Rejoice: You Can Eat Healthy In Midtown

TastingTablePhoto: Todd Coleman/ Courtesy of The Tasting Table.
Girl #1, gazing at her lentil salad: "What is this?"
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Girl #2: "I don't know. Like, kale? Do you like kale?"
Girl #1: "I have no idea."
One of the few drawbacks of eating at The Little Beet in the beating heart of midtown: You're in Midtown — just a few tourist-clogged blocks from TGI Fridays, Tad's Steakhouse, and the ghost of Cats.
But, the mere fact that this airy, two-story, well-meaning, gluten-free, non-GMO, fast-casual spot exists in this neighborhood is reason enough to have lunch there. It's earnest in all the right ways, from the highly detailed compost-recycling-trash bins, to the vegetable-inspired artwork on the walls.
But, back to your lunch. There are fresh salads (beets! And, hey, look — kale!), including a seasonal number that combines arugula with roasted butternut squash, hazelnuts, apples and Parmesan cheese ($7). Their grilled chicken is an extra you'd actually want to order ($12.50); ours was juicy and obviously came right off the grill.
Platter upon platter of hot and cold side dishes ($4.50 each; $11.50 for three) beckon from a long serving case. Make a smorgasbord out of options, like said lentil salad with avocado, oranges, pecans, ginger, and kale; heads of grilled radicchio; and blistered green beans.
When we visited, the order-at-the-counter process was a little convoluted, but a free sample of brothy cauliflower soup while we waited, as well as the honest-to-goodness, "aw-shucks" smiles on all of the employees' faces, erased any misgivings.
Not to be outdone, even the living plant wall is a breath of fresh air.