Zeal!, the new restaurant on east Pearl Street taking the place of the old H Burger, has the goal of appealing to all Boulderites interested in eating healthfully … no matter how you define that.
Think the Paleo diet is “the world’s healthiest diet”, as the founder claims? Choose the interesting cauliflower “rice” instead of a grain in the Build Your Own Bowl. Believe cutting out meat is the way to go? There are plenty of options for you, including the “plant burger” (read vege burger) with cashew cheese. Raw? Try one of four “cold pressed” juices. Gluten-free? Sandwich on gluten-free oat baguette. Macrobiotic? The Macro bowl with steamed rice, veggies, sea vegetables, house ferments, and two sauces.
Of course, if the food doesn’t taste good, being served your perfect healthy meal is a disappointment in the end. In general, my wife and I found the food flavorful at Zeal. My Build Your Own Bowl with spicy diavolo sauce (be aware – can include conventional rather than organic ingredients) was very flavorful with a nice blend of unique vegetables including carrots, brocoli, onions, beets, greens, and more.
The atmosphere of Zeal is nice with sort of a upscale fast-casual premise. There are as many bar seats as dining tables, which encourages both a quick drink (they do serve alcohol) as well as lingering with a computer, coffee-shop style, as three patrons were doing when we dined. For fast casual, prices are high. The Build Your Own Bowl, sort of the main dinner option, ranges from $10 with no protein to $17 with beef. Compared that to $5-7 for something similar at the Whole Foods deli.
Our biggest complaint is the restaurant seems to cater to every avid healthy eater in Boulder except those who know the most about eating healthy – dietitians. Both our bowls were heavy on the oil used to stir fry the dish and, as any dietitian will tell you, go light on the oil. We’ll try it again but will ask the chef to do just that.
Our verdict? Zeal is worth checking out so you can eat healthfully … the way you define it.