Healthy food means different things to different people. In the Midwest, a salad can involve jello and cheese. Provided the jello is green, it’s healthy. Some people are juice cleanse people, some people are SkinnyPop acolytes. We are more on the “food that actually tastes good” train, and would like to invite you to join us.
Juice isn’t food. Sorry. And anything involving Special K is cardboard masquerading as food. So to help out on the eternal quest for something healthy, we compiled our favorite spots to grab good-for-you eats that don’t suck.
The newest establishment of the Healthy Food Takeover of San Francisco, Little Gem is elevating the movement with its nicely plated food in a beautiful corner sit-down space in Hayes Valley. The portions are small, and you need at least two things to fill up, but the crazy healthy food is mostly crazy delicious. We strongly endorse the steak wrap (actually just a big taco), yogurt and granola, and oatmeal.
Gluten-free, dairy-free, GMO-free, trans-fat free. What’s not free? The shockingly delicious food. It’s very not free. The almond butter/flour chocolate chip cookie is $5. It’s also really good. Besides that cookie, the powerhouse wrap and quinoa falafel (actual thing) wraps are great. Nice space, nice light, see you there.
There are a few Plants sprinkled around the city, and they do a strong breakfast, lunch, and dinner game across the board. Besides the fact that they serve wine and beer, The Plant is hands-down our favorite spot for bowls of all varieties in the city. The breakfast smoothie bowl, dino kale salad, miso quinoa, and tempeh bowls are all excellent. The organic-ness will seep into your skin and make you glow like Gwyneth Paltrow after a colonic.
Blue Barn makes awesome sandwiches, stellar salads, and is consistently wonderful. Yes, there’s usually a wait, if you add protein (or anything) to your salad it costs more than a Pop Physique class, and they insist on serving things in Chinese takeout containers. But a bite of the Rajun’ Cajun sandwich or a few mouthfuls of salad and you’re hooked, sold, a convert.
Souvla is so f*cking good. The Greek food, served up in sandwich or salad form, is fresh, healthy, and filling. We usually go with the chicken salad or lamb wrap, but there are no bad choices here. The best choice is getting some frozen yogurt for dessert. Greek yogurt = healthy yogurt.
Lots of bar seats and a few tiny tables await you at Darwin Cafe, along with a kale salad you’ll actually be thinking about after you leave. The secret might be in the prosciutto and cheese in it, but that’s neither here nor there. All the sandwiches and baguettes are fresh and bright, and the breakfast muesli with tons of fresh fruit is one of the better ways to start your day.
Jane on Fillmore is a straight-up stroller derby, and for good reason. There’s food for you, there’s food for kids, and it’s all healthy, highly-photogenic thanks to the black and white patterned tables and bright, fresh eats. We love the avocado toast, granola, and egg sandwich. The Larkin location is more chill thanks to the more “try not to stare at the man peeing on the curb” vibe, but the pastries, coffee, and food are all on par with the original location.
Teriyaki bowls, salads, and Japanese sides keep us coming back to Glaze. It’s cheap for the amount of food you get, the salmon is excellent, and the teriyaki sauce never lets you down. Do some things need thirty dashes of sriracha to make them next-level? 1000 times yes, but no one has ever complained about sriracha (except the people next to the factory).
Despite its somewhat terrible name, Basik serves some serious acai bowls (or really acai plastic cups/tubs). A few bar seats that look out on Polk Street are all they have inside, so this is more of a grab-and-go situation.
The most high-tech of all the healthy options, Eatsa is either the future of food or the destruction of the entire service economy and start of our enslavement to artificial intelligence. Take your pick. They’ve managed to make some very good, filling, and healthy quinoa bowls that are extremely cheap, and we say the Bento Bowl is the only way to go. Take note: only open for lunch.
The $11 lunch combo at Heyday is healthy, quick, and the best deal around if you work around Market (provided that interacting with humans is something you prefer over robot quinoa). The raw kale salad has a great avocado-y dressing, and the turkey sandwich is never a bad move.
Raw AND vegan food is the name of the game at Judahlicious. Hello, fountain of youth. The Sunset spot has very, very good acai bowls, hearty salads and wraps, and a general vibe of “I am healthy just for walking in the door.” The cashew cream sauce is better than it sounds.
On the occasion that you’re looking for healthy food after spending time in Dolores Park, trot yourself over to Cha-Ya for excellent vegan and vegetarian Japanese small plates. You will be able to consume your annual tofu and mushroom quota, and actually enjoy it. We’re into it.
Mission breakfast or lunch that isn’t in the form of a burrito? Can it be? Yes, it can, and it can be great. Green Heart Foods is turning out seriously healthy and seriously good eats. Breakfast bowls, quinoa bowls, and rotating salads are all great. The frittata is excellent, and whatever daily specials they have will be full of vegetables and health and glory.
Greens has ideal waterfront real estate, and the vegetarian brunch here (get the potato griddle cakes) will save your life and the life of the most hungover (but still healthy) friend you can find. The dinner scene is a little more upscale, but it’s the best option around for fancy food that’s good for you.
This place is nothing like a picnic, but nonetheless a very good place to get coffee and fantastic granola. For all the paleos out there, they also have surprisingly good cave-baked paleo muffins. Kidding. They’re sun-baked. Cavemen didn’t have ovens. At night, Picnic gets a little more upscale (also no picnic vibes) and the food is still fresh, healthy, and not doused in creamy sauces. Worth a visit.
Burgers can be healthy too, right? When they’re from Roam (organic, grass-fed, free-range), you can feel good about eating a burger. Options include whole wheat, gluten-free, or lettuce wrap buns, and if you’re feeling extra virtuous the salad with little mini burgers on top is entertaining and very good. Also, get some of the awesome sweet potato fries. Sweet potatoes are healthy.