Customizable food bowls are the hottest thing going at lunchtime, and seemingly nowhere in the city are bowls more prevalent than Rittenhouse Square.

The variety is vast. Count on the usual fare such as salads and stir-fries, but even "cheesesteaks" and mac and cheese.

Here are nine ideas:


Queen Bee at Wokworks, 1935 Chestnut St.

Brennan Foxman, now all of 25, has started his fourth year at Wokworks, his Asian-inspired, fast-casual drop-in near 20th and Chestnut Streets. All manner of stir-fries are the way to go here - bam bam steak, a deep-fried (yet organic) riff on General Tso's chicken called General Cheng's chicken, and chicken teriyaki are big sellers. When you're skipping meat, the Queen Bee is the way to go. So simple: stir-fried carrot noodles, kale, broccoli, bok choy, and sesame glaze. At $9.50, it's not exactly a sterling value, but it's an explosion of flavor.

Snap Custom Pizza

The Veracruz grain bowl at Snap Custom Pizza, 1504 Sansom St.

Snap Custom Pizza, a growing, local mini-chain that allows control freaks and their friends to choose dozens of pizza toppings for one price, has a salad menu, as well. When a salad isn't quite what you're after but a pizza is too much, go for the middle ground: one of two grain bowls ($8.99). The Garden Bowl is all-veggie and built on farro, while the Veracruz starts with kale and protein-packed quinoa and adds chicken, queso blanco, grape tomatoes, chickpeas, corn, avocado, tortilla strips, and a sweet-and-zingy cilantro lime jalapeno dressing whose amount you can control (ask for "half," and you'll be happy). Filling, too.


A make-your-own bowl at Cleavers, 108 S. 18th St.

Cleavers is one of Center City's better cheesesteak shops, and it's not just because of the beer case and spiked milkshakes. Beef, chicken, and other ingredients are top-of-the-line, and the choices are vast. Management eliminates the roll on request, effectively turning the insides of the sandwiches into a bowl. This can set up a true dilemma, because Cleavers' dense rolls - from Conshohocken Bakery - are outstanding. Of course, everything is customizable. The one photographed ($10) has roasted red peppers, sauteed spinach, hot banana peppers, and char-grilled white meat chicken beneath mozzarella cheese.

Mac Mart

The Rittenhouse at Mac Mart, 104 S. 18th St.

Young entrepreneur Marti Lieberman got her start with Mac Mart, a food truck at Drexel University, in 2013. She came in from the cold over the summer, setting up a cheery storefront on 18th Street off Chestnut to sell her topped elbows, whose usual base is a seven-cheese mac and cheese. Among the menu favorites is the Rittenhouse ($8.75), whose topping is garlic-sautéed spinach and artichoke dip and a potato chip panko crunch. Like the others, it should come with a gym membership.

Hai Street Kitchen 

Poke bowl at Hai Street Kitchen, 32 S. 18th St.

Hai Street Kitchen's signature food product is the oversized sushi burrito, a nori-wrapped rice roll that fuses at least two cuisines. You can get the ingredients - chicken katsu, shrimp tempura, tataki salmon - in a bowl, too, of course. Lately, HSK has joined the poké craze, topping spring mix with cubes of marinated fish (ahi tuna and two preparations of salmon). It's a lighter option ($10.95).

Revolution Taco  

The chicken tinga burrito bowl at Revolution Taco, 2031 Walnut St.

Revolution Taco, also run by food truckers seeking the brick-and-mortar life, thinks outside the shell and wrap. Not only are the varieties on the "cheffy" side (chipotle BBQ brisket, smoked mushroom, fried curried cauliflower), Carolyn Nguyen and Michael Sultan offer the proteins served as burrito bowls ($8 for vegetarian, $10 for meat varieties).

Chix & Bowls

Teriyaki chicken bowl at Chix & Bowls, 28 S. 20th St.

The partners from Chix & Wings, on 11th Street near Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, decided to go more health-conscious when they ventured crosstown onto 20th Street near Chestnut. Chix & Bowls specializes in rice bowls, based on chicken, beef, pork, and shrimp. Each bowl ($7.59 or $8.95) is accompanied by two vegetables - all with Asian flavorings including spicy cucumber, diced pickled radish, and sesame carrots. The veggie bowls ($5.95) get three sides.  


"Make It Grain" salad at Honeygrow, 110 S. 16th St.

The rising stir-fry/salad chain Honeygrow's first location is on 16th Street, just north of Sansom, and the long lines attest to the tasty, customizable combos. Since acquiring the chef services of culinary director David Katz, the offerings have become more sophisticated. One of the newer salads is the "Make It Grain," which has wheat berries, red quinoa, organic arugula, grapes, roasted carrots, feta, and roasted cashews topped with orange sherry vinaigrette.

Real Food Eatery

A platter at Real Food Eatery, 207 S. 16th St.

At the cafe-style Real Food Eatery, which opened over the summer across from the FedEx/Kinko's shop on 16th Street just south of Walnut, owners John Colasante and Mike Mangold offer a veggie bowl, a berry salad, and a cobb caesar salad ($7.50 or $8.25). Which are tasty enough. The heart of the menu, though, consists of platters: delicious, seared-to-order proteins, backed by two hot and cold sides from a selection of 10. The center-of-the-plate options include portobello mushroom cap, meatballs, grass-fed sirloin, wild Cajun shrimp, and salmon filet. (Above is a plate of chicken thighs over jasmine rice, with sides of kale slaw and sweet potato hummus.)