Okay, you’ve made your resolution to start eating healthy in 2016, but you’re worried that it will mean bland entrees that taste like cardboard served in stark minimalist surroundings. Have no fear for you are living in Austin — one of the best foodie destinations — and there are literally dozens of restaurants where you can eat healthy and have a memorable dining experience to boot.
We’ve chosen our top five spots to enjoy a healthy, unforgettable meal, so whatever your price point, location, or choice of atmosphere we’ve got you covered. Here’s to your well-being and bon appetit.
Casa de Luz
Going to Casa de Luz is an experience — you never know who might be sitting next to you at one of the communal tables. Enter through a palm-lined courtyard to find a magical spot that is not only a restaurant but also a community center. The macrobiotic menu focuses on dark leafy greens and beans and is all organic, vegan, and gluten-free. Delicious and reasonably priced, Casa de Luz is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the menu changes daily.
Housed in a charming Craftsman-style bungalow located close to the University of Texas campus, this restaurant stands out as one of the first that utilized fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Eastside Cafe also has its own vegetable garden, so you can’t get a fresher salad anywhere in town. In business for 27 years, the cafe serves a seasonal menu with vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options. Don’t miss the jalapeño cornbread and signature soups. Brunch, lunch, and dinner feature daily chef’s specials.
Elaine’s, located next door and named for Chef Elaine Martin, is a more casual dining spot where you can indulge in some of the best homemade pies in Austin — and not feel too guilty about it after your healthy meal from Eastside Cafe. Elaine’s also has a carry-out option.
The minute you walk into this small Korean restaurant you feel right at home and know you are in for a treat. With no MSG, the Asian-inspired menu features local offerings made from scratch and there are plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options to choose from. Healthy, fast, friendly, and affordable Asian comfort food served in a cozy setting downtown — what more could you ask for?
Bouldin Creek Cafe
With too many accolades and best of lists to mention, Bouldin Creek was one of the first restaurants to truly embrace the vegetarian and vegan movement. The food impresses and satisfies even the most die-hard meat lovers in any group. It’s also known for its coffee selection and knowledgeable baristas, as well as its creative cocktails for happy hour.
On January 24, the restaurant will hold its monthly Bazaar Brunch from 10 am to 3 pm which features local artists and craftsmen showing their wares on the lawn while you get to sip mimosas and mingle. It is also a dog-friendly event.
For a more upscale experience check out qui, the restaurant named for one of Austin’s rock-star chefs. You may know him as the winner of Top Chef and the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Southwest award, but the real achievement of Paul Qui’s storied career is his creative tasting menu, which features as many as 20 offerings daily. You can customize your experience by making reservations for a group, and each tasting can include select beverage pairings. A complete vegetarian menu is offered featuring creative and offbeat selections such as parsnip panna cotta. While it may be pricey, it is an experience guaranteed to be memorable.
If your budget is not unlimited, you can scope out the cuisine by visiting Pulutan, the intimate bar at qui, and feast on small bar bites and signature cocktails.