Cheap Eats: Sean's Harvest Market

The second location of the lunch and smoothie joint serves up healthy grub in Midtown

Almost certainly, the greatest plight of the nine-to-five office worker struggling to stay healthy is going out for lunch. Ruled by the "fast, cheap, good" mantra, many midday lunch joints encourage carbs and grease. But Sean's Harvest Market, the soup/sandwich/smoothie shop that opened in the former Joli Kobe space on Peachtree Street this March (and whose original walk-up location resides in Morningside's Amsterdam Walk), balances all three. The counter-service setup is relatively quick: On a recent visit, I joined a line about a dozen-deep and was able to walk out with a bag of fresh-made food in hand within 10 minutes. The prices, while not necessarily dirt-cheap, are fair, considering the quality of the ingredients and the dishes themselves. Which brings us to "good," an area in which Sean's definitely hits the nail on the head. Not only are many of Sean's wares locally sourced, the flavor combinations that make up its menu of sandwiches, salads, and other dishes are a refreshing change from your average sandwich shop fare.

'HOOD HARVEST: Sean's takes a lot of pride in the ingredients it uses. (You'll likely notice this from the moment you set foot inside the front door and are greeted with an artfully arranged spread — a cornucopia, dare we say — of its pantry provisions.) Dishes are made to order, everything is made in-house on a daily basis, and the menu of offerings changes each day based on what's in the kitchen. The market also uses local products and ingredients where it can: You'll find a glowing King of Pops case and a rack full of JavaVino's Dirty Nekkid coffee right next to the shelves of Breadgarden bread, baked right around the corner on Amsterdam Avenue.

LIQUID LUNCH: As someone who finds pleasure in the act of actually chewing my food, I tend to take my meals in solid form. But it's worth noting that, in addition to its regular menu, Sean's also offers a full lineup of smoothies ($5-$6) from its juice bar. The blended-to-order concoctions run the gamut from light and refreshing (e.g., the carrot, apple, ginger, and basil-spiked Sam Wise) to options that read more like dessert dishes (see: the Elvis, a combo of espresso, banana, peanut butter, chocolate, and cinnamon). There's also a full range of coffee drinks, espresso beverages, and tea, if you need a boost of energy that pulverized kale just can't quite provide.

LEAN CUISINE: With high-end juice bars on one end of the spectrum and greasy fast food on the other, it often seems like "healthy" and "affordable" are mutually exclusive. Sean's, however, manages to strike a comfortable balance between the two, offering a solid menu of options that will bust neither your budget nor your gut. Take their Killer Guac Burrito ($8), for instance. While burritos can often feel like Kryptonite for your afternoon productivity, Sean's serves up a version filled with what seems like a farmers market's worth of wholesome stuff: white bean ceviche, quinoa, corn salad, creamy guacamole, carrots, arugula, and most importantly, nary a drop of grease in sight. It was packed with flavor and had this devoted carnivore totally smitten. Salads ($7) are bursting with color, texture, and the occasional unexpected addition: the Hearts in Santa Fe pairs protein-packed hemp hearts with charred corn salsa on romaine. Not a bad alternative to yet another garden salad. Note, however, that the truffle-topped macaroni and cheese offers an indulgent alternative to all this healthy fare, not to mention the breakfast biscuits served all day.

You aren't going to find $5 foot-longs here. Expect to pay a little extra for that local bread and wait a little longer in line for those made-to-order salads. Of course, this means Sean's is not a perfect daily go-to for everyone. But if your ideal lunch is less about basic ham-and-cheese served up freaky-fast, and more about good ingredients used in unexpected ways, then Sean's has an $8 Thai tuna melt with your name on it.