My friend Kenny and I were looking for a place to eat lunch together on Sunday and he mentioned to me that in his experience, it’s always a safe bet to find Paleo food at a steak house or Mexican restaurant, but he didn’t know what else was really available to us. I mentioned that we can also find Paleo-friendly foods at Mediterranean restaurants, seafood places, and Japanese restaurants to name a few.
We settled on Mediterranean and found a Turkish restaurant. The entire menu was quite Paleo-friendly with the exception of the rice and breads. We were able to order a salad with cucumber, red pepper, onions, tomato, and oil and lemon juice that was exceptionally delicious and refreshing. The second part of our lunch was kofta kebabs served with fries (yeah, not the most Paleo of foods, but the fries there were actually very lightly oiled and cooked in a pan). We also both ordered an appetizer because the main courses were VERY small, and I ordered liver that was cut into small pieces and grilled in a pan. These foods were all very tasty and filling. I left there satisfied and really feeling good.
Eating at restaurants as a Paleo adherent is inevitable, so you need to have a plan and stick to it. Don’t accept non-Paleo options: most restaurants can make Paleo-compliant meals for you without much extra effort.
I’ve found that nearly every restaurant can grill a piece of meat and also grill some vegetables. This is my go-to when they have nothing that I can eat. Otherwise, it’s pretty easy to find foods that are Paleo compliant: just look for those foods that you can picture or imagine all the ingredients of. It’s always okay to ask your server if there is any sugar in the food. Sometimes if they ask if I’m diabetic, I just say yes (because I was!) and they find out from the kitchen. I’ve been surprised more than a few times with finding out that sugar was, in fact, in a savory food.
The meat-centered dishes I’ve found that I can eat at restaurants are:
- Grilled shrimp
- Rotisserie or grilled chicken from Taco Cabana or El Pollo Loco
- Sausage (as long as it’s no-sugar added)
- Pulled Pork (I ask if the rub had sugar in it)
- Grilled fish
- Fajitas (chicken and beef)
- Grilled chicken breast (Lupe Tortilla has a great Chicken Lupe)
Notice that the chicken breast is at the bottom of the list. Almost any restaurant will have a piece of chicken somewhere, and as a last resort, you can have them grill one. I haven’t had to resort to this yet, but I almost did twice. It was an option I was glad I didn’t have to take.
As for vegetables, as long as you stay away from grains and beans, you can have anything. Most restaurants will have some sort of vegetables. They may not be the one you want, but it’s always better than the high-carb options most places use.
Good luck on your next trip out to eat! Let us know what you find, or what your experiences have been with eating Paleo in restaurants.