Some people might be fooled by the all the Tacos, Tex-Mex, and BBQ, but Austin has been called one of the fittest and healthiest cities in America. Running/biking on Ladybird Lake, Cycling, laps at Deep Eddy Pool, Crux Climbing Center, hiking around Hamilton Pool, Paddle Boarding are the epicenter of the city. Honestly, the only way to actually be 100% sure you are eating healthy is to eat at home, but get real, going out is all the fun! Here are my top picks and how I edit some restaurants for Healthy Eats in Austin.
- Picnik – the lines are clear here as the mission of this restaurant is Gluten-Free, Peanut-Free, Soy-Free, Corn-Free (which has a trailer and to-go food in South Austin and a casual, sit down north on Burnet). They even have a Whole3o menu alternative. Basically, if you are dining with a bunch of people who have allergies or crazy diet constraints, this is the ONLY safe place to go and where you won’t be embarrassed. I like the Loaded Guacamole with Almond Flour Chips, Thai Green Curry, Beef Stew, Fish of the Day, and Blondie.
- Honest Mary’s – I hate to break it to you, but all the cute grain bowls, salad spots and poké shops across the country have hidden calories. While I love Flower Child, I can taste all of the sugar in the sweet potatoes and cauliflower, and while they are incredibly tasty and vegetables, I know they are caloric. However, at Honest Mary’s, it is all in the name! It tastes like what I would make at home and the proteins are cooked perfectly. I can trust that this salad bowl is indeed low in calorie and sugar. Go for the Songbird with Black Forbidden Rice, Steamed Kale, Rainbow Carrots, Beets, Pumpkin Seeds which is all dairy free and gluten free. I added Grilled Naturally Raised Chicken and didn’t even need the dressing.
- Casa de Luz – This macrobiotic, ayurvedic, vegan, “safe place,” gives you the same feelings after letting it all out at a yoga class. It’s peaceful, healthful, communal, and has the best deal in town. $12 for soup, salad, and the entreé of the day which always includes some sort of kale with almond sauce, beans, rice, and main event. My favorite is the guacamole taco or butternut squash.
- Elizabeth Street Cafe – The Vietnamese Cafe and French Bakery may have Chocolate Croissants and homemade bahn mi’s but there are several ways to end up on the healthy side here. Go for the wonton soup made with clear broth, order the Snapper Bun sans vermicelli and extra spinach, you can always get a steeping bowl of pho without noodles and add extra veg with a side of rice as well. It’s easy to be creative here without sacrificing great flavor!
- Bouldin Creek Cafe – This vegetarian restaurant is pretty basic and an easy menu to navigate. While I love the sweet potato tamales, there is an array of salad options. Go for the scrambled eggs, broccoli, tomato, and toast!
- Henbit – The Emmer & Rye team opened this fast casual outpost at the new Fareground food hall. The Lemongrass Shrimp Bowl is light and filling enough at the same time.
- Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon– This is the only Mexican restaurant that has sides chockfull of dressed up veggies instead of rice and refried beans. Stick to the sweet potatoes and beets over the flash fried, sweet brussels sprouts (if you want to be healthier! otherwise these sprouts are awesome). The Jerez Salad with Power Greens, Marinated Chickpeas, Spicy Carrots, Pepitas, and Queso Fresco is my go-to salad. Because I’m me, I have to say the Rice Krispie Treat ice cream is one of the best flavors and texture in town!
- Josephine House – The farm to table cottage in historic Clarksville is full of vegetable salads freshly placed on the marble in front of the kitchen window. They change seasonally, and there is always a big chopped salad on the menu filled with sweet treats like dates, dried cherries, nuts, and seeds.
- Kinda Tropical- This east side spot is gas station, meets bodega, meets cafe. The Rainbow Rice Bowl has the most comforting rice hiding underneath all the veggies like cabbage, cucumber, hers, and carrots. Add a fried egg on top! Also, the Sweet Potatoes with Miso Butter can be your dessert.
- Forthright – Nothing fancy but gets the job done during work. Salads, soup, and toasts, and it’s ready in under 10 minutes.
- Poké-Poké – When you can add kale to a poké bowl, it’s got to be healthier than those mayo-y sauces elsewhere.
- Vinaigrette – These might be the most expensive salads in Austin, but it’s one of the only salad friendly places with an endless list of options and a lovely outdoor patio. Go for The Omega with leafy greens, corn, bell pepper, tomato, avocado, red onion, toasted pine nuts, chicken. It’s huge!
- Blue Dahlia Bistro – I also love the garden backyard at this East Side spot. Come for brunch and the Egg White Frittata with tomato, spinach, feta, and greens. It’s light, airy, and not overly buttered if buttered at all.
- Mother’s Cafe – I love that this restaurant has been here since 1980 before vegan’s new what vegan was. Texas is funny. I mean where else would you find an entire vegan and vegetarian Enchilada menu? Quiche, Sandwiches, Deluxe Nachos, etc. Maybe stay away from the burrito…
- MAD Greens – It’s hard to find smart lunch choices downtown and without walking around Royal Blue Grocery five times. MAD Greens has finally opened with salads, wraps, juices, and soups.
***BONUS: Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden– Well, the food options might be Leroy & Lewis BBQ and Pueblo Viejo, BUT they offer house made sodas and kombucha, so if you are looking for a cool coffee bar but staying off the liquor, this place is perfect. Vodka with Garden Basil and Honeydew + Aloe Seltzer sounds about right.