Boloco: Make Your Own Bowl or Burrito


If you live in New England, Boloco is probably already on your radar. Its burritos come in flavors inspired by many cuisines—you could call them wraps, really, since only a couple of the choices are typical Mexican fare. Their menu has many options for those trying to avoid heartburn.

The best option for GERD is to make your own bowl or burrito. Walk down the ingredient line to see what’s there, as it can be tough to find all of the options just by reading the menu. My most recent bowl (pictured here) featured quinoa, baby kale, broccoli, chicken, black beans, corn salsa, carrots, cilantro, and cheese. I also recommend the roasted mushrooms, butternut squash, carnitas, celery, pinto beans, beets, cucumbers, and brown rice.

I didn’t put a sauce on this particular bowl because the ingredients have so much flavor. The Thai peanut and tikka masala sauces are both delicious, but you’ll want to order them on the side and use sparingly to spare your throat.

Sometimes I order a mini burrito so I can save room for a shake. The Jimmy Carter (peanut butter, banana, and yogurt) is my favorite, but the seasonal pumpkin shake is a welcome treat as well. Boloco is a restaurant WIN in many ways!


Schoolhouse Pizza: Chicken, Artichoke & Pesto Pizza


Trying to eat less pizza has been a struggle since I started meal planning to prevent heartburn. As a native Chicagoan, I used to eat pizza many times each week. Now the acidic tomatoes, pungent garlic, and high-fat cheese make pizza a GERD problem. Still, I refuse to stop my experiments.

I thought I had figured it out. Schoolhouse Pizza in Quincy has a surprisingly highbrow menu for the South Shore of Boston. I haven’t found any other neighborhood joints with arugula, grilled pears, and truffle oil as toppings or salad fixings. I thought the CPA pizza would be perfect: pesto, artichoke hearts, grilled chicken, and a bit of cheese.

I miscalculated on this one, however. I expected a light smear of pesto on the crust, but instead, the pizza came with red sauce and with a generous helping of pesto. There must have been a half-cup of the green stuff on this pizza, and it oozed oil everywhere. Check out the leftovers on my plate.


Sadly, I have to label this meal a restaurant FAIL for heartburn. However, I recommend Schoolhouse Pizza to anyone who’s not trying to prevent GERD. You won’t find better pizza or salad in the neighborhood. This one caused me GERD grief, but it certainly tasted great.

Punjab Cafe: Dal Makhni


Punjab Cafe was highly recommended by a friend who’s been eating there since childhood. It took me a while to try it because there’s a good Indian restaurant closer to the subway station (in Quincy, a few miles south of Boston). But after trying this incredible food, I doubt I’ll go back to the other place.

I ordered Dal Makhni on my first visit, and it was so great that I got it the next time too. This dish has black lentils cooked with mild spices and topped with fresh cilantro. The lentils have the perfect bite, and the sauce is herbaceous without being spicy. This combination can be difficult to find on a curry-filled menu. Also, the long-grain rice is fragrant and so delicious. During my first meal here, I found a whole cardamom pod in the rice bowl, so I knew it was legit.

I didn’t order an appetizer, but every table gets a trio of dips with crispy cumin-seed crackers. The crackers are flavorful, but I don’t recommend the dips for GERD—they are all acidic and spicy.


This meal was a restaurant win, but only because I was careful. I didn’t order appetizers or any buttery, filling naan. And although I ate my entire dish of dal, I didn’t have a ton of rice. (Overfilling the stomach is a common cause of acid reflux.) If you can resist the curries and keep yourself from digging into the dips, you can have a reflux-free Indian meal.

Life Alive: The Alchemist Demi Bowl


I am beyond in love with Life Alive, a vegetarian restaurant and juice bar in Cambridge. The ambiance is pure hippie, with a kale dispenser on the wall and free ukulele performances in the basement. And the food is phenomenal! I don’t know what they put in the sauces, but they make a bowl of vegetables and grains more craveable than I thought it could be.

You can order any dish on the menu over a quinoa mix or as a wrap. Bowls come in regular size and half (demi) size. I recommend the demi bowl if you also want to try something from the juice and smoothie bar. On this visit I had the Thrive Alive, a juice with carrot, apple, and ginger.


My favorite meal at Life Alive is The Adventurer, but I’ve also enjoyed the Green Goddess. This time I wanted to branch out, so I had The Alchemist: a mix of corn, kale, carrots, sprouted legumes, sesame seeds, and Ginger Nama Shoyu sauce over quinoa. The Ginger Nama Shoyu sauce is by far the best on the menu, but I’ve never had a bad meal here. Everything is flavorful, and I feel energized after ingesting so many vegetables!

As long as you don’t overeat and you avoid the juices with citrus, Life Alive is a restaurant win. I’m sure the sauces contain some garlic, but it’s not overpowering and has never caused me problems. I recommend bringing visitors (who aren’t meat-obsessed) here to give them a food experience they may not expect to find in the Boston area.

Westville: Market Veggie Plate


Westville, a casual eatery with several NYC locations, serves so many vegetables. At the Chelsea location I was excited to see the names of their veggie options painted right on the building! This list lured me in after a weekend of decadent New York meals.


Instead of a typical brunch, I ordered the market plate, which gives the choice of four vegetable sides. Restaurant veggies are often doused in oil, cheese, vinegar, or citrus, so I looked at this with the goal of preventing acid reflux. From about two dozen options, I chose these:

  • Sauteed kale with shallots: This was delicious! The kale was tender and bright green. I picked out the shallot pieces and didn’t have a problem with heartburn—but I enjoyed the flavor the shallots left behind.
  • Artichoke hearts with parmesan: The waitress said the artichokes were roasted, but it seemed like they were canned—which means they were soaked in acidic liquid. The dominant taste was lemon, so these weren’t a good choice for me. At least there wasn’t too much cheese . . . but I ate only about half of these.
  • Mixed mushrooms with leeks and herbs: I’ve never been served a plain pile of mushrooms like this. They didn’t have much herb flavor, so I reached my mushroom limit about halfway through the pile.
  • Autumn quinoa salad: Do people describe quinoa as “al dente”? They should; this quinoa was perfectly cooked and maintained its shape and springiness. It was a treat mixed with butternut squash, parsley, and possibly honey in the sauce.

I was satisfied with this meal overall. It made me feel good to sit in front of a plate full of only vegetables. One of the choices was mediocre in taste, and one of them was bad for heartburn—but the helpings were more than enough to fill me up. I’ll judge this a restaurant win. I would return to Westville, although next time I’d try an entree.