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Healthy eats in Boston

I'm going to be in Boston in a couple of weeks, and I'm putting together my culinary agenda. I travel a lot on business (which obviously entails a lot of eating out), so eating healthy is a top priority. I really despise greasy, oily foods and tend to go for places that serve light fresh cuisines...maybe homemade oatmeal or granola with fresh fruit for breakfast, light sandwich / salads for lunch, and I'm pretty much open to anything when it comes to dinner (although I do like a lot of SE Asian and Mediterranean foods). Anyway, I'll be staying in the financial district, but suggestions for any T-accessible places to eat healthy would be awesome. I went to graduate school in Boston, but unfortunately most of my favorite places to chow (ah, Pizzeria Regina) don't exactly fall into the healthy category ;)

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  1. As someone who leads a secret double life of health nut by day, chowhound by night, I asked a similar question a few months ago:


    Favorite new discovery had to be Xinh Xinh (thanks MC Slim JB!), but the thread has a number of great ideas. I'll reiterate Sultan's Kitchen and Boston Kebab House as lunchtime favorites in the area.

    1. Hi,

      A good option, not mentioned in the other thread, is the Other Side Cafe. They specialize in vegan, organic, healthy food. Sort of boston's own hippy granola place, with good food. They are across the street from the Hynes stop on the Green Line, so it would be easy to get to for you.

      Other Side Cafe
      407 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115

      1. Three that come to mind that I like a lot:

        -- Pho So 1 Boston, Dorchester (Fields Corner T stop). Excellent Vietnamese food, including terrific pho.

        -- Cafe Barada, North Cambridge (Davis Square T stop). Tasty (and healthy) Syrian and Lebanese food, often served by the owner who is a truly nice guy.

        -- Helmand, East Cambridge (fairly close to Kendall Square T stop). Outstanding Afghan food at reasonable prices.

        4 Replies
        1. re: hiddenboston

          hiddenboston, do you (or does anyone else) have any particular favorites at Cafe Barada? I keep hearing mixed reviews...I'm wondering if it boils down to some dishes being better than others.

          1. re: finlero

            finlero, I have a couple of favorites there. I love the homemade lentil soup--they add some interesting spices to it--and I've always liked the hummus there; very smooth and rich.

            1. re: hiddenboston

              We tend to go vegetarian when we are there. The mujeddara (lentils and rice) is great comfort food and much more than the sum of its parts, as is the ful muddamus, an addictive concoction of brown beans, lemon, garlic and olive oil that is eaten with syrian bread. The olives are wonderful. They also have a list of rotating specials, one veggie and one not. The food is sort of what your Lebanese grandmother would make, not exotic or upscale, but really down-to-earth, and served with gracious humility.

            2. re: finlero

              i believe you hit the nail on the head it DOES boil down to every rest. has some dishes better than others

          2. I'm of absolutely no help on breakfasts and lunches in the financial district - yogurt & salad being my defaults when traveling heavily for work. I did recently try the bahn mi at Mei Sum Bakery in chinatown. If you think that's healthy, I can recommend it as seriously delicious. T Stop: Boylston on the green line, chinatown on the orange line.

            I'm not sure if Parish Cafe's sandwiches are considered light or not, but I really dig 'em: T Arlington on the green line.

            If you're still trying to stay somewhat healthy for dinner and want some Vietnamese, Xihn Xihn in Chinatown (already mentioned on the other thread) or Pho Pasteur would both be good options for pho etc. T Stop: Boylston on the green line or Chinatown on the orange line.

            There's also all of Fields Corner for tasty Vietnamese, but I'm not sure how far you wish to travel. T: Field Corner on the red line.

            Other SE Asian options include the holy trinity in Coolidge Corner: Khao Sarn (slightly upscale thai with a full bar), Dok Bua (casual thai with fabulous larb), and Rod Dee (cafeteria-style thai known for their noodles and curries). T Stop: Coolidge Corner on the C green line.

            My Cambodian favorite is Floating Rock in Revere - in a sketchy area, far out from the city, a bit of a hike. If you feel like an adventure, it's the Wonderland Stop on the blue line, I think.

            I really enjoy the Tuscan menu at Trattoria Toscona in Fenway. Their pastas & steaks are quite good, simple and tasty. Kenmore stop on all green lines except for E.

            The North End also opens up a whole array of Italian options. There's lots to choose from and many opinions on the board.

            Baraka Cafe in Central Square Cambridge offers another twist on Mediterranean foods - Tunisian, I believe. Everything I've had there was outstanding. Central Square on the Red Line.

            That only covers a few of your requests. Be sure to report back!

            1. Cool! Thanks for all of the suggestions. I'm glad to hear that there's good Vietnamese in the area. That'll definitely take care of a couple dinners. The Other Side Cafe sounds good too. Although I'm staying in the Financial District, I'll be working near the Prudential, so that's pretty convenient.

              I'd forgotten about Helmund! I loved that place. It was ~ 10 minute walk from campus (if I remember correctly). Hopefully it hasn't changed much in the last 5-6 years. I also want to try to get out to a couple other favorites, assuming they're still around...Brown Sugar and Zaftig :D

              I've heard a lot about Trattoria Tuscana, so I think I'll check that out one night. Although I love Italian food, I'm usually disappointed in Italian restaurants, as they tend to be overly liberal w/ olive oil. From what I hear, Trattoria Tuscana has some fairly simple, light fare.

