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10Best New Orleans restaurants for healthy food



It's not true that the only vegetable in New Orleans is fried okra.  While Creole cuisine is known for its rich, buttery sauces and fried food is ubiquitous in these parts, there are plenty of chefs that recognize that visitors and locals can't consume that kind of food every day. Eat Fit NOLA, an Oschner health program founded by registered dietitian Molly Kimball, has more than 75 restaurant partners in the Greater New Orleans area, including the likes of Commander's Palace and Bourbon House in the French Quarter.  Eat Fit NOLA is also featured on menus at the Mercedes Benz Superdome, Audubon Nature Institute, and Louis Armstrong International Airport. Kimball has collaborated with local restaurants to create better-for-you items right on the menu, making it effortless for anyone to eat nutritiously, anywhere in the city. With starters and desserts weighing it at 300 calories or less, and main dishes at 600, the emphasis is on amping up the flavor without adding a lot of unwanted fat. 

There has also been a surge in cafes catering to vegetarians and vegans, spots where fresh juices flow, gluten free options abound and asking for tofu instead of eggs won't raise an eyebrow.  These 10 places all deliver the goods, and there are more opening and adapting to greener pastures every day.


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Breads on Oak raises the bar on bread, pastry and breakfast sammies for Uptowners on historic Oak Street. Open Wednesday through Sunday and serving breakfast and lunch, this artisinal bakery specializes in Old World style breads studded with fruits and nuts, seeds and multi grains. Extremely vegan and vegetarian friendly, you can order a mean locally sprouted tofu scramble on pumpkin cheddar biscuit and all kinds of veggies between two hearty pieces of the break of your choice. Frittatas are offered most weekends along with all kinds of gooey pastry. Try the eggless salad sandwich and the mushroom and walnut pate. There is outdoor seating, great for Fido and the kids are welcome here. Vegan and gluten free breads, pastries and sandwiches abound here.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Lots of healthful options make this uptown spot a tasty idea.

Beth's expert tip: BOA is a good stop for the gluten averse.

Read more about Breads on Oak →


Slim Goodies Diner
Photo courtesy of Jennifer


Slim Goodies Diner is a dive-y diner located in the Garden District/Irish Channel portion of Magazine Street in New Orleans. The venue has a retro feel with the old Coke signs, red leather booths and counter stools. Breakfast and brunch is the big draw here, and waits can be long if you come at peak times (after 9 am). A clipboard out front serves as the wait list, where you write your own name and wait to be called. Prepare to indulge in "slammers", breakfast combos that overflow the plate, with plenty of veggie and even vegan options. There's a well spiced veggie burger and the salads are fresh and ample. Slim Goodies is cash-only, but does have an on-site ATM. They don't have a liquor license, but you can BYO.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: A tofu scramble, tasty veggie burger and fresh salads make Slim's a good choice for a mixed crowd.

Beth's expert tip: Try to come in before 9 am to avoid massive wait times if you're breakfasting.

Read more about Slim Goodies Diner →


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Casa Borrega
Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono


Located in a green, historical renovation of an 1891 Greek Revival home on Oretha Castle Haley, the quickly changing arts corridor in Central City, Casa Borrega is a fantastic little taco bar. Besides a great selection of margaritas, the menu dishes authentic street food, the kind you'd find in Mexico City. The ceviche is delish, same for trios of tacos stuffed with te likes of tequila marinated lamb and chorizo. The special appetizer the night of our visit was a relleno from heaven. Portions are large, so start by sharing an entree unless you're famished. More vegetarian than vegan, you'll find fresh, healthful takes on Mexican dishes and plenty of veg to keep you smiling. Snag a seat in the outdoor courtyard if the weather permits. Live music is featured most weekends, from Cuban and salsa to flamenco.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: This restaurant is yet another sign that Central City along Oretha Castle Haley is a delicious place to visit.

Beth's expert tip: Combine a visit with a show at nearby Zeitgeist theater.

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Mona's Cafe
Photo courtesy of Harmony


Sometimes a body can't eat one more fried pickle or butter sauced piece of fish. This no frills Mediterranean eatery on Frenchmen Street is an oasis of fresh Greek salad, grilled kebabs and creamy hummus. Vegetarians can find plenty to munch on, the Lebanese tea is bracing and prices won't break the budget. Although the place could use a good scrubbing, the food is consistent and a welcome respite from fried everything offered by most other Frenchmen Street spots. Mona's has other locations uptown, the Irish Channel and in mid-city. There's a little market with some Middle Eastern ingredients attached to the restaurant.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Healthy dining is possible even late night along Frenchmen thanks to Mona's.

Beth's expert tip: You can bring your own libation to this fresh Mediterranean eatery on Frenchmen Street.

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Seed
Photo courtesy of Romel Sanchez


The food is so pretty at this at this airy restaurant dedicated to vegan, vegetarian, raw and gluten free dishes you may be tempted to eat your plate. Local, sustainable ingredients power a menu with a surprising number of New Orleans specialties, tweaked but not torked. You can still enjoy comfort foods like nachos and chili cheese fries - made with cashew quesa, to New Orleans favorites like "inspired by "gumbo, a tasty simmer made with traditional roux , okra, green and red peppers, collard greens, mushrooms and spicy seitan if you're feeling frisky. Food so good you won't miss the meat.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Seed is an inventive leader in Cajun meets vegan cuisine.

