healthy, Paleo

The Paleo/Whole30 Restaurant Guide

The Paleo diet involves a lot of cooking, which translates to a lot of dishes. Sometimes it’s nice going out to eat and having someone else do all of the work for you. Eating Paleo doesn’t mean the end of eating out at restaurants. These days, so many restaurants have gluten-free menus and are happy to make substitutions. It’s becoming easier than ever to stay on track while eating out Paleo.

Here is my quick guide on where to eat and what to eat:

Barrel & Bushel (local restaurant in Northern VA)

I had the most amazing salad at this restaurant. I ordered the Grilled Romaine salad (no farmers cheese) and added grilled marinated chicken. The salad comes tossed in lime and extra virgin olive oil, which is a really tasty dressing.

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Blue Ridge Grill (local restaurant in Northern VA)

I order the grilled chicken salad over mixed greens without candied pecans or mango (I’m allergic). I add cucumber and red onion and ask for olive oil and vinegar instead of the classic vinaigrette.


Burger Joints

I usually order a bunless burger with lettuce (or wrapped in a lettuce “bun”), tomato, onions, and yellow mustard.



CAVA reminds me of a Mediterranean Chipotle. I like that you can build your own meal and customize it to fit your tastes. I usually order a salad with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, tomato + onion salad, diced cucumber, and a fresh lemon wedge as my dressing.


Chinese Takeout

I order the steamed shrimp with mixed vegetables without any sauce. I use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce.



Chipotle is my go-to restaurant. I always order a salad with carnitas, fresh tomato salsa, a little bit of tomatillo-green chili salsa, lettuce, and guacamole.


The carnitas and chorizo are the only meats that are not cooked in rice bran oil. Sadly, the fajitas vegetables are also cooked in rice bran oil 😦

First Watch

This is one of my favorite restaurants! First Watch juices daily using fresh, all-natural ingredients. I always start with the Kale Tonic.

For breakfast, I order the Tri-Athlete without the English muffin.


For lunch, I order the Baja Turkey Burger without the mayo, cheese, or bun and seasonal fruit.



Glory Days Grill

I order the shrimp platter with grilled shrimp (no butter) and fresh seasonal vegetables instead of fries.

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You can also order a steak with veggies, a bunless burger, or a salad (no cheese or croutons) and just bring your own dressing.

Longhorn Steakhouse

Steakhouses have some really great, healthy options! You can order grilled protein with veggies, a baked potato (no cheese or butter), or a side salad (ask for olive oil and vinegar or bring your own). I’m not a huge red meat eater, so I order the Red Rock grilled shrimp (no tomato butter) with steamed broccoli and no rice.


Mexican Restaurants

I either order fajitas (without the tortillas, sour cream, or cheese) or a salad. I use the fresh salsa as my salad dressing. You can even bring plantain chips to dip in the guacamole 🙂



Pizza Delivery

Most pizza places have salads. Just make sure you use your own dressing (I make my own or use Tessemae’s).


Thai Restaurants

I always start with Tom Kha or Thai coconut soup.


For my entree, I order shrimp stir-fried with asparagus in a light, garlic sauce or shrimp, chicken and cashews tossed with a mild chili sauce. Curries are also a good choice.


More Tips for Eating Out

  • Accept the fact that you’re going to be “that person” asking a million questions and making substitutions. It’s important to know what your food is being cooked in, if any sugar was added, etc.
  • Look up the menu before you go so you have a game plan. I always know exactly what I’m going to order before I even step into the restaurant.
  • Focus on what you can have, not what you can’t have. No need to feel sorry for yourself that you can’t dive into the bread basket. Remember why you’re eating this way! Think how much better you’ll feel after NOT indulging in the bread, pizza, pasta, etc.
  • Specify no butter and always ask about the type of cooking oil use (a lot of restaurants use soybean or canola oil because they are cheaper). Make sure you ask that they use OLIVE oil.
  • Don’t be afraid to bring things from home. I’ve been known to pack homemade salad dressing in my purse 🙂
  •  I usually ask a ton of questions and make substitutions. I always make sure to show my appreciation by thanking the chef and/or leaving your waiter a good tip for taking care of me.

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