Eating out while on a restrictive diet: most probably the number one reason people give up a healthy lifestyle. It’s understandable. Eating out and socializing are a big part of our lifestyles and as important for our health as eating wholesome, healthy foods. And I’m here to encourage you to not make this your reason to give up, because there are always ways to work around it and keep your healthy habits even when eating out. And I might add, you can have a great experience and eat really good food. This is your guide to eating the plant paradox way in New York City.
Eating out guideline for plant paradoxers
I’m just back from a two week trip to New York City and a quick detour to Martha’s Vineyard, and I’ve stayed complaint all along. I allowed myself few little indulgences, like a fresh from the sea seaweed salad at a fish market that probably had a little bit of soy sauce in it (although I don’t know for sure) but it was the best food I’ve had during this holiday and felt absolutely perfect during and after eating it.
So I’ve compiled a list with all the places where I had a bite outside home (my sister’s home in NYC), so you don’t have to spend that much time searching options every day. But before that, few notes on what helped and made it easier to stay compliant on a two week vacation.
I had Lectin Shield with me. I only took it 3 or 4 times, but it is the best thing to do to have peace of mind if you are not completely sure the food you order is compliant. I personally took it when I didn’t want to be bothered asking too many details about a dressing for example, or when I wanted to experience some Danish food my husband was very excited about (he is Danish). I do not recommend cheating big though, like taking Lectin Shield and have a pizza or pasta or donuts. You might want to do it but I have no idea what the consequences on your health would be, especially if you have an autoimmune condition. And you certainly don’t want a flare in the middle of your trip.
The best bet when you start looking for restaurants are authentic Italian and Greek restaurants. Because they always use olive oil for cooking, and the rest is easy to figure out. But don’t go into deep fried items, I’m not sure if they would use olive oil (most probably not). Stick with the fish and seafood. Most of them have a fish of the day or a seafood plate, simply cooked, with sautéed seasonal and local vegetables (which you can easily ask questions about). The other type of restaurants that tend to offer food that can be easily made compliant, are the new concepts, those who offer food around different diets (like paleo and keto), or focused on plant based, sustainable, local, organic food. Don’t expect to have any compliant food in a fast food, but there are few exceptions, like Bareburger, where is relatively easy to get a compliant item.
Intermittent fasting makes life on a trip much easier (and keeps you alert, healthy and happy too). There were never three meals in my trip. I always skipped early morning meals and I would only worry about lunch and dinner.
When you are in transit, on the road, it’s hard to find compliant food, so make sure you always have compliant snacks with you. I had approved Quest Bars (which I only had a bite of, but it gave me peace of mind to know I have an option), I had Terra or Barnana green plantain chips whenever I’d find them, and a new chocolate I found In New York City, The Good Chocolate, which is amazing and almost complaint (not all of them though), because it has a small quantity of mesquite powder in it which I’m not sure but it might have some lectins. I had it the entire trip and never felt bad from it, on the contrary, so if I start finding it in Dallas I’ll continue to eat it.
Whole Foods is everywhere in NYC and you will always find compliant food there, or groceries if you have a place where to cook. Luckily we got to prepare some really nice dinners at my sister’s place, we even baked carrot muffins, walnut bread and made some granola for her.
Nine restaurants in New York City where I ate the plant paradox way
Bareburger – I had no idea about this chain, I found it by coincidence while checking google maps. This was my first time this trip eating out in NYC and I didn’t know what to expect from it, so I took Lectin Shield before the meal. I ordered from the ‘make your own burger’ menu and I chose the grass fed bison patty, avocado, organic greens, all wrapped in Collard greens. It was super tasty and an interesting way to eat a burger. For all their fried or sautéed items they use canola oil, but if you stick with raw items (or blanched, as the collard greens are) you will be fine.
Mr. Purple – This is a fancy bar with an artsy vibe on the rooftop of Indigo Hotel in Lower East Side Manhattan. If you want some of the best NYC views and a bowl of complainant salad, this is the place to go. I had kale and Brussel sprouts salad, with pistachio vinaigrette and pecorino cheese. This was an example of working with the waiter to make the salad fully compliant. I asked how the Brussel sprouts are cooked, and since they were cooked in a non-compliant vegetable or peanut oil, the chef suggested he shaves them and add them raw, which I was perfectly good with. Next time I had the salad I asked for half avocado on top. I loved how graceful and helpful the staff were and it made the experience enjoyable. Plus, I have a new idea of salad, because I loved the combination between baby kale, raw brussel spouts and pistachios.
Hu Kitchen – to find this one I searched for paleo restaurants in NYC. There were few but this one was close and it seemed the most popular. You might know the name, they also have a brand of chocolate (which has sugar in it unfortunately). A place where you don’t need to ask about oils because they only use avocado and olive oil, and most of their dishes are compliant (there are few using quinoa and nightshades, but there is a big selection of plant paradox compliant food. I had some grass fed steak with some super yummy veggie sides including, sweet potatoes, kale, book choi, cabbage and some other stuff. Unfortunately, their snack and packaged food section is not plant paradox friendly. There are always some chia seeds, cashews, almonds with skin or coconut sugar involved. I could not find one single item compliant.
