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Feb 20, 2010 07:14 PM

Healthier eating in Nola (midtown)?

We will be living part-time in Nola beginning this week. We live in San Francisco where there's tons of cheap healthy food. We haven't ventured extensively around Nola but we have been all over Louisiana and the healthiest thing we could find (the salads were like iceberg lettuce swimming in mayonaisse) were fajitas. Not real boring tofu and brown rice food, but stuff like Korean bbq - grilled meats and not fried everything? I'm terrified we'll blow up like a balloon - as I can barely manage my weight here in California.

Not to say we don't LOVE everything we eat, but we did start to feel heavy and slugging and by day 3 you could really feel it. Anyway, since we'll be livin there we could always pack a George Foreman and eat home more often, but for this first month it'll be a lotta eating out.

We love cafes, hole in the wall diner and also tend to eat larger later lunches - not so much a dress up and go out kind of diners. I've tried all the resources I know of. We are living not far at all from Magazine Street.


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  1. Sounds like you are describing the mid west (just kidding). New Orleans has plenty of healthy options even at restaurants with fried foods.

    Cafe Minh:

    Cafe Degas:

    Some casual options:
    Whole Foods Uptown Magazine St:

    Cafe Rani Magazine St

    Surrey's Jucie Bar and Cafe Magazine St

    Slim Goodies Diner Magazine St

    Lebanon's Cafe:


    Ninja Sushi

    Juan's Flying Burrito

    1. I found a great place to eat on my last trip in Dec. My daughter is vegie and I am not so we are always searching for a place that we both can enjoy. I would recommend The Green Goddess, it's new, opened Aug 09 and it was one of the best places I ate while in NO. It is like a mini Herbsaint. Limited seating but the food is amazing and the prices are great.
      The Green Goddess
      307 Exchange Place
      New Orleans, LA
      504-301-3347 They up date the menu all the time but you can go to their website and get the latest

      1. +1 on the Green Goddess!

        When I want healthy and cheap, I can always find something at Mona's [which is Lebanese food, like the Lebanon Cafe]. An appetizer of hummus and an appetizer of grape leaves are more than a substantial meal.

        Whole Foods has a good salad bar.

        A lot of the health here lies in the preparation, I think. Yes, we have really great fried seafood, but we also have great fried oysters, steamed crawfish, sauteed shrimp, etc.

        1. I know what you mean, enzosf! I grew up in New Orleans, left for 10 years, and came back a year and a half ago. After living in other places, I came to realize that the definition of "healthy" is different down here! It's hard to find foods as simple as brown rice, organic, or farm raised in restaurants down here!

          I live off of Whole Foods (or Whole Paycheck as we call it) and cook all the time in order to keep the diet that makes me happy!

          That being said, we've learned to make do down here. There's a great little hole in the wall called Cafe Bamboo at the river end of Esplanade near the quarter that has great veggie food.

          You'll find a lot of chinese and japanese restaurants can sub brown rice.

          Also, like others said, there's healthy options at a lot of restaurants (you may just have to redefine healthy). Try not to think tvery hard about sodium levels or added ingredients.

          I hope this response is helpful.

          5 Replies
          1. re: briox

            Just as an fyi Bamboo is all vegetarian/vegan and some raw options, no meat.

            briox, hope you broaden your outlook, there are those options on local menus ( the ones I listed and many more for sure in the beyond casual category) and more than a few chefs do use local, organic etc There are man healthy, in shape people in NOLA, yes, really. + There are more places than there were 10 years ago!

            I think it also comes down to choices, how much and often something is consumed. That said New Orleans has truly diverse dining options like no other american city. Thank goodness! Even neighborhood po boy shops offer grilled chicken, grilled shrimp salads etc

            Many grocery stores now Rouse's, Winn-Dixie, Dorignac's, carry local and organic...

            re salt, I agree many Americans in general consume way too much salt, especially in processed and packaged foods

            Cafe Bamboo
            435 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116

            1. re: Suzy Wong

              Suzy, I don't disagree with you about anything you said!

              I love living in New Orleans, and I love eating in New Orleans. I hope you don't take offense to my prior comments.

              You can't get as many organic options at the grocery stores you listed as you can at Whole Foods, though. Especially if you are looking for something like grass or grain fed beef.

