Just because you made a resolution to rid yourself of those holiday pounds off doesn’t mean you can’t have fun when eating out. From the crunch of kimchi-topped sweet potato fries with cashew-chipotle drizzle to the panache of whole-roasted fish presented tableside, there’s a lot more than salad and carrot sticks to enliven any January day with these restaurants embracing healthy eating trends to help you stick to your delicious dining New Year resolutions.
Organic Grill, New York, New York
Business starts booming at the Organic Grill on New Year’s Day. “I think everyone is trying to start their resolutions off right,” jokes owner Julia Chebotar of her family-owned mostly vegan, organic restaurant in East Village. It’s easy to see why if you check out this season’s brunch menu, featuring dishes enticing enough to turn any carnivore’s head (or appetite) — think loaded kimchi sweet-potato fries with cashew chipotle drizzle, cabbage, scallion, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, sriracha, and vegan or dairy cheese. Chebotar says she likes to make the January menu fun for those new to a “clean” lifestyle, and anything that features greens like kale or spinach is a big seller, especially the new sweet green + kale frittata. Organic Grill also features an extensive lineup of veggie burgers, organic wild salmon and tilapia, juice cleanses, and raw foods. Make a reservation at Organic Grill.
Marin Restaurant & Bar, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Chef Mike Rankun busts the bluster of Minnesota with California-themed cuisine using local produce. Ham, fig, and blue cheese flatbread on a whole-wheat crust, jerk-spiced pork chops with mashed sweet potatoes, or grass-fed beef tenderloin with potato puree, spinach, and balsamic Cipollini onions may sound like heartier fare, but those counting calories don’t have to fear the pitfalls of dining out — each item on the menu is presented with its nutritional content. Rankun spotlights both small and large plates, and cuts calories and fat year-round by swapping out butter for olive oil and using starchy liquid from ears of corn in lieu of heavy cream to thicken soups. Make a reservation at Marin Restaurant & Bar.
Puritan & Company, Boston, Massachusetts
It should come as no surprise that Boston chef Will Gilson, whose family owns the Herb Lyceum garden and greenhouse in nearby Groton, puts the focus on fresh in January. Puritan & Company will supplement its normal Sunday brunch menu with BEATNIK juices, a collaboration between father David and son, for everything from energy boosting to detoxifying, cleansing, or just reviving after a night of partying. For those who’ve toasted 2016 with a bit too much spirit, pick hangover cure Beet the Blues, made with beets, blueberries, lemon, and apple and packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium, and fiber. Make a reservation at Puritan & Company.
Blowfish Sushi, San Francisco, California
Sushi is always a top choice for the health-conscious year-round, but January is a great time to try something new, says Blowfish Sushi’s Brigid Kealy. One of her favorite dishes — which features no rice — is great for those counting carbs: Tokyo Ceviche. The classic Japanese sunomono (cucumber salad) is topped with fresh crab, shrimp, tuna, and octopus, and then crowned with a mango, grapefruit, and cucumber sorbet made by a local creamery. By highlighting fresh local produce from California farms, Kealy says sushi can be a surprising way to embrace vegetarian options, like miso-marinated eggplant nigiri to potrero veggie roll with two types of tofu, carrot, and asparagus. Make a reservation at Blowfish Sushi.
SOL Cocina, Scottsdale, Arizona
All preconceptions of overfilled burritos and gooey nachos can be dropped at the door at SOL Cocina, where James Beard-nominated executive chef Deborah Schneider — inspired by her trips just south of Arizona’s borders — maintains a healthy menu of entrees that are wood-grilled or braised in their own juices, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-friendly dishes, beans prepared without fat or oils, and 34 fat-free salsas made from fresh fruits and vegetables. Dressings are created with fresh juices and thickened with ticker-friendly avocado in lieu of eggs or mayonnaise. New seasonal menu additions include tacos (roasted squash or grilled shrimp agave), although, for traditionalists, Schneider says her baked chile relleno (traditionally filled with cheese and fried) feels indulgent without having to make several trips to the gym. Other resolution-friendly hits are the Hot & Raw Ceviche, with fresh citrus, habanero chiles, avocado, and cucumber served with sweet potato and red beet chips. Make a reservation at SOL Cocina.
Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar, Boston, Massachusetts
What chef Michael Schlow is eating at home these days isn’t much different than what he’s offering diners across the U.S. from Cavatina in Los Angeles to any of his seven restaurants across the Eastern Seaboard. While the James Beard Award-winner is mostly focusing on the small plates at new Boston hot spot Doretta, showcasing heart-healthy Greek plates with lots of beans, olive oils, and seafood, one of Schlow’s signatures is adding zing to vegetables that were formerly overlooked as ho-hum side dishes. Think buffalo-seasoned cauliflower besides a roaring fireplace at Pine in Hanover, New Hampshire, roasted cauliflower with chipotle at Tico in Washington, D.C. (with a second location in Boston), and cauliflower with jalapeno at Doretta. There, “Whole roasted fish doesn’t make you feel like you’ve indulged, but its presentation is still celebratory,” he said. This time of year, Schlow prefers and prepares filling soups, especially I. “It’s a beautiful Aegean seafood stew, with a flavorful tomato broth, herbs, olive oil, and whatever seafood you have on hand — mussels, scallops, shrimp, white fish,” he said. “It’s the kind of dish you have in the dead of winter when it’s freezing outside and you feel full and comforted but you haven’t indulged.” (Pro tip: It’s only on the lunch menu, but you can order for dinner upon request.) Make a reservation at Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar.
Temple Orange, Palm Beach, Florida
A healthy lifestyle is about much more than working out and the steam room; clean cuisine is an integral part of the experience at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, which hosts a special Mini Clean Cuisine Retreat on January 29. Dinner will be served by resort’s restaurant Temple Orange, so named because “many of our guests think of their body as a ‘temple’,” said chef Armando Galeas. “On vacation or out locally for a special meal, Eau guests are looking for dining experiences to not only nourish their body but also feed their soul.” That’s where he comes in with Mediterranean-inspired meals featuring the best of local produce, like Florida red snapper served with beans and charred leeks, Atlantic swordfish, and a housemade mezze board with hummus, roasted eggplant dip, and olives. Restaurant guests can enjoy the same specialties on Galeas’s seasonal menu, served with soul-stirring views of the Atlantic. Make a reservation at Temple Orange.
Committee, Boston, Massachusetts
Northern Greece and Crete meet in Boston at Committee, where cooking show host and cookbook author Diane Kochilas lends her wisdom to those looking to add more superfoods to their diets. One of the highlights is tabbouleh with pomegranates and nuts, featuring fiber-rich bulgur and walnuts, antioxidant-packed pomegranates, and immune-system boosting garlic, one of the tenets of cuisine on Ikaria — the Greek island of longevity where it’s joked that the people “forget to die.” It’s not certain whether superfoods build smarts in addition to health, but both Harvard and Yale have consulted Kochilas to develop healthy Greek menu options for their Ivy League ranks. Make a reservation at Committee.
Foragers City Table, New York, New York
Diners are truly eating preservative-free at Foragers City Table, the restaurant annex to the popular gourmet grocery store where everything is sourced from their Hudson Valley garden or private-label producers in Italy (suppliers are listed on the back of each menu). The menu changes frequently, but this season’s stars include salmon with red quinoa, creamed kale, and Cipollini onions, king crab salad with mint, snow peas, and caviar, and grilled corn soup with caviar and crème fraîche. Make a reservation at Forager’s City Table.
Yayla Bistro, Arlington, Virginia
In Turkish culture, the word “yayla” stands for all that is natural, fresh, and pure, and that’s reflected in the Mediterranean menu at Yayla Bistro, says Karen Dogan. Everything at the family-owned restaurant is made from scratch (not canned or frozen) by Turkish cooks, and they take pride in introducing Americans to new dishes like imam bayildi, just one of the many eggplant specialties. The roasted half aubergine is topped with sautéed onions, peppers, garlic, and olive oil, and packed with fiber, iron, and calcium. Many other plates feature vegetarian options too, including the mezze (small plates), such as the Turkish version of dolmas, or stuffed grape leaves, and for January, sliced beets and orange wedges over a bed of mashed potatoes topped with red onion and walnuts, as well as lemon rice soup. Most items are prepared using heart-healthy olive oil. Make a reservation at Yayla Bistro.
Carley Thornell is a travel writer whose experiences eating street food in Japan, English peas in the UK, free-range steak in Argentina, and Brussels sprouts at Estragon tapas in her hometown of Boston have provided unforgettable culinary inspiration.