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15 Great Chicago Places To Eat Something Kind Of Healthy

PHOTO: Christina Slaton

Maybe you're coming off an aggressive weekend filled with too much food and booze. Maybe Gene from accounting brought in donuts for the office and you had one too many. Or maybe you're trying to fit into that pair of pants you intentionally bought one size too small.

Either way, when discussing plans for that casual lunch or dinner you planned for later, you've decided you would like to eat something "kind of healthy." We're not talking going full vegan or signing up for a 10-day juice cleanse. What we are talking about is potentially eating some greens and maybe a nice piece of fish.

Here are 15 suggestions for those situations.

the spots



River North
74 W. Illinois St.

Ema is a self-described California take on Mediterranean small plates. And we’re pretty sure there’s a California state law that says you have to eat kind of healthy. Ema won’t make you go full kale detox, but most things on the menu like a feta and olives appetizer, hummus and pita, or grilled octopus are on the lighter side. Even the protein options like kebabs are reasonably portioned without too much meat. Ease into being a slightly healthier you at Ema. And if you're looking for similar kind of food specifically for an on-the-go lunch, hit the attached counter, Rotisserie Ema.


Blue Door Kitchen used to be Table 52, a Southern restaurant that focused on things like fried chicken, mac & cheese, and collard greens. And we have a little good news, bad news for you. The newer Blue Door pushes to serve lighter, healthier, and more seasonal dishes like spaghetti squash and hazelnuts or celery root and apple stew. But they still serve a couple Southern favorites like fried chicken and mac & cheese. We’ll let you decide which part of that is the good news and the bad news.



623 N State St

Full disclosure: the salads and bowls at Sweetgreen are totally healthy, not just kind of healthy. But they’re so good and affordable that it makes being healthy enjoyable. We hate that Sweetgreen made us actually like salads but it’s probably for the best long-term.


If you’re looking for a quick and casual Korean-inspired meal, En Hakkore is the spot. The menu is small, but two options in particular have everything you need. Get either their take on bibimbap that’s lighter than usual with 16 different veggies, rice, and your choice of protein, or the sashimi-bap, which is five different kinds of sashimi over a veggie-filled salad. It tastes great, and you’ll feel good about yourself.


3 Greens Market is part buffet, part hamburger diner, part coffee shop, and part bar. There are a lot of parts, but 3 Greens excels at being each and every one of these things. But you’re trying to be healthy, so steer clear of the burger and doughnut vault donuts (good luck) and opt for the hot and cold salad bar instead, which is everything you want in a salad bar. They have the system down to a science here and nothing ever feels stale or old. The create-your-own-salads are always great unless you happen to mess it up, and if that happens there’s nobody to blame but yourself.


The Allis

West Loop
113-125 N Green St

The ground floor of Soho House, which is open to the public, is not only a great place to grab a sensible meal, but it’s also one of the best places to hang out for a coffee or to get work done. And that’s especially true after a recent expansion that now includes a lot more tables and comfy couches. Grab some avocado toast or a salad and settle in for a while.



River North
519 N Clark St

Beatrix is a staple for let's go out to dinner tonight without being gross. We really like their salads, but they have a number of sensible dinner entrees that will also make you feel good about yourself. Try the chicken bebe or the chili and chocolate glazed salmon, and before you know it you'll have your own fitness Instagram documenting your no days off at the gym.


Doc B's Fresh Kitchen

Magnificent Mile / River North
The Shops at North Bridge, 55 E Grand Ave

The other staple in the let's go out to dinner but not be totally gross department. Just like Beatrix, Doc B's has a lot of good healthy options. The salads are great, our favorite being the #1 tuna salad, or get a wok bowl full of veggies and quinoa for something more substantive. Consider starting with the baked polenta fries which aren't that healthy but definitely taste great.


Lula Cafe

Logan Square
2537 N Kedzie Ave

Lula might not immediately strike you as being a place to go for a semi-healthy dinner, but we'll tell you why it is. The ever-changing menu always has a strong selection of new and different veggie options, like spring onions and plums with buttermilk, rye panade, and green caraway seed. Go heavy on the veggies, mix in a salad and light protein, and you'll be on your way to those abs you've always wanted in no time.


Left Coast Food & Juice

2878 N Lincoln Ave

Left Coast is trying to make healthy food a little less boring, and overall they do a solid job. The vibes here scream Katy Perry "California Gurls," and the avocado toasts, salads, wraps, and smoothies on the menu go along with it. Feel free to go full-healthy with a salad and smoothie, or only kind of healthy with a turkey meatball and spicy hummus wrap.



Lincoln Park
432 W Diversey Pkwy

MFK is a tiny seafood centric restaurant that pays tribute to the food in Spain. And since people in Spain are in way better shape than Americans as a whole, eating here will make you healthier. Have some light seafood and "from the soil" veggies and you're in for a quality, delicious, and relatively healthy meal.


California may have fooled the rest of the country into thinking kale tastes good, and that's exactly why Summer House Santa Monica can exist. The (kale) salads here are certainly enjoyable, but so are the seafood dishes and food from the "Things We Love" section of the menu, like the quinoa and forbidden black rice bowl with green curry and veggies.


Uncommon Ground

3800 N Clark St

Uncommon Ground has been a leader in the sustainable, farm-to-table, grow your own stuff on your rooftop movement since 1991. They even have solar panels on their rooftop for energy use, so that has to mean healthy-ish things are going on inside.

Photo: Facebook/Uncommon Ground


2311 W. North Ave.

Handlebar is a great, mostly vegetarian restaurant, so you are automatically kept in check from being too unhealthy. They also serve great fish entrees, including some excellent grilled fish tacos, and nothing says "kind of healthy" like a fish taco. Eat them on Handlebar's excellent patio and enjoy success.


Brown Bag Seafood Co.

340 E Randolph St

Brown Bag offers fresh fish in a fast casual setting. The best part about it is you can tailor exactly what you want, mainly because Brown Bag's menu is a "Choose Your Own Adventure" situation. Start with a type of fish like whitefish or blackened shrimp, and then pick how you want to consume it: in a sandwich, on a salad, wrapped up in tacos, straight, or in something called a "power box" with quinoa and spinach.

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