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Jan 7, 2011 10:58 AM

Low Carb?

We've been eating very low carb and really appreciating the easy weight loss and increased energy. We would still like to eat out every now and again. We can make Dino's, Red Robin, and Applebees work and are hoping to expand the repetoire.

Who else is low carb friendly? We're looking for affordable meals where the restaurant will substitute low carb foods for high carb ones. And tasty--if I wanted a plain broiled chicken breast I could do that at home, but I wouldn't do that because it would be too bland and boring. We use a lot of spices and herbs, and sauces for rich, full flavors.

"Very low carb" means, primarily:
* 10-20 grams of carbohydrate per meal
* no grains
* no beans/legumes
* no potatoes or corn
* no fruit
* no sugar/sweeteners

Hoping a few readers out there are into this eating style and can give some recommendations, or point out other suitable boards to post my request on.

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  1. Have you read the book? If you have then you can eat almost anywhere.... go ahead and name 10 random restaurants and you can find many things on the menu... if nothing more you can substitute sides for a side salad with blue cheese or ranch.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ashii

      Which book is that? I've mainly been using several health/nutrition blogs, most of which don't have such suggestions, or even recipes.

      And, I guess after reflecting on this since I first posted, I'm really looking for low-carb friendly restaurants. I don't like asking for 2 or 3 substitutions in a meal, and ending up with something that's frankly kinda boring. The lack of adequate seasoning (and I don't count salt here) in most places is truly lame. My biggest wish in life is to never have to rely on mainstream styles of meals, but that's another story. lol

      1. re: Enso

        Sashimi is low carb if you skip the rice so, maybe your favorite sushi place in town?

        It's been a zillion years since I've been to Mai Village, but I recall they had these lettuce beef wraps--a little messy because they bring them on some kind of sizzling hot plate and you assemble yourself, but still fun. Maybe call them and ask if they serve that still? (and if my recollection is still good on that point.)

        I wish we had great Korean BBQ (where you grill at your table on a hibachi) as that's pretty low-carb.

        You can assemble a pretty solid meal from appetizers at Hmong and Vietnamese restaurants--say, satay and lettuce wraps. I was looking af Jasmine 26's menu, for instance, and it seemed to offer those two as apps.

        My biggest hesitation in recommending Vietnamese is to be aware of the dipping sauces, which can be pretty sugary. And, of course, you'll have to decline the rice.

        How about the lovely grilled meats at Brasa? You'd have to skip the carb-y sides, but they have a few more vegetable-focused sides that should work for you. You can use their gluten-free menu as your starting point!

        I'll bet you can do pretty well at The Strip Club, too. Steak houses and supper clubs in general are pretty easy if you just request vegetables instead of the potato... Skip the bread.

        I dont' know if it would offend your chowhound sensibilities to eat at A La Salsa in Midtown Global Market, but many of their entrees come with carb-y sides (beans, rice, etc.) AND/OR vegetables. They will definitely just give you double vegetables. Skip the chips and margaritas of course.

        Surprisingly, Masa (the restaurant, not the food) is pretty low-carb friendly if you ask. And avoid the entire "corn based" dishes part of the menu...

        Wrong season, alas, but I think you could do pretty well at Sea Salt, too.


        Mai Village
        394 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55103

        The Strip Club
        378 Maria Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

        Jasmine 26 Restaurant & Bar
        , Minneapolis, MN 55401

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. I love my breakfasts at El Burrito Mercado in St. Paul. I get chorizo and eggs, decline the rice and beans, and ask for a dollop of guacamole and some white cheese. I then put a lot of cilantro and chopped onions over the whole thing. Sometime I will fill one of the corn tortillas they give me. You can decline the tortillas also.

        If that doesn't satisfy your hunger, you can get some warm carnita and chicharron on the way out in the deli to snack on or to reheat later.

        El Burrito Mercado
        175 Cesar Chavez St, St Paul, MN 55107

        1. Low carb? Or low simple carb? Because if you're aiming for overall low carb, you'd be knocking out fruits and vegetables, in which case you're left with just a chunk of protein on your plate. In that case, you don't need to worry about substitutions - just tell them to bring your steak/chicken/fish/pork/whatever, and hold all the sides.

          Given that reality, I'm guessing you're really talking about low simple carb, which means no white rice, pasta, bread products, anything with refined sugars. And given that, like TDQ said, there are a ton of choices. Just about any restaurant will have those options open to you. Steak with roasted vegetables? Half a roasted chicken with vegetables? Fish prepared any way with vegetables? Done, done, and done on most any menu.

          If you like BBQ, then you have several good choices in the Twin Cities. If you like roasted meat, Brasa is a good choice. Sashimi? Done. Steak? Done - from the cheap and mediocre (a la Outback and Applebee's) to the divine (Capital Grill). Really looking for protein overload? Belly up to Fogo de Chao (though I wouldn't say it's affordable).

          Looking for the everyday? There's a new joint that opened in St. Paul, on South Robert Street - Pollo Campero. Excellent roasted chicken with great citrus seasoning. Get it with their Campero beans, and you have a low cost, well spiced protein meal. For that matter, hit up Chipotle, get the bowl, and tell them to hold the rice. You're left with a protein bomb.

          You do have a ton of choices available, and as ashii said, virtually any restaurant will have options that fit your goal. That said, you won't have the entire menu to choose from.

          One cautionary note - a consequence of going to "low carb friendly" restaurants, like Applebee's, Friday's, etc., is that they tend to serve high salt, high fat dishes. That's fairly well established. One question you should ask yourself is, Is it worth it to remove some carbs from your diet at the expense of adding high amounts of saturated fat and sodium. Because unfortunately, I'm not sure that "affordable", "Low carb friendly", and "low fat and low sodium" are compatible when eating out. You do have some excellent low carb, low fat, low sodium options, but they will be more expensive - like sashimi.

          Applebee's Restaurant
          2201 Coulee Rd, Hudson, WI 54016

          1 Reply
          1. re: foreverhungry

            Lots of great suggestions. One caution though, if you are watching your carb intake to lose weight, as opposed to keeping it off and avoiding a carbohydrate response, you pretty much have to forgo any asian resturant. The amount of sugar, whether it be in soy sauce (yes, soy) or the multitude of other forms sugar comes in and is used is pretty high. As a long time low-carb dieter and lifestyle, it is probably the one thing I really miss. I can cook asian at home using substiututes, but going out is a rare treat.

          2. The original comment has been removed