Taverna di Bacco – A super small and cosy authentic Italian restaurant in Lower East Side Manhattan, whose Italian chef and owner, Maurizio Crescenzo has gained some popularity for being the winner of the TV series CHOPPED. The menu is simple, using seasonal ingredients, and even has grass fed steak in it. The food is cooked in old Italian style, in olive oil. We started with a cheese platter appetizer, and for main I had the fish of the day, with was sustainably caught yellowfin tuna steak, cooked to perfection, with a side of sautéed broccoli rabe. The amount of tuna was double than what I could eat, but it was perfect to share with my husband, who had cauliflower ravioli for the main dish.
Eataly – I was familiar with Eataly from Dubai, located in Dubai Mall, in walking distance from my workplace. But I completely forgot about it until I saw it again in NYC. I absolutely love the place, minus the fact that is always crowded, but something’s gonna give right? You might say it’s hard to stay compliant in a place where pizza and pasta are celebrated in tree Italian fashion, but I’ll tell you a secret. Go to Il Pesce (means fish in Italian) where you will find amazing seafood that can easily be made complaint. The waiters are always asking about allergies and food preferences, and they are ready to accommodate your requests. I had the best broiled sardines ever, with fresh herbs and lemon and an amazing salad, called tricolore salad, with endives, radicchio and arugula – isn’t that the perfect Plant Paradox salad? I usually get red wine but this time, I really felt a prosecco will compliment this food better.
Kyma Flatiron – This Greek restaurant was recommended by an Instagram friend (who goes by the name @modernwinter) and oh my I’m so grateful. This place is awesome and has the best octopus appetizer. Originally made with bell peppers, just ask them to leave the peppers out, the rest is compliant. I also had a back sea bass with a side of broccoli rabe and it was one of the best dinner experiences we had in NYC. They also have a grilled cauliflower dish, oysters and grilled calamari that I’m sure are compliant or very easy to ask for modification.
The Little Beet Table – This is one of those new concepts I was talking about. A place that emphasizes on clean, thoughtful wholesome cooking, mainly vegetarian, but not exclusive, using seasonal, organic, local sources ingredients. Of course, there are many nightshades in their menu, but they have grass fed beef, and items that can be made compliant. I had an endives and arugula salad, with goat cheese, citrus (few slices of grapefruit) and walnut, to which I added half avocado. As a side dish I had charred sweet potatoes with smokes sea salt and olive oil. As you can imagine, everything was delicious. If you want a table, you will probably have to reserve one, but if you are ready to take a seat at the bar (which we did), no need for reservation. It’s a busy place.
Olio e Piu – another Italian restaurant in West Village, quite popular, where the chef cooks with olive oil (Sogno Toscano) most of the dishes (as mentioned previously stay away from deep fried items).
Great Northern Food Hall – Located in The Grand Central Terminal, this is a concept by famous Danish chef Claus Mayer, offering authentic Scandinavian food. The reason we went there is because my husband is Danish and wanted to check out this place. I had the salmon salad with was almost compliant, but took some lectin shield and tasted my husband’s and my sister’s open sandwiches on rye sourdough bread. This is probably not a place to specifically visit for lectin free food, but is the only place where you can eat clean if you go and visit The Grand Central Terminal in NYC, or if you want to experience Scandinavian food. Most of the bread they use (if not all) is sourdough and they even offer classes on how to make your own Scandinavian sourdough bread. The place also has one Michelin star.
Bonus. An escape to Martha’s Vineyard, where eating healthy is the norm, not the exception
While in New York City, we escaped for a couple of days to Martha’s Vineyard, a beautiful Island 3.5h drive away from NYC, plus a 1.45h fast ferry trip. The ocean salty breeze gave me life, even thought the weather was not ideal. But the food! This is a place where eating healthy is the norm, not the exception. Most of food is grown and sourced locally, and the seafood options are abundant. By far one of the best food experienced on this trip was a visit at Larsen’s Fish Market, right by the fishermen’s harbor, where we ate the freshest cherry stones, mussels and seaweed salad and lobster for just 36$.
Another amazing restaurant experience was Detente, my taste buds were having a party of joy. The appetizers were out of this world, the main was easy to make compliant. I had swordfish, the local staple, for the first time with a selection of compliant vegetables, they graciously made at my request. I have to tell you, this was one of those places where I feel a little shy to ask for modifications, because the chef is so good I don’t want him to not feel appreciated for what he is cooking. I would happily cheat in a place like this (with a couple of lectin shields). Must go in Maryha’s Vineyard is also Morning Glory Farm, where you can have your coffee and macron almonds made with olive oil in a garden abounding with fresh herbs, leave greens and flowers. Perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. There are many good restaurants in Martha’s Vineyard, but there is so much we can explore and eat in two days. Check The Covington too, I had the best kale salad there and a simple cooked fish.
Your turn: What’s your favorite place to eat the plant paradox way in New York City?
If you know of other places in New York City where we can eat the plant paradox way, please leave a comment below and I can add a later edit to this post with places recommended by you.
For more plant paradox tips and tricks for eating out and traveling, I also recommend my guide How to Stay Plant Paradox Compliant When Traveling.