Maybe someone ordered pizza for the office all-hands meeting this afternoon, and before that, you raided the supply closet's stock of mini Twix bars. Maybe your friend has just Gchatted you declaring he or she "just feels a little gross right now and would like to eat something light."
Either way, when discussing plans for that casual dinner you have on the docket 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 or a big salad and maybe a nice piece of fish.
For those nights, here are some suggestions.
The house specialty at Soba-ya is, unsurprisingly, soba. They make the buckwheat soba noodles in-house, and there are a bunch of hot and cold varieties to choose from. But we tend to go for their rice bowls. Get one with tuna or salmon sashimi, and it'll be like that bowl of poke you just had for lunch but without the unnecessary fried onions and spicy mayo all over the top. Even if you get the largest of the three sizes, you'll still respect yourself when you leave. Soba-ya is in the East Village, it’s casual and reasonably priced, and waits usually aren't too long on weeknights.
Aliens dine free at Siggy's. We know that doesn't make any sense, but that's house policy, and it gives you a general sense of the vibe here. They serve the kind of food you'd expect a friendly conspiracy theorist to eat: a live earth salad, a quinoa spinach burger wrap, and some “juices for your health." They also do a regular burger (as well as a steak sandwich), but even those won't make you feel like garbage. Siggy's is very casual, and it doesn't qualify as a date spot unless your date either A) believes in aliens or B) just climbed down from a tree they were saving. Or, actually, C) is an alien. Otherwise, come here for a laid-back meal that'll make you feel good.
Seafood is generally a healthier option, and Navy has a lot of it. Most of the dinner menu is seafood, actually, so don't go with someone who doesn't like fish. If you do like fish (and oysters and octopus), however, stop by Navy for a casual dinner in a nautical-themed room you'll want to live inside. Navy is Soho, but it’s in the western part that's a little quieter and feels more like a neighborhood. Come here with a date or with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile. They don’t have full liquor license, but this is more of a place to share a bottle of wine anyways. Stop by when you need a laid-back (although not exactly cheap) place where you’ll want to hang out for hours.
Meme has two locations, and we especially like the one in the West Village. The dining room is a little small, but there’s a good amount of outdoor seating where you can hang out and watch West-Village-residing celebrities walk their dogs. The food here is an affordable mix of the Mediterranean greatest hits and crowd-pleasing dishes like brussels sprouts and mac & cheese. It isn't going to blow your mind, but the servers are nice, and if you’re looking for a nice little place with some healthy-ish stuff like salad or lemon chicken with vegetables, Meme will do just fine.
Lovely Day has 1950’s diner vibes, and the menu leans toward Thai. The weird thing is, they also do stuff like a burger and fries. So don't expect the best food you've ever had, just know that this place is fun, casual, inexpensive, and perfect for an easy night out with friends. Come here and have salmon with brown rice, steak with mashed potatoes or something Thai (like spicy green curry). The menu’s pretty big, and you can pick how healthy you want to be.
If you want to eat healthy at 12 Chairs, the go-to move is a salad. They do a bunch of them, including one with chicken schnitzel. And while that might not be the healthiest choice you could make, you’ll feel better about eating schnitzel when it’s on a bed of chopped salad. Other healthy options include couscous, fish, or shakshouka. There are two 12 Chairs locations and they serve the same affordable Mediterranean menu, but the Williamsburg one is brighter, more spacious, and better for an extended hang with friends.
If all you want is a nice piece of fish, you’ll have some options at Crave. Swordfish, salmon, yellowfin tuna - whatever you choose will be somewhat healthy. You can also get a salad or some ceviche. Crave is good for pretty much any scenario (date night, business lunch, etc.), and those who aren’t interested in being healthy can eat fried chicken. The warm chocolate chip cookie should be enjoyed by all, however.
At Lighthouse, you can very easily eat something healthy without trying to eat something healthy. The menu is made up of filling, interesting vegetable dishes and simple proteins (the roast chicken is phenomenal), all done really well and at reasonable prices. Add in the indoor/outdoor space, the daily oyster happy hour, and the ridiculously good burger on hand in case you decide you can be a little less healthy, and this place is officially our favorite weeknight spot in Williamsburg.
Dudley's is a Lower East Side restaurant that's usually filled with very trendy, attractive people, and which also happens to serve several tasty salads and a great roasted chicken. Maybe skip the fries that come with the chicken, or maybe don't.
Greeks figured out the enjoyable, healthy food thing a long time back. How? They invented the perfect salad that doesn’t even involve lettuce. Kiki’s serves Greek food in Chinatown, and while you can get your food covered in French fries here, there are a lot of ways to eat pretty healthy at Kiki’s - make sure the Horiatiki salad is in your order.
Another downtown Greek standby, Village Taverna is an ideal low-commitment spot for when you want an easy dinner. It's a sit-down restaurant, but one where you're totally fine wearing gym clothes. For a healthy and relatively inexpensive dinner, the move here is to get a salad and top it with perfectly cooked salmon or chicken. The grilled octopus is excellent, too.
Cafe Gitane is probably best known for its avocado toast - they were early to the game, and it's a really good one - but that means you might primarily think of Gitane as a daytime operation. We're here to endorse Gitane for dinner, when it's not too crowded. Go for any of the salads, the chicken satay, or the tuna ceviche.
Rider’s menu is split up into four sections, starting with vegan dishes and ending with a burger and a ribeye. And while this big range of options has the potential to feel all over the place, it ends up making for a pretty simple I’m-trying-to-eat-kinda-healthy situation. Stick with the top two sections for most of your meal, maybe pepper in a wildcard option from the bottom two sections, and you have a highly satisfying, mostly good for you dinner.
A place where you can feel kind of cool as you eat kind of healthy. The cozy, below-ground space is a nice place to hide out after a rough Monday, and the menu is made up of satisfying food - salads, proteins, and grains all done nicely.
A brand new, still under the radar Japanese spot, Ise serves some awesome soba, and the soba salad here is about as healthy as you're going to get while still eating a plate of noodles. There's also an excellent selection of sashimi and other light appetizers. Bonus points for extremely zen vibes.
Been trying to eat healthy-ish lately? Then your restaurant orders have probably involved some combination of roasted chicken, roasted vegetables - maybe even getting wild with a pan-seared fish once and a while. If you're tired of that routine, mix it up at Timna, a modern Mediterranean spot in the East Village where you can eat things like raw fish on quinoa and octopus with eggplant puree.
Seamore's is entirely built around the idea of a kind of healthy dinner. The starring item here is the Reel Deal, which gets you a piece of fish (sustainably caught!), plus three daily market sides (which are usually sort of healthy). The salads are great too, and we might roll our eyes at the fact that they serve vegan frozen yogurt for dessert, if it weren't so good.
If you find yourself in Soho often, you’ve probably eaten at Spring Street Natural at some point over the years. But if you haven’t found yourself in Soho recently, you might be surprised to discover that the Spring Street Natural space is now a Ricky’s beauty store. The restaurant moved to a big new space on Kenmare, and we were surprised to find that the food was significantly better than it was at the original.
A proper restaurant in Tribeca from the people who brought you the acai bowl extravaganza that is Two Hands Cafe in Nolita, brunch here is typically a highly crowded scene, but dinner is significantly calmer. There's grilled salmon and braised chicken, plus some more fun appetizers like little shrimp sliders.