Even though the peak lunch hours at Bowl Café are usually hopping with customers, I still feel like it's one of my "secret spots" in the city. While I enjoy their menu of salads, soups, sandwiches, and pizzas year-round, summer is my favorite time to visit and my trips to Bowl increase in frequency come June.
My appetite dips in the summer months, a combination of heat, humidity, and the increased exposure of bare skin. I want cool, clean veggies and light sandwiches; the occasional bowl of soup with some toast or crackers; a bit of fruit, and lots and lots of water.
As I embark upon my fourth summer in Houston, the weather has become only incrementally less challenging. I look around at people in amazement: Runners on the Rice Loop at high noon, in July! Crisp businessfolk, strolling Urban Harvest downtown in suits under the broiling sun, looking impossibly fresh! Ladies who lunch, all in unwrinkled linen! I often wonder--how do you people do it?!
If I can't achieve cool and crisp in my appearance (and I can't) I at least seek it out on my plate in summer months, and Bowl Café fits the bill every time. It's convenient if you're in the Montrose/Museum District/Rice U. area, and the menu is--to me--the perfect size: lots to choose from so you can mix it up a lot, but not so huge as to feel unwieldy. My least favorite menu is the one that leaves you unsure of where to look or how to choose, especially in a restaurant like Bowl, that offers counter service. Holding up the line, and being held up in a line, because of open-mouthed menu-gaping is no good.
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Assemble your own salad from the a la carte menu, or choose from their "Suggested Salads" options (I love the Greek and the Montrose options; $7.50 and $8.25, respectively). The soup menu rotates seasonal flavors, and always has something tempting to dip a sandwich into--butternut squash, summer veggies, roasted corn bisques, and the like. Even the flatbread pizzas are summer-friendly, with thin, light crusts and well-balanced toppings; is there anything worse than a personal flatbread pizza that's overweight with toppings? Well, yes, lots of things, but that thing still sucks and Bowl doesn't do it--they just do a perfect flatbread, each time. They even offer a big jug of cucumber water at the help-yourself-beverage counter! I don't know what it is about cucumber that makes water more refreshing, but it works. Thanks, Bowl--for everything, in advance, all summer long.