14 Keto-Friendly Restaurants, According to Nutritionists
Once you've got a cooking routine down on keto—the high-fat, low-carb plan that restricts your carb intake to just 5%-10% of your daily calories—it can feel like you're finally in the groove. That is, until a friend or spouse asks you if you want to go out for dinner. Then, the panic sets in: What will I eat? Will I annoy everyone? Is keeping keto even possible at a restaurant?
First, take a breath: It's tough, but it's totally doable to do keto while you're dining out. "It is a common misconception that one cannot adhere to the ketogenic lifestyle if he or she is a frequent restaurant goer,"Aimee Aristotelous, RD, tells Health. You just have to be a little more mindful of your choice—and that means educating yourself on the hidden carbs on all restaurant menus, and go-to substitutions for carb-heavy ingredients.
First things first: Try to sub as many starches as you possibly can. "Always substitute green vegetables or salad in place of pasta, potatoes, and rice side dishes," says Aristotelous—that goes for subbing lettuce wraps for burger buns, too. It's also wise to add avocado or other healthy fats to any meal as much as possible. "For your extra healthy fat content, avocado tastes great on almost anything and many restaurants have it on hand to add to your meal," she says.
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You definitely need to be aware of the secret places carbs are hiding in your meals, too. Most restaurant sauces, glazes, and salad dressings, for example, are loaded with sugar, says Naomi Whittel, author of the upcoming book High Fiber Keto. She suggests asking for dishes to be served plain or with the dressing on the side. "You can always order olive oil to use instead" she says. Breading is something else to avoid if you're watching your carb intake, says Whittel; your best bet is sticking to foods that are sautéed, roasted, or grilled.
Lastly (and possibly most importantly): Do your homework before you step into a restaurant. "Not only can you check out the ingredients in your desired dish, but you can check the carb count to make sure it's on point," says Whittel. Bonus: Deciding on your order before you arrive can help you avoid impulse decisions or poor choices when you're hungry.
Still a little daunted as the thought of eating out on keto? No problem: Here, 14 keto-friendly restaurants—and a sample of a keto-compliant meal from each—to get you started.
1. True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen is Aristotelous’ number one pick when it comes to getting the healthiest keto-friendly dishes. “They even have a keto meal category on their menu, so it takes out all of the guesswork,” she explains. She also points out that the beef they use is grass-fed, “so that changes the composition of the fats to have a profile closer to salmon, and most of their entrees consist of a lot of fresh vegetables.” It's also best to ask for dressing on the side with this one.
Keto-Friendly Pick: Seasonal Ingredient Salad with Grass-Fed Beef
Per serving: 750 calories, 48g fat, 59g carbs, 31g protein
2. P. F. Chang’s
At first glance, Chinese food may seem out of the question on the keto diet (hi, rice and noodles!). But Aristotelous points out that P.F. Chang’s does offer many dishes that will fit in with your keto nutrition plan. This Asian Caesar Salad with Salmon is a great low-carb, high-fat option—just make sure to nix the croutons.
Keto-Friendly Pick: The Asian Caesar Salad with Croutons with Salmon
Per serving: 650 calories, 46g fat, 20g carbs, 37g protein
Yes, you can still go out to brunch when you’re doing keto -- and Denny’s makes it so simple with their customized omelet menu. Depending on what you get in your omelet and whether you opt for egg white or whole egg (keto calls for the whole!) your nutritional information will vary. But Aristotelous suggests trying three whole eggs, cheese, and avocado. Other keto-friendly fillings include cheese, spinach, bell pepper, bacon, and sausage.
Keto-Friendly Pick: Custom Omelet with Cheese and Avocado
Per serving: 465 calories, 4g carbs, 27g protein
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Out of the 25 U.S. burger chains, Burgerfi is one of the only two who received 'A' ratings for the cleanest beef, Aristotelous points out. “Their burgers contain no antibiotics, steroids, or growth hormones and since the keto lifestyle can be a bit heavy in animal products it is key to choose the highest quality to avoid environmental toxins.”
Per serving: 425 calories, 29g fat, 4g net carbs, 37g protein
5. In-N-Out Burger
This So-Cal burger joint is famous for their savory burgers and fries -- but ditch the bun and you are golden, suggests Whittel. “Be sure to order your burger ‘protein style’ to replace the bun with a lettuce wrap,” she suggests. If you want to go even lower with carbs, ditch their special sauce and choose mayo and mustard instead.
