Honest Mary’s: A Great Way to Kick Off the New Year

Mary Miller, Executive Editor

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As the new year begins and resolutions are put in place, finding a nutritious meal on the go can be a challenge. Honest Mary’s, a fast-casual eatery located in the Great Hills Market shopping center, strives to make healthy eating a more accessible option by serving grain bowls packed with locally grown, organic ingredients. The restaurant opened its doors in 2017 and has quickly become a popular dining destination for health-conscious Austinites.

The interior of the restaurant has a modern-industrial feel, combining exposed pipes with more classic design elements such as the patterned tiles that line the walls and shelves. A black wall features a neon sign with the words “honest to goodness,” creating contrast against the white paint used throughout the rest of the restaurant. The large windows provide ample lighting, which is supplemented by black and white industrial lamps that hang on the walls and ceiling. Old books, potted plants, and monochromatic cookware can be found perched on floating shelves, filling the walls alongside a few rustic tapestries. The careful placement of each decor item contributes to the comfortable ambience.

There are several seating options inside the restaurant, including barstools at communal tables, booths, and normal dining tables. When I arrived at around 12:45 p.m., over half of the tables were filled and a line was growing rapidly. The food was served in an assembly line, which kept the crowd moving quickly despite the large volume of orders. Customers had the option to buy one of six signature bowls or customize their own, and the servers were patient with me as I made my selections. I ended up ordering three of the most popular bowls, the Golden Grain, the Sedona Lime, and the Camp Gladiator, each costing about $9.

The first bowl that I tried was the Camp Gladiator, a seasonal special that combines wild arugula, roasted organic tomatoes, spaghetti squash, peppers, onions, goat cheese, and fresh lemon, all topped with a basil crema sauce. I added grilled chicken for an extra $3.50, a decision that ended up being well worth the price. Advertised as a low-carb option, the bowl was a fantastic blend of distinct textures and flavors that left me craving it for days after my visit. While the chicken did not have a lot of spice, its mild flavor was the perfect complement to the spaghetti squash, whose sweetness permeated through every bite. The tomatoes provided a warmth that helped maintain the bowl’s melt-in-your-mouth appeal, and the peppers and onions were delicious as well. My only gripe with this bowl was the addition of goat cheese on top, but this was just a personal preference and could be easily fixed by replacing the cheese with a dollop of the basil crema sauce.

Next up, I tried the Sedona Lime bowl, complete with basmati lime rice, organic spinach, black beans, Texas sweet potatoes, and toasted pumpkin seeds. I decided to add avocado as well in order to try more combinations. This entree was a true showstopper, combining the crunchy pumpkin seeds and the soft sweet potatoes seamlessly while still allowing each individual flavor to shine through. The basmati rice introduced a hint of sweetness to balance out the more savory flavors, and the spinach served as the leafy base that complemented every other element. Fans of Chipotle will love this combination, as the black beans and avocado bring a taste reminiscent of a classic burrito bowl.

The final bowl that I sampled was the Golden Grain, which offered tricolored quinoa, arugula, apples, Texas beets, crispy chickpeas, goat cheese, and toasted pecans (which I opted to remove due to a nut allergy) served with an apple cider vinaigrette on the side. The chickpeas were the star ingredient, making every bite extra special with their superb seasoning. Another standout was the quinoa, which provided an even distribution of flavor throughout the bowl. The beets were good as well, but the bowl had too many for my liking and they ended up overpowering some of the quinoa and arugula. Altogether, the textures of the different ingredients did not blend together as well as they had in the other bowls. If I were to order this again, I would substitute the apples and beets for other alternatives.

Overall, Honest Mary’s really surprised me with their simple yet delicious options. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed each signature bowl, I left the restaurant even more excited by the possibilities of customizing my perfect order on my next visit. Between their clever decor, amazing food, and quick service, Honest Mary’s is the restaurant to try if you are wanting a quick and healthy meal.

Overall Rating: four out of five stars

Honest Mary’s

9828 Great Hills Trail #300 | Austin, TX

(512) 953-8427

Monday – Sunday  11 a.m. – 9 p.m.