Beth's expert tip: Try one of the freshly juiced heart healthy cocktails.

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Arana Taqueria Y Cantina
Photo courtesy of Katie Sikora Photography


Arana Taqueria y Cantina, home to local chef Richard Papier, is a popular Magazine Street specializing in flavorfuil Mexican cuisine. The name, which means spider in Spanish, is a nod to the chef's longtime nickname. Look for slow braised pork, beef, chicken and duck cooked in banana leaves and dishes seasoned with achiote. Papier, who has worked alongside chefs Emeril Lagasse, Donald link and Susan Spicer, gets creative with smoky chicken mole, a send up on chicken fried steak called torta Milanese and a variety of 12 different tacos including killer fish tacos with jalapeno sauce and a tasty carne asada. The chef recently launched a new menu featuring crowd pleasing Mexican dishes like fajitas, burritos and enchiladas - including the New Orleans-flavored fried oyster tostadas.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: This is a solid spot for tasty and healthful Mexican on Magazine.

Beth's expert tip: Sunday brunch includes $18 bottomless mimosas and margaritas.

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Johnny Sánchez
Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono


The Mexican love child of local uber chef John Besh and Food Network wunderkind Aarón Sánchez, Johnny Sánchez is the best thing to happen to Poydras Street since Sculpture for New Orleans. A place that gives the option of roasted grasshoppers on the freshly made guac gets a body's attention. The menu is locally charged and full of authentic Mexican flavors. A seasonal specialty, the fried Brussels sprouts "salad" is really a revelatory warm veg dish tossed with bits of roasted squash, pomegranate and queso. The pork belly tacos are sweet with pineapple glaze and savory with swiney goodness. Lamb enchiladas, yellowtail tostados, grilled sweetbread tacos with chorizo - what's not to like? There are some interesting (and pricey) wines by the glass along with a very good house margarita and a full list of sipping tequilas. By the way, the place also happens to be gorgeous, bright with a colorful Day of the Dead wall mural and Chihuly-style overhead chandeliers. Service is informed and attentive.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Two celebrity chefs are making beautiful tacos together in the CBD.

Beth's expert tip: Because the restaurant stays open from 11 am til close, mid afternoon is a sweet spot for avoiding the crowds.

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French Quarter
Green Goddess
Photo courtesy of Jennifer


There are plenty of tasty vegan and vegetarian options at this funky little spot powered by creative chef Paul Artigues. Expect a wait, as reservations aren't an option for one of the coveted 14 seats that literally spill out onto the alley in nice weather. In addition to his take on Creole flavors, chef Artigues features global-inspired dishes with special emphasis on Indian cuisine. Try the pork sugarcane lollipops with coconut slaw or the South Indian uttapam (a pancake with onions, peas, peppers, tomatoes and panchpuran rolled and filled with vegan curry). Open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Creative use of veggies sure to please carnivores and vegans alike.

Beth's expert tip: If there's anything worth cheating for, it's the sweet and salty bacon sundae on the dessert list.

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Satsuma Cafe
Photo courtesy of Bertholf


Green is beautiful at Satsuma, a fetching dining spot situated on Dauphine Street in Bywater and on Maple Street Uptown. Yard eggs scrambled with basil pesto and shaved Nueske's ham, free trade coffee and freshly made juices concocted in their industrial juicer behind the bar are just a few of the daily specials. Vegans are in heaven here, thanks to dishes like the tofu scramble and black bean burger with avocado mash. Eat indoors or on the outside patio, and definitely plan on trying some of the green juice blends. Satsuma uptown is in walking distance to the universities and Audubon Park.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Satsuma Cafe has some excellent gluten-free desserts including brownies and Almond Honey Cake.

Beth's expert tip: Amp up the fresh made juice blends with a shot of wheat grass for extra energy.

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Cbd/warehouse
Carmo
Photo courtesy of Artz Baglez


Carmo is a breath of fresh air in a city full of rich and decadent food. From its tropical vibe and art gallery setting to its menu of fresh, raw, light and tasty dishes, Carmo delivers on all counts. The first restaurant in Louisiana certified by the Green Restaurant Association, Carmo is an oasis of fresh, local ingredients, with an emphasis on vegetarian and vegan fare, along with sustainable seafood and other options for omnivores. Simply put, Carmo makes healthy delicious. Just ask Woody Harrelson. The notoriously health-conscious actor won't eat anything but raw food from Carmo when he's in town on a shoot.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Great location, fresh menu, vegan options and cocktails add up to a restaurant that's good for you.

Beth's expert tip: Ask about Carmo's array of tropical juices from Brazil.

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Meet Beth D'Addono

Beth D'Addono is a food and travel writer obsessed with flavor, exploring cultures, street music and the city of New Orleans.

Beth writes about New Orleans and other destinations for outlets...  More About Beth

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