5 Healthy Places to Eat Out at and Still Have Fun in South Central Austin

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For the majority of my life, my diet consisted of "I can eat whatever I like because I work out!" Then, when I turned 27, my body was like, "lol jk nvm" and I had to start being conscious of what I was ordering at restaurants. A year later, I can now order like a MVP and still eat delicious food. Here are 5 places you can eat healthy at (and a few suggestions on how to modify what you order) while reaching your fitness goals:

1. Fresa's Chicken al Carbon 

photo by sarah_thebella

Fresa's is my MF jam! They have a drive through on 9th & Lamar if you're looking to grab something on the go, BUT they also have THE CUTEST restaurant on South First with a big, beautiful patio. I love Fresa's because there are tons of healthy options to choose from and they all taste so.damn.good!

If you're going for brunch, I order the "Breakfast Bol" that has scrambled eggs, bacon, salsa, queso Monterrey, cilantro, and flour tortillas. To make it lower in fat, order it without the bacon and cheese. You can also sub the flour tortillas for corn.

For dinner, you can get any of the bowls, but my favorite is the "Power Bol." That comes with agave-lime chicken, power greens, avocado, adobo chickpeas, roasted cauliflower, sweet potato, and queso fresco. Pro tip: you can order extra chickpeas (they're so good you'll want to bathe in them). To make it healthier, order it without cheese. Fresa's also serves wood fired chicken, which is similar to a rotisserie chicken but with a smokey taste. This is another one of their healthier but filling options. 

In terms of draaanks, if you're treating yourself to a margarita, order it on the rocks and ask for it without agave nectar. This cuts down on the sugar and makes you feel the same way as if you were drinking the real deal. 

2. Hopdoddy Burger Bar

photo by imhungry

Yes, you read that correctly, HOPDODDY! Hopdoddy can be made healthier if you hit up those modifications! Here's a few simple steps for ordering a nom meal without the guilt:

1. Order it without the bun

2. Get it wrapped in lettuce

3. Skip the cheese

4. Add avocado or a fried egg if you want to add texture/moisture with healthy fats

Hopdoddy also serves the "Impossible Burger" which is 100% vegetarian and I think tastes better than the meat patties. They also have veggie, tuna, chicken, and turkey burgers if you want something leaner than beef. If you need carbs, try the gluten-free buns! They are sweet are delicious (I actually prefer them over their regular buns). 

Hopdoddy also has a ton of signature cocktails and beers. When ordering a cocktail, ask what's in it. If it contains simple syrup, sugar, agave, or honey, order it without.

3. Lucky Robot Japanese Kitchen

 

photo by kitchen_plantastic

If you're looking to go out to a cute ass place with your boo, look no further. Lucky Robot is adorbs af and delicious. Full disclosure, I am not a sushi person. I try it every time it's in front of me and I just can't get into it. My bae loves sushi so Lucky Robot is a good compromise; they have sushi but also a ton of non-sushi options. 

Nearly all of their sushi options are pretty healthy (go figure) as long as you're sticking to the ones that aren't deep fried or tempura-ed. For appetizers, I love their miso soup and edamame (your 5 year old nephew probably does too). For the main dish, I order "The Schoolgirl Bowl" which is chicken breast, mushroom, broccoli, red bell pepper, yellow onion, chili garlic, serrano aioli & ginger scallion served over rice. To make it healthier, I sub the white rice for brown, OR you can get it served over greens. 

They also have BYOB (build your own bowl, lol tricked ya!) where you can choose your own protein, veggies, and sauce. This is a good option if you're really dialing in to your macros and need to hit a certain amount each day, because they have several different options. 

4. Matt's El Rancho

Ahh yes, Matt's El Rancho. The place you went after college graduation with all of your aunts and uncles. I've recently gained a new appreciation for Matt's since A) it's close to where I live B) has a giant, beautiful patio C) serves skinny frozen margaritas. Now it is very, very, easy to indulge at Matt's (I'm looking at you, Bob Armstrong Dip) but if you've got your eye on the prize, this can be a great, fun place to hit your hashtag fitness goals.

I consider myself *somewhat* of a fajitas connoisseur. I always order it, no matter where I go, if it's on the menu. AND LET ME TELL YOU: Matt's has some kick ass fajitas! You can order beef, chicken, combo, veggies, or shrimp. BUT here's the real kicker, they also have an "Ultra Lite" option that is served over veggie rice and comes without all the extra beans, cheese, and sour cream. The silent diet sabotage-ers are all those extras that you casually wrap in a tortilla--ya have to do it mindfully or it'll come back and reappear on your booty.

I get their beef fajitas (nom) and eat it without tortillas, but with peppers, greens, and onions instead. If I get the sides, I ask for no sour cream or cheese and sub it for extra guacamole instead. **Matt's also gets extra points because it's owned by women!**

5. Picnik

I love Picnik. Initially, I was skeptical because their prices are a lot higher than what I'd usually pay for a quick meal, but it is worth it because of the quality of their ingredients AND THE TASTE. Picnik does have an actual brick and mortar in North Austin, but I'm going to focus on their trailers (located on S Lamar and St. Elmo). Pro tip: Picnik trailers are dog friendly and if you bring your pupper, they'll give them a blueberry muffin treat! 

Picnik is completely gluten, soy, corn, and peanut free. They are paleo-friendly and are known for their butter coffee. I tend to stray away from butter coffee because I'm watching my fat intake, but if you have room for it in your diet, this is the place to go. To keep it healthier, order the cappuccino because it's served without sugar, yaaaas!

One of my favorite items is their chorizo frittata which is made with pasteurized eggs, avocado oil mayo, collard greens, onions, and chorizo. It is especially good with the green salsa and is the perfect portion size for when you're hungry but not starving. My go to at Picnik though is their MF bone broth. It is SO GOOD and not just something to have when you're sick. I add black pepper and sip it like a queen. Bone broth is nutrient dense, good for gut health and joint pain, and tastes like a hug in a mug. **MORE BONUS POINTS FOR PICNIK because it is woman-owned!**

Since modifying my "going out meals," I no longer wake up regretting what I ate the night before. Eating out can be fun, healthy, and just as satisfying once you know what your body needs. Drop a comment below and let me know where and how you eat when dining out healthy! 

dining out while eating healthy eating healthy in Austin Fresa's Chicken al Carbon gluten-free healthy restaurants in Austin Hopdoddy Burger Bar Lucky Robot Japanese Kitchen Matt's El Rancho Paleo Picnik

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