When you’re a senior in college (like I am), and you don’t have class until 3:35 pm on Wednesdays (like me), and your best friend, Haylie, says she wants avocado toast for lunch (like mine did), you hop in your car and drive eight miles down the road to Durham.
Going to Durham is pretty taboo for UNC-Chapel Hill students. It’s home to Duke University (AKA the worst place on earth). But, Durham is also home to Happy + Hale, a Mecca for anyone who loves pretty things like salads, grain bowls and juices.
Walking into Happy + Hale is like walking into a co-op. Natural wood tables stand on concrete floors and green plants dangle from the ceiling like chandeliers of clean-eating. The ordering counter is long and stainless–like Chipotle but sleeker, brighter and way less grungy. The green plus sign that links the casual restaurant’s name is like a health food first aid symbol.
Customers have the option to order off the menu or to build their own salad or wrap.
The menu consists of seasonal items like the warm “Happy Harissa” bowl; signature bowls and salads like the mint, dill and parsley packed “Happy Herbs” salad; cold pressed juices; all-day breakfast; and smoothies.
I had the seasonal, warm “Buddha Bowl.” It came with organic black lentils, roasted brussels sprouts, curry cauliflower, roasted carrots, chili roasted pumpkin seeds, avocado and a curry yogurt dressing. I added tofu.
The bowl was delicious. Every aspect was well-seasoned and perfectly cooked. The lentils had a hearty flavor, which paired well with the roasted, slightly charred veggies. The avocado added a creaminess to the dish and the curried cauliflower gave the bowl a savory, slightly sweet and earthy layer. My favorite was the yogurt dressing, which had hints of mint and parsley and brought the whole dish together.
I also had a glass of the “Happy Water,” an amped up version of H2O with lots of lemon and herbs.
Haylie, of course, had the mashed avocado on multigrain toast, topped with red pepper flakes, olive oil and capers. She hates capers (and red pepper flakes, and most vegetables) but forgot to ask for them to be taken off. I love capers, but I found it bizarre to have them with avocado on toast. Regardless, the avo toast was really delicious with a generous portion of green goodness on two big slices of bread.
We both drove home full + happy. With a few more visits, we should be hale too.