We did the research—here are our top picks for the best restaurants for eating clean. Have you tried them?
Thanks to a new crop of all-vegan restaurants, health-conscious sandwich shops, and more, eating clean while dining out is no longer the stressful task it used to be. Today, many restaurants are deeply committed to whole, natural foods and responsible ingredient sourcing. Below, we’ve highlighted ten restaurants that demonstrate clean eating principles, whether it’s eliminating artificial and processed ingredients or incorporating local, organic ingredients. When visiting any restaurant, research menus, ingredient lists, and nutrition information in advance when possible—doing so will help you make the best clean eating choices, no matter what.
When it comes to greater ingredient transparency and healthier food options, Panera has always been well ahead of the curve. In 2015, Panera unveiled the No No List, which included more than 150 artificial ingredients the company pledged to banish from its menus by the end of 2016. From eliminating caramel color previously found in their balsamic vinaigrette to removing artificial additives in their bacon, Panera continues to show its commitment to cleaner ingredient sourcing.
CLEAN PICK: Ancient Grain and Arugula Salad with Chicken (half)
Cal: 200, Fat: 7.0g, Sat Fat: 1.5g, Sodium: 150mg, Sugar: 10g, Protein: 12g
Jason’s Deli removed high fructose corn syrup, MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), and trans-fats from its menu in 2008, and has continued to commit to cleaner ingredients—the menu has been free of both artificial colors and flavors since 2015. Jason’s Deli’s salad bar, which includes fresh veggies such as broccoli florets, bell peppers, mushrooms, beets, and more, makes building a healthy meal easy. We love the option to drizzle your salad with olive oil and red wine vinegar, too.
CLEAN PICK: Garden Fresh Salad Bar. Try this combo—mixed greens, roasted black beans and corn, grape tomatoes, olive oil, and red wine vinegar + 1 bag of organic blue corn tortilla chips
Cal: 415, Fat: 27..0g, Sat Fat: 2.5g, Sodium: 215mg, Sugars: 4.0g, Protein: 5.0g
This Washington, D.C.-based fast casual restaurant churns out high-quality salads using regionally-sourced and seasonal ingredients. The menu, which changes fives times each year to ensure freshness, varies by region and incorporates organic ingredients whenever possible. Every Sweetgreen also displays a list of farmers and growers who supply the ingredients specific to each location. The company is also environmentally conscious, offering organic steelhead trout as a sustainable alternative to salmon.
CLEAN PICK: Rad Thai Salad—organic arugula, organic mesclun, bean sprouts, shredded cabbage, spicy sunflower seeds, organic carrots, cucumbers, basil, citrus shrimp, spicy cashew dressing
Cal: 280, Fat: 25g, Sat Fat: 2.0g, Sodium: 850mg, Sugars: 6.0g, Protein: 25g
Pret A Manger
Pret A Manger has made its name for its selection of prepared crusty baguette sandwiches and fresh salads made daily (they donate any end-of-day leftovers to food banks), but where this popular, London-based chain really shines is in the breakfast department. Organic coffee (with organic milk), fresh fruit, oatmeal, muesli, Greek yogurt, cage-free eggs, and more make choosing a hearty cleaner breakfast a piece of cake. The company is also committed to improving animal welfare and has pledged to implement more humane processing methods for chicken by 2024.
CLEAN PICK: Breakfast Egg & Quinoa Pot—hard-boiled egg, avocado, grape tomatoes, arugula, and quinoa
Cal: 240, Fat: 14g, Sat Fat: 2.5g, Sodium: 210mg, Sugars: 2.0g, Protein: 9.0g
rōti Modern Mediterranean
Staples of the Mediterranean Diet such as whole grains, vegetables, and lean proteins inspire the menu at rōti, a Chicago-based fast casual restaurant. From organic chickpeas for hummus to non-GMO rice to sustainably-farmed salmon from True North Seafood, rōti is committed to smart ingredient sourcing. With plenty of nutritious ingredient combinations for salads, rice bowls, wraps, and pita sandwiches, building a healthy meal at rōti is easy.
CLEAN PICK: Mixed Green Salad with Falafel, Red Cabbage Slaw, and Dill, Yogurt, Cucumber Sauce
Cal: 324, Fat: 15.5g, Sat Fat: 2.5g, Sodium: 690mg, Sugars: 7.0g, Protein: 10g
Le Pain Quotidien
This Brussels-based bakery and restaurant, with numerous locations in Europe and the United States, specializes in tartines (open-faced sandwiches), whole-grain salads, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, oatmeal, veggie frittatas, and more. In particular, we commend Le Pain Quotidien’s bread, which uses organic ingredients and is baked in-house daily without preservatives. The restaurant opts for organic whenever possible and has plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
CLEAN PICK: Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai—chicken, red peppers, cabbage, arugula, toasted cashews, cilantro and sesame-cashew dressing—310 calories*
*Le Pain Quotidien does not publish full nutrition on their website.
We applaud the West Coast-based fast casual chain for its 100% vegan menu. With loads of plant-based offerings like burgers using Beyond Meat patties, whole grain bowls, tacos, salads, and plenty of veggie-centric sides, Veggie Grill is a perfect choice for customers looking to eat less meat.
CLEAN PICK: BLTA Sandwich—smokey tempeh bacon, sliced tomatoes, avocado, cilantro pesto tossed arugula, aioli mayo, grilled sourdough
Cal: 520, Fat: 22.0g, Sat Fat: 3.5g, Sodium: 730mg, Sugars: 5.0g, Protein: 17.0g
A team of former McDonald’s top executives are the masterminds behind LYFE Kitchen, a fast-casual restaurant that prides itself on responsibly-sourced ingredients and veggie-packed, lower-calorie dishes. According to the company, all beef is grass-fed, and white flour, granulated sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and GMOs are banned across the menu. LYFE Kitchen’s menu also boasts sustainably-farmed salmon and line-caught wahoo, which earned a “best choice” rating from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program.
CLEAN PICK: Line-Caught Wahoo with Arugula Salad
Cal: 170, Fat: 7.0g, Sat Fat: 1.0g, Sodium: 464mg, Sugars: 1.0g, Protein: 21.0g
With humble beginnings as a hot dog cart in New York’s Madison Square Park, Shake Shack has garnered a cult following across the country for its “cleaner” approach to traditional fast food. Thanks to superior ingredient sourcing, such as cage-free chicken, a proprietary blend of hormone- and antibiotic-free ground beef from Pat LaFrieda, and nitrate-free bacon from Niman Ranch, Shake Shack’s following continues to grow. To minimize calories, fat, and sodium, we suggest sticking with simpler items on the menu, such as the single hamburger and the flat-top dogs.
CLEAN PICK: Shake Shack Chicken Dog
Cal: 320, Fat: 11g, Sat Fat: 3.0g, Sodium: 970mg, Sugars: 9.0g, Protein: 20.0g
Known for its cold-pressed juices made from fresh fruits and vegetables, Juice Press also offers a selection of smoothies and nutrient-dense salads, soups, and healthy breakfasts. With 70 locations along the East Coast and West Coast, the vegan-friendly chain even offers its own Clean Eating Plan, where customers can choose between a three or five day supply of juices, snacks, and meals. According to Juice Press, 100% of its products are USDA certified organic and Kosher. If you’re looking to minimize sugars, Juice Press’ veggie-based juices are a smart choice.
CLEAN PICK: Simple Green Juice—Cucumber, Celery, Lemon, and Kale
Cal: 120, Fat: 0.0g, Sat Fat: 0.0g, Sodium: 200mg, Sugars: 6.0g, Protein: 4.0g