Sometimes it feels like every new restaurant focuses on burgers, pizza, or some kind of noodle. We aren't saying we don't like those foods, but too much grease slows us down. And we're like gazelles or unsponsored triathletes - we run free. So it’s nice when a relatively healthy place opens up, the sort of place where you can bring a picky friend and also find something for yourself. We call these places healthy-ish.
If you want to check out a new restaurant but also keep your bod's status quo, try one of these spots. You probably won’t lose any weight, but you won’t gain much either. Essentially, you can be as healthy as you want. Check them out, because there’s a world of new restaurants beyond burgers and pizza - and if you feel the need to go there, these are the spots.
New to the Healthy-ish Hit List as of 2/27: Maui Onion, Pretty Southern, Sugarfish, Loring Place
Check out the rest of our Guide To Being A Little Healthier.
Poké is everywhere now. And unless you’re a fish, you probably don’t mind. Maui Onion is one of the latest poké places open, and it has a few things going for it. Portions are decent, prices are reasonable, the staff is nice, and they also have juices. Order at the counter then grab a seat at the bar, the communal table, the bleachers in back, or by the windows up front. There are a lot of seats here.
This is a little place in Greenpoint, and, for a spot that specializes in fried chicken, you can eat surprisingly healthy here. If that’s what you’re trying to do, skip the fried stuff and go for the rotisserie chicken. Maybe add a veggie side or one of their salads. Alternately, get the gluten-free fried chicken and pretend it’s healthy. (It could work.) Stop by on a weeknight for something quick and affordable.
Loring Place is a little healthier than your average kind-of-fancy dinner spot. Which makes sense, since the chef used to make the food at ABC Kitchen. There are a lot of vegetables on the menu, they have whole wheat spaghetti, and their “fries” are made from butternut squash. But they also do some pizzas and a burger. So come here and be as healthy as you want to be. It’s a little expensive, but the space is really nice, and the vegetables actually taste good.
We're going to go ahead and say sushi is healthy-ish. (There are worse things you could eat.) Sugarfish is a chain from LA known for its quality, affordable sushi, and this is the first location in New York. Most people get one of the three set menus (with sushi, sashimi, and handrolls) ranging from $27-$51. The sushi rice is warm and soft, the fish is fresh, and gratuity is included. Sounds great, right? Well, they also don’t take reservations, and you might wait five hours for a table. That is not an exaggeration.
Picture a room that feels like a cross between a glass tank for lizards and a nightclub from the 90s. That’s Miss Paradis. There are also bottles of rose everywhere, a lot of glassware that might just be decor, and a subtle R&B soundtrack that makes you think a server might come up and start giving you a back rub. Thing is, the food is actually good, affordable, and pretty healthy. You won’t crave anything from their pescatarian menu at 2 am, but you will leave feeling like a really expensive show dog with owners who obsess over the sheen of your coat. And sometimes that’s a good thing.
We’re honestly curious how many Australians are still in Australia. At this point, there are probably more in New York, and a bunch of them work at places like Citizens of Chelsea. This is yet another Australian-style coffee shop that serves breakfast all day, and it really wants to be Instagrammed. The space is clean and bright with a good number of seats, and there’s some super-casual table service. The food is also mostly healthy (avocado toast, quinoa salad, etc.), but they kindly give you the option of adding bacon to anything.
Somewhere along the line, “vegan” became synonymous with “healthy." We aren’t nutritionists, so we really aren’t going to weigh in on this, but if you’re a vegan or if you feel like eating a lot of vegetables, Modern Love is a solid choice. This place is just a little bit fancy, but the food is fun and satisfying. They do vegan versions of comfort food - stuff like seitan chops and applesauce and samosa-spiced latkes. For your next healthy date night, go here.
These days, we’re finding more and more coffee shops that serve good food. And that’s great because these tend to be laid-back, affordable places where you don’t feel bad about taking out your laptop. The food also tends to be healthier. At the Williamsburg Gotan (there are two others in Manhattan), you can sit down and have some better-than-average toast or a salad while you map out the rest of your day. If you live or work in the area, it’s the sort of place you can eat at several times a week.
The space is a little cafeteria-like, but the UES needed something like this. This isn’t a place you’re going to travel to, but if you live in the area (or if you’re doing the uptown tourist thing), here’s somewhere you can get a casual, healthy-ish meal. The food here is “California-style,” which means lots of vegetables and an obligatory tuna tartare. In this case, the tartare is on toast, and it’s a pretty good piece of toast. A little oily, but good. The setup here doesn’t quite feel like a dinner place, but stop by for lunch when you and a friend just need to eat a bunch of vegetables out of a bowl.
The original Lighthouse is in Williamsburg, and we’d like to point out that it’s one of the best casual dining options we’ve recently encountered. Lighthouse Outpost opened quietly on Mulberry Street, and if you work in the area, it’s where you should be getting your lunch. They do a burger that’ll make you want to send your parents hate mail for allowing you to eat McDonald's, and there are lighter options like ceviche and shakshuka. The storefront is small, and it’s mostly a takeout place, but there are a few seats inside if you need a few minutes away from your desk.
Now the Meatpacking District has drug dealers and a cauliflower steak sandwich. The Wild Son (from the team that brought you The Wayland) also has some meat options, but the menu is full of salads, grain bowls, and the like. Go for breakfast or lunch, have a yogurt bowl or some gluten-free pancakes. At dinner, there are some larger plates (roasted chicken, whole trout etc.), and the vibe is more laid-back than your average Meatpacking restaurant.
Chikarashi is a counter-service poke spot in a clean little storefront on Canal. Choose a signature bowl with high-quality fish, and get a meal for around fifteen bucks. Bowls come with rice and usually a few Japanese ingredients you’re probably half-familiar with like ponzu, furikake, wakame, and shichimi. Of all the new places selling poke bowls, we've found Chikarashi's to be of the highest quality.
Baby Brasa was opened by a Peruvian male model who seems to be permanently parked outside the restaurant. They serve Peruvian food, primarily rotisserie chicken (which you can get in quarter, half, or gluten-free sandwich form). For something lighter, get a quinoa and kale salad that actually doesn’t suck. It’s a good spot to get a quick lunch and people watch on the LES.
Have we told you about Australian cafes? Good, so that’s covered. The original Two Hands is on Mott Street, but the new one in Tribeca has a bar and a much bigger menu. Swing by in the morning for some granola or beet-cured salmon, or stop by at night for a laid-back, well-rounded healthy-ish dinner. Get a few small plates and order their cocktail with rye and apple juice called The Drunk Granny (because there are worse things to be).