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Healthy Food in San Fran

My husband and I are coming to San Francisco from Toronto in a few months. We are both extremely athletic and health conscious, but we also are foodies with big appetites. We are staying near Union Square. Can anyone recommend inexpensive places for us to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner where there are healthy options available, as well as ideas for "healthier" treats like frozen yogurt, baked goods, etc.?

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  1. Cafe Gratitude but it's not that close to Union Square. There are three locations in SF, the one on 14th street may be the closest.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Scott M

      I'd be interested in Spindoctor's reaction to Cafe Gratitude. My guess is that it might be too much for most visitors. But it would be interesting to have a few data points.

    2. Spindoctor - San Francisco prides itself on its ingredient-driven, farm-to-table cuisine. If you stay away from the chain restaurants (Cheesecake Factory), you are bound to pleased by healthier options on most menus.

      For breakfast, your best bet will be Dottie's True Blue Cafe, but it is small and there is invariably wait.

      The Frozen Yogurt shops are over by the Metreon and in SoMa but better ones are found on Fillmore and in the Mission.

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      Dottie's True Blue Cafe
      522 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      2 Replies
      1. re: CarrieWas218

        There are quite a few fro-yo shops in the Financial District. I like the Yoppi on Pine (address is 101 California, but the entrance is on Pine between Davis and Front) which has the biggest selection of toppings I've ever seen (many more than the Yoppi on Sansome).

        1. re: CarrieWas218

          Yep. AFAIK, Xanath in the Mission and Fraiche in Pacific Heights both make their yogurt out of Strauss creamery organic grass fed milk. What about Bi-Rite creamery? They're ice cream, but they also use Strauss organic milk as well as local/organic ingredients.

        2. Has Jamba Juice hit Toronto yet? They make some nice fruit smoothies, which I prefer to fro-yo (with the exception of Pinkberry, but we don't have one in SF yet).

          Vietnamese restaurants all tend to have tasty refreshing healfthful-feeling spring rolls. At Mai's (on clement, nowhere near union square, but maybe others on here know other locations) they have a number of variations you can roll yourself at the table, which adds a level of freshness to the whole thing.

          The Ferry building is not far, but also not cheap. But there is plenty of healthful fare. Hog Island Oyster Bar and the Mushroom dealer (forget the name) are 2 favorites of mine there. And on Saturday you've got the farmer's market which should provide you some fun/joy.

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          Pinkberry
          368 Santana Row, San Jose, CA 95128

          3 Replies
          1. re: pauliface

            They've got better than Jamba Juice, they've got Fresh. One side of the menu Jamba juice like things, on the other Fair traded coffee espressos and healthy food like Cafe Gratitude only cooked.
            http://www.freshrestaurants.ca/pdf/ta...

            1. re: pauliface

              I would disagree with Jamba Juice being healthy, even though it's marketed as such. With the exception of maybe the fresh-pressed orange or carrot juice, but you can find that in Toronto easily. While they use fruit, they also base most of their smoothies (even the all-fruit ones) with fruit juice from concentrate. Most of their regular size smoothies have ~100 grams of sugar - yikes.

              1. re: Radical347

                I couldn't agree more, point for point.

            2. Correction about previous response, there's only one location of Cafe Gratitude left in SF (there are other locations on the east bay). The place is located at 20th street and Harrison. It's a vegan place, not everyone likes it. Mostly raw veggies, grains and fruits, so it's super healthy. The staff seems like they belong to a cult. Not recommended for newbies, and not cheap either.

              Dottie's True Blue Cafe is a small diner. It's listed in most travel guides. Typical American breakfast/brunch food, not exactly healthy. I would NOT recommend it, unless u like to wait in line for a long time.

              There are dozens of little sandwich & salad shops around the FiDi area that would fit your needs - Working Girls' Cafe, Cafe Venue, Mixt Greens, Boxed Foods Company, Chez Carla, Specialty's Cafe & Bakery, The Toaster Oven, etc. most have multiple locations.

              Except for a few Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, dinner is usually expensive in the downtown area. Take BART to go to the Mission area (get off at either 16th or 24th street stations) for a wider choice of dinner options. Get a map so u don't get lost.

              To save money during your vacation, perhaps buy extra to go lunches to eat for dinner in your hotel room. There are many farmers markets around the city (Ferry Plaza, Crocker Galleria, Civic Center, Mint Plaza), so that's another healthy option.

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              Chez Carla
              200 Pine St Ste 180, San Francisco, CA 94104

              Mixt Greens
              114 Sansome St Ste 120, San Francisco, CA 94104

              Dottie's True Blue Cafe
              522 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

              Cafe Venue
              67 5th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

              Specialty's Cafe & Bakery
              101 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA

              Working Girls' Cafe
              122 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105

              4 Replies
              1. re: L C

                Thanks everyone, I'll be sure to check out some of these options!

