HG Sply Co.
This is the epicenter for worshipers of the paleo diet, the foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived on during the Paleolithic era. They picked nuts, fruits, and vegetables, right before clubbing a woolly mammoth over the head. If they lived near water, they speared fish. Much like the cave people who didn’t have the pleasure of grains, dairy, and refined sugar, patrons here will not be offered any, either. Thankfully, cocktails flow like melting glacial ice.
Origin Kitchen + Bar
Origin ditched its original concept, which was essentially “We’ll cook tasty, high-quality food, then shove it into tinfoil packages and ask you to microwave it yourself.” Glad they rethought that. Sure, it’s a higher price point than most restaurants on this list—we think it’s a little nuts to charge $40 for a dish here, even if it’s Texas Akaushi beef—but the ingredients are impeccably sourced, and the menu reflects the seasons well.
True Food Kitchen
This Arizona-based chain was inspired by Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet and cookbook, True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure. If you are a follower, you’ll recognize others who dine here multiple times a week. Superfoods are prevalent; wines are sustainable, organic, and biodynamic; the pizza crust is gluten-free. Warning: too many glasses of organic wine can still lead to inflammation.
Owner Erin McKool decided it would be a good idea to open a restaurant that featured the healthy kind of food she prepared for her family. Then she added a drive-through window and turned the concept into a healthy fast-food success. Now you can text while waiting to pick up a Mediterranean quinoa salad; steel-cut oatmeal topped with chopped pecans, raisins, and dried cranberries; or a hormone-free, grass-fed, free-range beef burger.
Here it’s all about calories. Not one dish on the menu exceeds 475, and the food changes with the season, sometimes by the week. The setting is fancy, and they offer sommelier service for their global wine list. Vegan, vegetarian, and low-sodium requests are handled without a blink of an eye. And fancy desserts make you feel fulfilled. Just make sure you don’t eat three of them.
DINING LIFESTYLE CHEAT SHEET
Can’t tell a vegan from a freegan*? Here’s the skinny.
Vegan lifestyle: A vegetarian diet combined with a focus on eschewing animal products such as eggs, leather, fur, wool, and dairy.
Paleo diet: Often referred to as the hunter-gatherer diet, this program concentrates on preparing modern foods with the staples of wild animals and plants eaten by humans during the Paleolithic era. That is to say, lots of meat, not so much dairy, grains, legumes, and refined sugar.
Lacto-vegetarian diet: Excludes meat, fish, poultry, and eggs, and any foods that contain them. Milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter are consumed.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet: This plan excludes meat, fish, and poultry but allows dairy products and eggs.
Gluten-free: Once thought a problem only for patients diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, is now recognized as an irritant for people with wheat and gluten sensitivities and thyroid conditions. It’s not a lose-weight diet.
FODMAP: The new hot topic in digestive health and wellness. It cuts out Fermentable (food broken down easily) Oligosaccharides (sugars), Disaccharides (lactose and sucrose), Monosaccharides (fructose and glucose), and Polyols (sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol).
* Freeganism involves scavenging and eating food that has been thrown out. Dumpster diving is encouraged.
Call it easy organic. Sure, there’s plenty of stuff here if you’re trying to walk the down-the-middle healthy lifestyle, but you can also wash that down with a roast beef and pepperoni sandwich. The Dallas minichain also posts all the nutritional information for its meals, which makes it easier to pass on that roast beef and pepperoni behemoth. Pay attention to the fine print: “We are not 100-percent organic, though we make our food with 100-percent love.”
Green House Market
Now you can peruse the shops at NorthPark and still have time for a healthy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The menu—full of vegetarian and gluten-free options—is locally sourced and natural without sacrificing taste.
It’s casual, gluten-free, and BYOB. The menu rotates and includes Cajun, Creole, Italian, seafood, steak, and burgers. The migas are a divine mess of chicken, peppers, and onions with scrambled eggs and corn tortilla strips.
Look here for healthy, organic food and gluten-free options. The big dish is the delicious Deep Bowl: “ethical” eggs atop sweet potato hash and grass-fed beef. Breakfast includes gluten-free pancakes and wonderful coffee roasted locally by Full City Rooster.
The food is healthy and smart, and kids have a place to play while adults share a bottle of wine. Some of the best pancakes in Dallas are offered at breakfast and brunch, while the Global Dinner—brown rice and organic black beans, Jack cheese, guacamole, corn chips, and pico de gallo—is still a bargain at $7.50. And it is easily one of the friendliest restaurants in town.
LYFE Kitchen is a fast-growing national chain that promotes sustainability and supports local farms. Co-created by James Beard award-winning executive chef Art Smith, who happened to be Oprah’s personal chef for 10 years, LYFE has a seasonal menu featuring items that never exceed 600 calories. They cater to gluten-free diners, vegans, vegetarians, wine and beer lovers, and those who can and will eat anything, such as chicken and mushroom and spinach penne served with a warm cashew cream sauce.
Lanny P. Lancarte has been a fixture on the Fort Worth dining scene for 10 years. He first wooed palates with his vibrant cooking at Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana, which he opened in 2005. Somewhere along the way, Lancarte and his wife, both endurance athletes, changed their diet and boosted their energy with natural, whole foods instead of sugary performance enhancers.
“Our eating style just spilled over into my cooking style,” Lancarte says. “The last few years, my menu at Lanny’s leaned toward plant-based items at the center of the plate.”
He didn’t go out of his way to publicize the change, but last year he had a complete transformation. He closed Lanny’s and opened Righteous Foods, a casual breakfast, lunch, and dinner restaurant serving what Lancarte refers to as “a healthy dose of friggin’ awesome.”
That translates into organic, made-from-scratch items such as carrot and sweet potato ravioli with ginger soy broth, and spaghetti squash with pickled vegetables. The menu also has cold-pressed juices and drinking vinegars with seltzers, like coconut vinegar infused with fresh fruit juices.
He obviously filled a void in the market. “The first day we opened, we had a line outside the door,” Lancarte says. “To keep up with the demand, I have an overnight juicing staff. We are doing 700 to 800 covers a day.”
Lancarte cooks for vegans and vegetarians. But he hasn’t abandoned meat. He provides a wide variety of animal proteins that can be added to many of the preparations. “I still do some fine dining at night,” he says. “It’s just served in a more casual atmosphere, with better whole-food choices.”