There are the healthiest restaurants in America, and there are also the coolest restaurants in America—here are 17 eateries that blur the lines between the two categories.
Julia Fawal 1 / 18
We get it: sticking to a healthy diet is tough when you’re traveling. Air plane meals, hotel mini bars, and local novelty foods are tempting (who wants to say no to a heavy slab of Memphis ribs or cheesy Chicago deep dish pizza?). Plus, worrying about your abs is a bit of a downer when you’re trying to prepare for a big work pitch or explore a new city.
That’s why we’ve hunted down the coolest healthy joints in major cities across America. To do so, we combed through hundreds of Yelp reviews, local newspapers, and more. And don’t expect any standard “make your own salad” places on this list. There are no chains here. Every restaurant is unique to the city, giving you a literal taste of the town. So whether you’re trying to maintain the gains you’ve made this summer or you simply want to balance out the inevitable extra vacation brews, you’ll be prepared to stay on track no matter where you are.
Award-winning Italian food that won’t put you into a bloated food coma? Seems too good to be true, but Erbaluce delivers. Instead of using cream, olive oil or butter, head chef Charles Draghi makes his sauces with high-quality vegetables, herbs and spices for an all-around lighter (and, most importantly, awesome-tasting) meal.
This place makes it easy to order right—everything is under 500 calories and made with fresh, organic ingredients. Gluten free? No problem. Fuel can adjust. Check out their Instagram page for your daily dose of food porn featuring dishes like their protein pancakes, spicy chicken flatbreads, and the deconstructed guac salad.
Come for the farm-to-table fare, stay for the nightly live music. With everything from vegan lasagna made with polenta and tofu to the slow-braised brisket (smoked in-house), the menu is up to any dietary challenge.
The vibe is a bit more "California" than "Georgia," but this family-owned joint has been serving healthy dishes in the South for the past 30 years. Meals are made with cold-pressed organic oils, homegrown herbs from the family garden, and wild-caught fish. Best of all, it’s open 24/7, so you can skip the greasy late night 4th meal and the morning-after regret.
Bubu feels like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book for your stomach. Make your own bowl at this Asian-infusion eatery by picking a combo of locally sourced vegetables, a rice or noodle base, and your choice of protein. It’s fast-casual without veering into fast food territory, and there is an insane number of mix-and-match options.
We love their to-the-point motto, “Eat like you give a damn.” Almost everything is baked and cured in-house, and all of the ingredients are local and sustainable. Heads up: it closes at 2:30 pm every day, so get there early.
Honest cooking is the name of the game at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen. Even the flour is milled on-site. The regular menu features fresh and hearty dishes and is broadly described as “global cuisine,” but the owners host a Thai night twice a week.
Memphis might be one of the fattest cities in America, but that doesn’t mean you have to contribute to the title. This modern Japanese restaurant serves skewers of various veggies and meats such as garlic chicken, salmon with mustard dill, cremini mushrooms, and zucchini with soy sauce. Because everything is better grilled on a stick.
Grab a quick bite to eat in the Buckeye State’s capital. Northstar Café’s commitment to natural dining is evident all over the menu. The #1 fan favorite is a toss-up between the Northstar Burger (made with organic brown rice, black beans and beats) and the Buddha Bowls (pan-seared tofu or chicken with brown rice, peanut sauce and crunchy, bright veggies).
Start your day off right at this part-coffee shop, part-restaurant that’s known for it’s balanced, filling brunch menu. Choose from good-for-you grub like quinoa cakes with poached eggs, oven-roasted tomato and egg white sandwich, 10-grain oatmeal, chia seed pudding, and freshly squeezed juices.
Toss a stone and you’ll hit about three health-conscious eateries in LA. Blue Cow Kitchen finds a happy medium between the city’s basic juice bars and the over-the-top restaurants. It relies on local farms, ranches, fisheries and artisans for ingredients and décor, and the open kitchen gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into your meal.
Date night in the Capitol? Raw eating meets elegant dining at this downtown DC hotspot. The prix-fixe six-course menu costs a solid chunk of change (plus, the restaurant is only open on Friday nights so a bit of planning is required), but the consensus is that each flavorful, nutritious dish is worth it.
Hu Kitchen doesn’t mess around. Ingredients are as pre-industrial as possible, which means nothing on the menu has been chemically refined or altered. The focus is on 100% unprocessed, pure dishes without sacrificing taste. Stop by for a meal you’ll feel good about.
Just because their slogan is “Eat to Live” doesn’t mean you’re in for a bland meal. Sit down for a generous-sized portion of pasture-raised rotisserie chicken, and make sure to get some of their homemade Sriracha sauce.
Bright and colorful produce is everywhere at the fast-casual South American restaurant. Fresh ceviche, acai breakfast bowls, butter leaf fish tacos with mango, and quinoa salad tossed with local vegetables and pepitas are all on the menu. You’ll forget you’re even in Texas.
Burgers rarely come to mind when we want wholesome grub, but as long as you’re armed with a miniscule amount of common sense before entering Roam Artisan Burgers, you’ll be fine. Their base options include 100% grass-fed beef, free-range turkey, all-natural bison and an organic veggie burger—and there isn’t a trace of corn syrup, hormones, antibiotics, or added trans-fat anywhere on the menu. Up the health factor by swapping a bun for a lettuce wrap.