              I'm still not sure about breakfasts, but hopefully it won't be too hard to find some decent oatmeal or something. By the way, does anyone know anything about the new Myers/Chang restaurant? I read about it a couple of months ago, but I can't remember when it's supposed to open.

              2 Replies
              1. re: marckenton

                For breakfast, Rachel's Kitchen does a nice oatmeal, amongst other things.


                1. re: marckenton

                  Zaftigs is still around, still popular, and still fantastic.

                2. For lunch in Copley try Healthworks Cafe. Light and healthy salads and sandwiches made on site with the freshest ingredients. They keep low cal and low fat in mind and have 4 or 5 specials everyday plus a few standards like the chicken salad which is excellent. I eat in the Brookline one a couple of days a week. Same woman (Deborah) oversees both places. It's more of a takeout place than eat in.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ginnyhw

                    The location of Healthworks looks good. Do you happen to know what the hours are? I can't find a listing for it anywhere online.

                    1. re: marckenton

                      Mon- Fri they are open 7-7
                      Sat 9-2
                      closed Sun

                      1. re: ginnyhw

                        Healthworks is a female-only gym -- are guys allowed in the cafe?

                        1. re: finlero

                          Yes. Lots of them buy lunch the Brookine club every day although more men take out than eat in, it is no way a members only. And there are only a few tables to eat at.

                  2. For breakfast or a fast lunch I would recommend Robeks in the Financial District. Its a health cafe with delicious smoothies. They also have sandwiches and salads that always looked good, but the smoothies were so delicious I never strayed from them!

                    1. For seafood, I've read a lot of recommendations for Neptune Oyster on this board. Does anyone know if entrees there are on the lighter side? I feel like most of the seafood I order at high-end restaurants is cooked in a lot of oil or butter, or topped with rich sauces. I don't mind paying a lot for fresh, high-quality seafood, but I'd rather have it simply prepared, and with minimal seasoning.

                      On that note, I've alse seen a couple of recommendations for Oishii Sushi, so I'll probaby check that out.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: marckenton

                        On that note, has anyone tried the grill-your-own option (Ishiyaki?) at Oishii? Is everything up to you-- how long it's cooked, how it's seasoned, etc?

                      2. You could try the vegetarian dishes with mock chicken or goose etc... at New Shanghai in Chinatown. Treat yourself to some steamed fish at Peach Farm or Lucky House.

                        I'd also consider Lebanese food at Reef Cafe (Allston, slightly better imho) or Shawarma King (Brookline).

                        1. Just wanted to report back on my trip. All of the suggestions were great, and I was able to eat healthfully…well, most of the time. My favorite discovery was probably Sultan’s Kitchen. I had the swordfish kebab sandwich my first night there, and was hooked. That’s great stuff, and very reasonably priced. I actually ended up eating there twice (heck, I even bought the guy’s cookbook!). The muhammara was a bit bland (I like mine with some heat), but the red lentil soup was awesome! I wanted to try the gazpacho too – the menu said that it’s available through September, but apparently it’s already out of season. For the sake of comparison, I was going to try the Boston Kebab House my last night there, but they closed early because of a holiday.

                          Sebastian’s was another hit. We really need to get one of those in California. I actually tried the location at the Boston Public library first, but was really disappointed (I didn’t realize that it was different than all the other locations – basically just a selection of pre-made salads). I’m glad I decided to try the other locations. I ended up going to both the Summer St location and the new one in Cambridge (Kendall). The salads were HUGE and amazingly cheap. The vegetable/bean/meat selection was really extensive, and could certainly satisfy almost any palate. I had the sun-dried tomato dressing which was great, although the other choices sounded good as well. The next time I go, I’ll probably try the noodle bowl, which also looked good.

                          I had a couple of lunches at B Good in Back Bay which were decent…turkey burger one day, and the southwest black bean burger the other. Both were tasty and surprisingly filling. The bean burger was actually the first veggie burger I’ve ever had, but with all the flavor from the cilantro and chipotle salsa, I hardly missed the meat.

                          I tried Healthworks one day, but wasn’t too impressed. There was nothing wrong with the salad, but it just wasn’t that memorable (to be honest, I can’t remember exactly what kind of salad I had). I really wanted to try Café Barada one night, but there seemed to be mixed reviews on this board about that and the Reef Café, and since both were somewhat far away, I decided to skip them. Maybe next time. Xinh Xinh was good, but I don’t know that it was that special. I had the papaya salad and a spicy chicken stir fry which were decent.

                          I had one dinner at Brown Sugar in Fenway, which was one of my favorites when I lived in the area. I was going to get the basic pad thai, which I always loved, but I ended up getting one of the chef’s specials, the spicy basil pad thai. Delicious! Quite spicy too, which I always found to be a rare thing in Boston. They also had a spicy mango curry on the specials menu which sounded awesome, but alas, I would’ve had to extend my trip for that. I had lobster one night at Legal Seafood which was predictably delicious. Although I never cared much for the atmosphere, I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed in the seafood. I also had a chicken pizza at Regina (North End). I’m not sure what people on this board think of Regina’s, but I always liked it, and this time was as good as I remembered it. Not exactly on the healthy list, but worth it…as was Zaftig’s for brunch. The only thing I’ve ever had there is the banana-stuffed French toast, and this time was no different. Damn, that’s good stuff.

                          Anyway, thanks again for the suggestions! It was actually pretty easy to find healthy food that tasted decent :)