Eating Paleo at Restaurants


Screen-Shot-2012-09-03-at-5.42.48-PM-300x221.pngWe all eat out, no matter how strictly Paleo we are. If you don’t, you should think about getting out more.

Here are some tips for staying as Paleo as possible on your excursions to restaurants.

  • First off, pick a restaurant that uses fresh ingredients. Honestly, the yuppier/hipper/foodier the restaurant, the better the hands you’re in. They’re often the ones who source local, organic, grass-fed, pastured products and know their menus and ingredients inside out.
  • Get a salad and order extra meat or hard boiled eggs if it doesn’t already come with enough protein. Ask for olive oil and vinegar as dressing.
  • Order a burger – no bun – and a salad with a side of guacamole or plain avocado.
  • Order a meat, chicken, or fish entrée with extra veggies.
  • At Asian restaurants, especially Thai, you can order curry without the rice. Remember to ask for your dish to be made with no MSG.
  • At Mexican restaurants, have the fajitas with no rice and beans.

Now, of course you’re probably still going to be making some concessions by doing even those things. At most restaurants, besides the hippest of them all, the oil they’ll inevitably use will probably be corn, soy, or some other atrocity. The meat will most likely be factory farmed. Nothing will be organic, and something might be breaded or full of dairy, even though the waitstaff might tell you differently. I once had to educate a waitress who insisted that butter was not dairy and I would be fine if I ate it.

So if you’re being as strict as possible, as these kinds of questions of your waitstaff:

• What kind of oil is (enter menu item here) sautéed in?
• Is the chicken (or any other meat) battered in flour?
• Is there milk, butter, or cheese on that?

Pretty soon you’ll get to know what things you can order at your favorite restaurants, or you’ll find new favorite restaurants. I like to go to H Burger in Boulder because they have grass-fed beef burgers with sweet potato fries. Granted, they’re fried in oil that has soy in it, but sometimes a girl’s gotta have her burger and fries.

Sometimes it’s difficult or even inappropriate to hammer the waiter with a bunch of specific food queries. Maybe you’re at an important business lunch and you need to seem easy-going. In those cases, it’s often easy to order individual sides rather than a normal meal on the menu. For instance, for breakfasts, you could order a side of sausage, a side of steamed veggies, a side of avocado, and a side of fruit. It’s often easier to order what you want than what you don’t want.

Remember though, most restaurants are in the business of serving food you enjoy, so don’t be afraid to ask for changes if you need them. Just make sure you are polite, smile, and tip for the extra effort you’re requesting.

There’s also a really cool app for the iPhone called PaleoGoGo that provides you with meal suggestions for over three hundred of the nation’s top chain restaurants. And if you want even more restaurants to provide you with Paleo options, sign our We Want Paleo petition to have restaurants in your city hear your voice. In the meantime, we can hope that a restaurant like this one will crop up in our neighborhoods…


Anyone else have any tips?