Keto-Friendly Choice: Cheeseburger with Onion Protein Style
Per serving: 330 calories, 25g fat, 11g carbs, 18g protein
6. Chipotle Mexican Grill
This fast food Mexican joint is more keto-friendly than ever. “Chipotle is now sporting a Lifestyle Menu to make ordering easier when on a special diet and have Paleo Bowl, Vegan Bowl and even a Keto Salad Bowl with carnitas, romaine Lettuce, salsa, cheese and of course, plenty of guac,” says Whittel. Be sure to skip the beans, rice, tortillas and chips, but mix and match with your favorite proteins and veggies, with this protein-packed bowl. An added bonus? Toppings like sour cream, cheese, salsa and avocado are all keto-friendly, she points out.
Keto-Friendly Choice: Keto Salad Bowl
Per serving: 550 calories, 42g fat, 15g carbs, 32g protein
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When you think of Subway, you think bread right? “As long as you skip the bread, the salads offer some low-carb options,” Whittel points out. While the Chicken and Bacon Ranch Chopped Salad is higher in fat than some of the other options, it will help you feel full, she explains.
Keto-Friendly Choice: Chicken and Bacon Ranch Chopped Salad
Per serving: 460 calories, 32g fat, 15g carbs, 32g protein
8. Panera Bread
Just because bread is in the name, doesn’t mean you have to eat it. There are plenty of keto-friendly options at Panera, including their delicious salads. “Many of Panera’s salads fit into a keto template, but I like this one because of the good fats from the eggs and avocado,” says Whittel. To reduce the carbs, she suggests skipping the salad dressing and asking for olive oil and vinegar instead.
Keto-Friendly Choice: Green Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken
Per serving: 550 calories, 32g fat, 25g carbs, 43g protein
Another family-friendly burger joint with endless bun-free opportunities. “Choose a single or double beef patty, skip the bun, add your favorite cheese and top with Smash Sauce, avocado, lettuce, pickles, onions and mushrooms,” Whittel suggests. As for a side, add a side salad or Brussels sprouts instead of fries.
Keto-Friendly Choice: Build Your Own Smashburger
Per serving: Nutrition info will vary.
10. Bonefish Grill
This seafood oriented joint has so many fishy keto-friendly options. “There are many low-carb seafood and meat options here and then you can add lemon butter or chimichurri sauce for flavor and get some veggies on the side,” Whittel says. Salmon and shrimp are great high-fat protein options.
Keto-Friendly Choice: Atlantic Salmon with Lemon Butter and House Side Salad
Per serving (Atlantic Salmon): 430 calories, 25g fat, 0g carbs, 50g protein
Per serving (Lemon Butter): 60 calories, 6g fat, 2g carbs, 0g protein
Per serving (House Side Salad): 240 calories, 19g fat, 13g carbs, 6g protein
11. Yard House
You can eat as keto-friendly as you want at Yard House, with their extensive menu of bun-less burgers, salads, daily fish, and even veggie noodles. This Shrimp Zoodle Bowl is a perfect example, says Whittel.
Per serving: 470 calories, 31g fat, 19g carbs, 28g protein
12. Outback Steakhouse
Any steakhouse is a great option for the keto diet, “just be sure to sub out the potato or other starchy sides for steamed veggies or a side salad,” advises Whittel. Also, you can add extra butter or olive oil to keep fat high.
Keto-Friendly Choice: Filet (6oz) and Grilled Lobster Tail + Steamed
Per serving (Filet and Lobster): 660 calories, 42g fat, 2g carbs, 66g protein
13. Olive Garden
An Italian restaurant might seem like a bad place for keto due to the abundance of bread and pasta, but Whittel reveals they are surprisingly keto-friendly. “Look for grilled meats and fishes, and antipasta salads,” she suggests. “Olive oil is an incredibly healthy fat!”
Keto-Friendly Choice: Chicken Margherita + Parmesan Crusted Zucchini
Per serving (Chicken Margherita): 550 calories 29g fat, 12g carbs, 63g protein
Per serving (Parmesan Crusted Zucchini): 80 calories, 5g fat, 1g carbs, 3g protein
14. Seasons 52
Seasons 52 is a great place for lots of delicious keto-friendly finds—and don’t overlook their extensive appetizer menu. “By adding the shrimp and avocado, the fat of the meal increases some to help balance out the high protein from the steak,” Whittel points out. “This is an option where adding some additional olive oil dressing might be helpful to bump the fat up to keto levels.”
Keto-Friendly Choice: Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Cocktail (appetizer) + Steak Salad
Per serving (Grilled Shrimp and Avocado): 220 calories, 12g fat, 7g carbs, 22g protein
Per serving (Steak Salad): 580 calories, 12g fat, 15g carbs, 39g protein
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