              I eat all kinds of unhealthy foods in New Orleans, and I completely agree about it coming down to choices. That being said, there aren't nearly as many healthy, informed choices, and definitely not as many affordable choices as there are in SF or other healthier cities in the US.

              Yes you can get grilled chicken or shrimp, but how many times can you get it on whole wheat bread or with a guarantee of no trans fats? How often do they tell you where that chicken or shrimp came from? Not too often.

              Believe it or not, nowadays in other cities they do share all of that info and have a whole grain option in addition to a healthy protein.

                1. re: briox

                  well, at least for shrimp, lots of places around here will tell you where it came from - da gulf!

                  1. re: briox

                    No worries, I wasn't offended. Right or wrong, maybe I am biased I just don't (personally) agree with the "healthier" comment, there are overweight ,unhealthy people everywhere in the US! Overall New Orleans is so very different in many ways from the typical southern city (some not all) and we don't all ride around on alligators HA

                    I can't comment on chicken or beef, I don't eat either.

                    Of course! WF's has more options then the other stores I listed, but I was trying to say it's great even a store as mainstream Winn-Dixie is carrying organic produce, canned foods, meats, etc and brands such as Amy's and Morning Star. It's a start!

                    I enjoy dining out sometimes, but there is a lot to be said for choosing and preparing ones own food, there is certainly a major control factor. I honestly do not inquire about the origin of each food item I order (maybe that's not the best way, but it's a bit too much for me)

                    I will say N.O. "Unhealthy" foods taste better than those in other places. HA

                    re trans fats, everyone even processed foods are getting away from that, thankfully.

              1. Well, as a born, half raised and very proud native who also has had the pleasure of living in San Francisco, I can admit that we absolutely cannot compete with SF in terms of cheap healthy great dining options. I am a vegetarian and regularly rue all my long lost Mission haunts. That being said, there are a handful of restaurants that fit the bill, particularly, like has been said, in Lebanese, Japanese, and Vietnamese foods. Both of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants Kim Son and Pho Tau Bay (quite cheap by nola standards) are on the West Bank, so require a car and a crossing of the Mississippi. Both are local favorites and I believe what you are seeking. Also, Bennachin in the quarter is an affordable african restaurant with relatively healthy options, and good lunch specials. (search it on this board, and be ready for their slow service). You might like to check out the Marigny for places like Suko Thai and Shiro's little India kitchen (though I haven't been to Suko Thai in years, and I've never tried Shiro's). Also the bar Mimi's in the Marigny has some great, relatively healthy tapas, but they may only be open at night.

                Lebanons is a personal standby, as is Juan's Flying Burrito. There is also Mayas across the street from Juan's, which is very good, but pricier, and I don't know if they do lunch. And, to be honest, I too frequent the Whole Foods Salad Bar a lot!

                Just to note, if you are near Magazine, then by our strange, local terms, you are not "midtown" with we call" Mid-City." You are either living in what is called uptown, garden district, lower garden district or warehouse district. Your nearby dining options will be varied depending on which neighborhood you live in.

                Good luck, and hope you enjoy yourselves here!

                2 Replies
                1. re: swampsue

                  I was going to suggest Vietnamese, but they weren't in the area asked about.
                  I love Ba Mien on Chef Hwy in eastern New Orleans and the Dong Phuong Bakery/Restaurant, and 99 Market, wonderful Vietnamese community.

                  I probably fall more into the pescatarian category at times than vegetarian (but no leather products) and am a native and lifelong resident of Orleans parish (flooded house to prove it) and never had a problem anywhere finding something I like. I've visited other cities, but no place can compare to N.O. cuisine wise (and in many other ways: architecture, music, cultural diversity) IMO.

                  (PS Some of my suggestions, Surrey's, Slim Goodies, Cafe Rani etc weren't ethnic, but quite a few were)

                  1. re: Suzy Wong

                    These are all really terrific recommendations - I found some of these places on my own on Yelp but I couldn't really tell - middle eastern places are great in some areas and others are basically greasy souvlaki and that's it - but this will be a help. I'm sure we'll have plenty of the heavy stuff as it is and we are not far from the Whole Foods. We won't really be there long enough to be doing actual cooking, and I know y'all don't have Trader Joes, which is like AIR out here.

                    Glad to hear about the different asian cuisines - we do eat that constantly here - but when we were there last time I didn't do the legwork.

                    Thanks so much!!