Healthy fast food? It sounds like an oxymoron but it’s actually a thing now in D.C. British fast food chain LEON came up with the idea of serving fast food items that follow the basic principles of the Mediterranean diet, in other words dishes that feature veggies, herbs, spices, olive oil and nuts. After expanding across Europe, they just opened their U.S. first location and it happens to be in D.C. So, it’s healthy and it’s fast. The question is: does it taste good?
I went in with neutral expectations, because, well it is fast food. Note: fast food is not fast casual. Fast casual is when they quickly construct your meal while you wait in line, with choices of ingredients and dressings. Fast food is what we all loved as kids but now only eat when drunk. Food that you order at a counter and is presented to you in under a minute.
My impression was one of pleasant surprise, as soon as I saw the menu. There is a large selection of items and a ton of vegetarian and vegan options. The best item I tried was the halloumi wrap, which was a combination of halloumi cheese, avocado, tomatoes and garlic aioli, so really, how could you go wrong? The black bean bowl was a surprise win; at first, I was like just beans and rice sounds meh. But it had a ton of seasoning, plus sweet roasted carrots and onions and the beans had a great rich and creamy texture. The Portobello and grilled halloumi sandwich was the “meatiest” thing I ate the combination of Portobello with halloumi felt like when Monica and Chandler first got together: weird at first but then you realize it’s the perfect match.
The baked waffle fries presented the biggest shocker. I am the girl who only gets a sandwich because it’s a vehicle to get to the fries. In other words, I am a French fry junkie and the idea of baked fries just did not appeal to me. But somehow, I couldn’t tell the difference. Crunchy, savory and spicy from paprika these fries well surpassed my expectations. I would order them any day in a heartbeat.
What makes the most of the dishes a win are that they serve all of your favorite fast food items (like fries) and just modify them to make them healthier. Falafel are made with sweet potatoes, cookies are made with almond flour, and donuts are baked not fried. Prices are higher than other fast food options and are more in line with fast casual prices. Most of the wraps and sandwiches range from $6 to $9, and if you add fries and a drink you will definitely be over $10. This is likely because of the quality of ingredients. You’re not going to find halloumi cheese at McDonald’s.
The menu has many other items as well, hummus, gluten free dishes, desserts and even breakfast sandwiches. Next time you are in the mood for a fast but still tasty meal, swing by LEON. Delivery will be available soon.
LEON, 1724 L St. NW, Washington D.C. 200036