawthorne
This sub chain is a cut above Subway and you can taste that in their sandwiches. High-quality meats, including certified Angus Beef top rounds, are trimmed and cooked in the store daily. All meats and cheeses are top quality, premium brands and the breads are fresh-baked each day in store. The meats, turkey and cheeses are sliced as you place your order. Add your choice of toppings or have your sandwich “Mike’s Way”, with onions, lettuce, tomato, vinegar, oil and spices. Go light with a tuna sandwich, salad or veggie wrap. Or live like a “Jersey Shore” regular and get a hot meatball sandwich. The service is fast and friendly. Jersey Mike’s is a nice option to add to your list of busy day sandwich shops.