                1. re: Spindoctor_Canuck

                  The real deal better than Cafe gratitude is Ananda Fuara- mostly vegetarian great salads, soups and specials- Market at Larkin near the Public Library and Asian Museum, walking distance from Union Sq good for lunch.
                  http://www.anandafuara.com/

                  Mocca- 175 Maiden Lane- lunch
                  (between Grant Ave & Stockton St) - not cheap but they have a good selection of fresh food, you can sit outside, cash only

                  I like a light lunch at FreshMarket Neiman Marcus- good sandwiches and salads
                  150 Stockton St
                  Ferry Plaza for baked goods- Frog Hollow and Acme Bread.

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                  Acme Bread
                  Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                  Neiman Marcus Cafe
                  400 Stanford Shopping CT, Palo Alto, CA

                2. re: L C

                  Mixt Greens has beautiful, delicious, expensive salads. I loved/hated working nearby.

                  -----
                  Mixt Greens
                  114 Sansome St Ste 120, San Francisco, CA 94104

                  1. re: artemis

                    What about the Plant Cafe Organic on Pier 3, the Embarcadero?
                    They seem to do breakfast, lunch, brunch, AND dinner in their restaurant.
                    Does it also have views?
                    (I have not been there. I am also planning a trip to SF and noticed it on Google maps.)

                    http://www.theplantcafe.com/
                    "Our new location is now open downtown on the corner of Front & Pine"

                3. In addition to what's above, look up Farm Table for breakfast and Fraiche frozen yogurt on Fillmore. Yes on Cafe Gratitude and Vietnamese restaurants.

                  The main advice is to get out of Union Square to eat. The most homogeneous and mediocre food can be found there.

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                  Farm Table
                  754 Post St, San Francisco, CA

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Windy

                    (Windy, you've tried Cafe Gratitude and liked it? I've never been, but it's really close to me, so i'm curious....)

                    Tlaloc has a "healthier" take on Mexican, located at 525 Commercial St., an alleyway between Sacramento and Clay, Sansome & Leidesdorff. Across from it is another Mixt Greens for the expensive salads mentioned above.

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                    Mixt Greens
                    114 Sansome St Ste 120, San Francisco, CA 94104

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      Yes, the cold coconut curry soup and cafe salads are delicious, as are the pies. The spreads are a mixed bag, but I'm not big on spreads to begin with.

                      Skip Gracias Madre though. Mexican food doesn't need to be too healthy; and substituting nut milk for cheese and adding kale.... It just makes you wish you'd gone to Poc Chuch for chimole de pavo.

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                      Gracias Madre
                      2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      1. re: Windy

                        I'm not a huge Gracias Madre fan, either, but I don't understand why Mexican food doesn't need to be healthy to any degree that's different than any other cuisine.

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                        Gracias Madre
                        2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                        1. re: maigre

                          I have been reading so many good reports about Gracias (particularly the cashew "cheese"), I was planning to go there for lunch with my out-of-town friend for what sounded both tasty and "only in SFBA."

                          Could you please be more specific in your criticism?

                          1. re: Fine

                            It's been months since I ate there, but my recollection is that the food I tried didn't have such distinctive flavors. I ordered a dish that had a few tacos and some beans. I recall the tortillas having a kind of crumbly, course texture, which didn't cut it for me. I wish I could remember what the fillings were. It was more bland in its flavors and textures than it was "bad." I don't even mean bland in the spicy sense. There just wasn't much character, nothing that made me want to savor each bite.

                            I like the idea of it, though. It just didn't do it for me, at least on that visit.

                            If you're really curious and you live in this area, I'd recommend checking it out just to see what you think. It's not terrible in the "stay away" sense. I expect that I'll give it another try someday.

                        2. re: Windy

                          thanks, good to know. And i had no intention on visiting GM - i like my Mexican full of real cheesy goodness.

                    2. Someone escaping from the frozen north will appreciate our farmers markets. The Ferry Building on Saturday morning farmers market is highly recommended -- even in the dead of winter the bounty is impressive, maybe especially so for one from Toronto.

                      And a weekday visit to Tartine would be another good option. Their sandwiches and pastries are healthy in the sense of fresh baked with qualitative ingredients. Bi Rite Creamery, on the same block, is also worth taking in.

                      I'll 2nd CarriwWas218's observation that healthy, farm-to-table goodness is almost the norm around here. So if you can be a bit more specific about the kinds of food you like, we can give more specific advice.