The Mediterranean bowl with salmon, crunchy chickpeas, spinach and mint yogurt at Boka Fresh Kitchen in Old Orchard Beach. Photo by Tim Cebula

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Explicitly healthy meals can be hard to come by in a town geared toward vacationers with an appetite for treats like fries, wings and New York-style pizza.

Boka Fresh Kitchen ends the search. Boka opened in mid-December at 5 Ocean Park Road – the former home of China Eatery – after painting the building a bright, cheerful yellow.

The interior is well-lighted, clean and uncluttered, with a handful of tall café tables and a green neon sign on the wall announcing the restaurant’s motto: “Eat healthy, live happy.”

Boka’s menu focuses entirely on bowls ($15.50-$17.50) and paninis ($13.95). The bowls come in six flavor profiles, including Mexicano, with items like jasmine rice, grilled jalapeno aioli, avocado and shredded beef; Hawaiian, with grilled pineapple, mango, roasted sweet potatoes and pork belly; and Thai, with Thai noodles, edamame, sriracha aioli and orange chicken.

The paninis come in five styles, including Italian with pepperoni, fresh mozzarella and pesto, or Sweet n’ Sour with chicken teriyaki, kale and grilled pineapple. Veggie options are available for both the bowls and paninis.

What’s more, you can build your own bowl ($16.50, not including Boka’s six premium ingredients, like avocado, feta cheese or chipotle hummus), choosing from a list of dozens of grains and starches, proteins, fruit and vegetable toppings, nuts, seeds and sauces.


As the only customer inside on a Wednesday afternoon, I was able to order right away. I chose the Mediterranean bowl ($17.50), with salmon, crunchy chickpeas, spinach, olives, quinoa, chipotle hummus, mint yogurt and feta.

The food arrived in less than five minutes, delivered to my table with a smile from the friendly server. The thin but moist and well-seasoned salmon filet that tops the bowl is served cold, all the better for not wilting the bowl’s greens, though the temperature might be a deal-breaker for some.

Overall, my bowl was an appealing mix of bright tastes and textures, from the briny crumbled feta and creamy mint-infused yogurt to the delightfully crisp chickpeas and spicy chipotle hummus. I preferred to think of the hummus as harissa-flavored, which seemed more in keeping with the bowl’s Mediterranean theme, but it lends lovely smoky heat to the mix regardless.

My quibbles were small, mostly regarding the proportions of some of the bowls ingredients – I’d personally want fewer red onions and olives and maybe some more quinoa, which was hard to find in the mix, though it may have gotten lost in some of the wetter ingredients. But those are issues I can easily address next time by simply letting the people behind the counter know my preferences. Better still, I may be motivated to build a bowl to my exact specs.

Boka makes an important addition to the town’s restaurant scene. It’s a gift in the off-season, when pickings are slim anyway. This summer, I expect it’ll be a godsend for vacationers looking for a fresh break from beach food indulgences.

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