20 Terrific Houston Restaurants for Eating Healthy While Staying Social
For me -- and, I imagine, for a lot of people -- the toughest part about dieting is when you're confronted with eating out. Unless you're dining in a chain restaurant, it's tough to count calories or know what the sodium or fat content of any given dish is. And I can pretty much guarantee you that neither your server nor the cooks know, either.
Photo by Troy Fields Keep it light with ceviche at La Fisheria.
Yet dining out is often unavoidable. We've turned restaurants into entertainment venues, and that's where we meet up with friends instead of entertaining at home. We entertain clients and conduct business meetings over lunches and dinners. We eat out for sport in Houston. And it's tough to turn down a dinner invitation in many social situations.
"Dieting?" your friends or boss will scoff. "Order a salad!" But you don't want a salad at every meal. Or perhaps you've wised up to the fact that salads aren't nearly as healthy as the advertising industry has tricked us into believing. Regardless of the reason, no one wants to get stuck eating lettuce leaves at a restaurant while everyone around them is gnawing on steaks and sucking down wine.
Fortunately, there are plenty of Houston restaurants that accommodate both parties: the dieters and the non-dieters alike. Below is a list of 20 restaurants where you can find good, thoughtful, delicious meals -- healthy or not.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt Quinoa and black bean burger at Adair Kitchen.
At breakfast, have a bowl of steel-cut oats with fruit or build your own egg-white omelet. At lunch or dinner, look for light items such as a grilled chicken quinoa bowl with mixed greens, black bean-quinoa burgers, grilled pesto salmon and lean turkey meatloaf.
Although it's tempting to feast at both of chef Hugo Ortega's restaurants, there are healthier dishes to be found here. Backstreet features separate, thoughtfully-composed menus for both vegetarians and gluten-free diners. And Hugo's also has a vegetarian menu alongside such vibrant dishes as smoky grilled chicken in an ancho chile sauce and traditional grilled huachinango (red snapper) with roasted vegetables.
The Lebanese chicken fattoush salad at Barnaby's is one of the greatest salads in existence, but you can also stay healthy with a selection of four different veggie burgers, grilled salmon and grilled chicken. For breakfast, Bob's Healthy Plate with six egg whites and apple-chicken sausages is practically legendary. For anyone who wants to do the opposite of diet: blue cheese waffle fries.
Look under the "Hot Plates" section of the menu to find grilled favorites such as mesquite-grilled chicken and vegetables, chicken with wild rice and seared ahi tuna. Still craving a burger? Try the "burger in a bowl" dishes like The Kitchen Sink, The Volcano and the Luv Ya Blue.
Photo by Troy Fields Chicken salad at benjy's.
Sure, there's the comforting crunchy chicken with gratin potatoes that beckons each time. But just as good are dishes such as grilled salmon with root vegetables and a cauliflower-olive salad or the Milton's Warm 10 Vegetable Salad with grilled chicken.
The vegan section of this Vietnamese menu isn't the only place you'll find healthy food. Cafe TH has partnered with Washington Gym to create specific paleo-friendly dishes like spaghetti squash topped with chargrilled beef and vegetables that's a noodle-free version of bun. But there are still gut-busting dishes like the 9-inch long Zombie banh mi to be found, too.
Since The Counter allows you to endlessly customize your burger, you can hold the bun entirely, make it a turkey or vegan patty and top it with an array of vegetables from roasted green chiles to marinated artichokes while your dining buddy sucks down a cheeseburger and shake.