Boston area restaurants with healthy options
Does anyone know of any good restaurants in or around Boston that have areas of the menu devoted to lower-cal options? I know that they do this at lots of chain restaurants, but I'm looking for places that are a little more up-scale and where the food is great.
Interested to hear what other people say, but I find this question difficult to answer - I think I expect to eat relatively high calorie food when I dine out.
There are a number of vegetarian-focused places, but I get the sense that's not what you mean.
I think my default is to control portion size. Get a half-order of pasta for your entree and a salad for appetizer, etc.
Also, check out Grezzo, though not sure if the raw food actually has fewer calories.
re: Bob Dobalina
I agree that this is a tough question. I can think of some specific dishes that seemed low-cal to me (for example, there is/was a quinoa salad on the bar menu at Casablanca that is quite good and probably pretty good for you), but I can't think of any restaurants that specifically have low-cal menu sections.
As Bob says, your best bet is probably portion control and careful ordering. I would say that I suspect vegetarian dishes are often not particularly low-cal, as they typically have lots of cheese and butter. Vegan dishes, however, are almost certainly pretty low-calorie; Upstairs on the Square is the only restaurant I can think of at the moment that specifically caters to vegans, although Grezzo probably does as well (never been).
Since I lead a bit of a secret double life as both chowhound and health nut, this question is often rattling around in my head. My usual MO is to exercise in the morning, count calories and eat light by day, then relax and eat what I want for dinner; that said, a few chowish places I can think of that definitely have some lower-cal options:
East Coast Grill (Inman) - the grilled stuff, especially the seafood, tends to be reasonably low in calories. Along similar lines, nearly any restaurant specializing in seafood will have some grilled options that will be reasonably healthy.
Atasca (Kendall) - Portuguese restaurant in Cambridge, with a number of lighter seafood dishes.
Sultan's Kitchen (Financial District) - good midscale Turkish lunch spot with a number of drier-cooked dishes, such as swordfish kebabs.
O Ya (Leather District) - a number of people have complained about leaving this super-expensive Japanese izakaya place still hungry. While I don't fall in that camp, the portions are definitely small. The food is as sublime as it is pricey. In general, Japanese food tends to be pretty good for this if you watch what you order.
Oleana (near Kendall) - the vegetarian tasting menu is both a great deal ($42 for five meze and dessert) and, in my experience, not too bad for you as upscale dining goes.
Chocho's (Porter) - probably more along the lines of nutritious than low-cal, but I like the reasonably healthily prepared Korean food. Good fresh veggies, you can get brown rice in the bibimbap, etc. Not as tasty as, say, Wuchon House in Union Square, but probably a bit healthier.
One additional thought: shabu shabu, or Japanese hot pot. Plain meat boiled in broth with vegetables. Usually noodles on the side, but even with that, I'm sure a full dinner serving would clock in under 800 calories. Plus since you're cooking it yourself, you tend to eat more slowly, which in turn tends to make you realize you're full faster.
Kaze and Shabu Zen are both in Chinatown. Shabu Zen is laid-out more nicely, Kaze has a more interesting selection of broths; my favorite is the spicy curry.
I went to Bon Savor in JP and was very pleased with the portion size (moderate) with matching price point and the nice treatment of vegetables. Amongst the healthy items we had were the spring salad with pears and maple vinagrette, inca ceviche, chayote stew with a spicy tomato cream sauce, all delicious.
Perhaps Vee Vee in JP? Seems healthful, but not sure if it fills the low-cal requirement.
763 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
A steamed lobster anywhere, with a side of salad or steamed veggies, is always good.
Or a piece of grilled fish, or chicken.
Most Chinese restos will have a "steamed fish and vegetables" option somewhere on the menu. In fact, it all comes down to, you know what you could, and should eat. Most places will make it if you ask. A steamed fish, with ginger and scallion, in Chinatown? Some rice?
Sashimi at any sushi house, with some veggies and pickles on the side. how abstemious do you want to be?
One of my favorite diet meals is steamed squid or shrimp salad at any Thai restaurant. Hot, spicy and guilt free...
Thanks for all the responses....I'll have to check out a few of those places. Crazy that there aren't any nice restaurants in this city that have a healthy menu section! I think that people would want that. There is a fabulous place in Ann Arbor (where I'm from) that is very upscale and has about 5 amazing menu items w/ calories listed. I love it cause I can go there and feel like I'm not holding back but still know exactly how many calories I'm eating and not "cheat" on my diet :) That's the type of place I was hoping to find here. Oh well, I will have to stick to mostly going out on splurge days.
I see that your original request was for a special menu section of healthy options. I have to say, the only place I've seen anything like that would be at various old-timey diners where they have a separate page of "eating light" options- usually some chef's salad with chicken strips (request extra dressing to add 700 calories), a half cantaloupe with cottage cheese and a few other completely unappealing items. Also, as you mention, some TGIFriday's-type chains separate their menus out in such a manner. But I think the "pick and choose your own" approach suggested by various posters will probably get you much better food than eating somewhere where they're willing to police your calories for you. Good luck.