Staying true to your Keto diet doesn’t mean you have to avoid eating out. Sharing a meal is one of the most primitive social rituals that we have, dating back through millions of years. This kind of social interaction at a restaurant is integral to the fabric of your modern relationships. This is where friendships are deepened, secrets are shared, and business alliances are formed. Restaurants offer ambiance, excitement, and exposure to different cuisines.
Friends and family can join around a restaurant table that’s convenient for everyone. Restaurant menus offer a variety of plates to suit every palate. No one has to cook or clean up afterward. Everyone is free to relax and enjoy the conversation. No one has to serve the table or refill drinks. This is just too good to pass up — and you don’t have to. So forget the notion that you have to excuse yourself from dinner invitations. Heck, with these tips on eating out and staying on Keto, you can even join your friends for drinks and apps!
Best Casual Restaurants for Keto Dieters
The easiest way to eat out on Keto is to dine at restaurants that support the Keto plan. That way you’ll know when you get there that there will be Keto-appropriate food items to choose from. Keto-friendly restaurants don’t always brand themselves as Keto restaurants, though. Instead, they offer certain items on the menu that fit with your dietary wishes. Since it can be tricky to find the best restaurants for Keto dieters, we’ve rounded up a few that you’ll be able to find almost anywhere throughout the country.
Yes, that’s right, America’s institution for all things breakfast also happens to serve Keto-friendly dishes in spades. Breakfast is served all day. That means you can fill up on eggs and bacon any time of day or night. Bob Evans is also always happy to make substitutions. So instead of a burger on a bun, you can get your burger wrapped in lettuce leaves. Lettuce-wrapped burgers and sandwiches are also an option at many other restaurants.
Another Keto-friendly restaurant is Chipotle. Turn any bowl into a Keto dish by substituting the rice for salad. Ask for a chicken or carnitas salad with your choices of avocado, sour cream, fajita vegetables, pico, salsa and/or jack cheese. Chipotle offers unsweetened ice tea, so you don’t have to necessarily drink water with your meal.
When you’re on the go or you have hungry kids with you, try In-N-Out Burger for a Keto-friendly burger. Order a Flying Dutchman off the “secret menu.” The Flying Dutchman consists of two beef patties sandwiching melted cheese: no buns and no worries about wrecking your Keto diet!
Their burgers can also be ordered “animal and protein style” which includes a lettuce-wrapped meat patty, optional cheese, and onions, pickles, tomatoes and spicy pickled peppers.
Best Fine Dining Restaurants for Keto Dieters
When you’re in the mood for some fine dining but you don’t want to break your Keto diet, you’re in luck. Fine restaurants are more likely to cater to your dietary needs than less formal options. Fine restaurants are also more likely to have set menu items that accommodate the needs of Keto dieters. Here are a few, selected from around the country.
Juliette Kitchen & Bar, Newport Beach, California
This exquisite restaurant melds casual with sophisticated dining options. You’ll have no trouble finding Keto-friendly plates here. Start your meal with grilled cauliflower and roasted almonds. One entree to try is the seafood stew with black mussels, grilled prawns, baby turnips, leeks and cioppino broth. Substitute the grilled bread with a side salad or grilled non-starchy vegetables.
The Capital Grille, Miami, Florida and locations around the country
Don’t worry, you can satisfy yourself at The Capital Grille and never think twice about your Keto diet. Begin with an appetizer of oysters on the half shell or steak tartare. Enjoy a pear and gorgonzola salad with toasted walnuts while you await your entrée. Choose from an entrée of porcini rubbed rib eye steak with aged balsamic vinegar, bone-in Wagyu steak or roasted rack of lamb with mint gremolata sauce. Pair the entrée with a side of sautéed spinach or grilled lemon asparagus. Visiting for drinks and apps with a prospective client? Cocktail plates include garlic shrimp, tuna tartare with avocado and mango and prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella with tomato.
The Palm, Boston, Massachusetts and select locations
White tablecloths, fully stocked bar and floor-to-ceiling windows mark this fine dining restaurant as one of the premier locations in Boston. Specializing in meat dishes, there’s certainly something to whet your Keto appetite here. Start with either the chicken spring rolls with jicama, scallions and carrots or the sesame-crusted Ahi tuna. Move to the Chilean sea bass with shaved fennel and asparagus salad for the main course or grass-fed filet mignon with black truffle butter.
Frequently Asked Questions About Staying Social on Keto
How can I find Keto-friendly restaurants near me?
There are lots of bloggers and other Keto-supportive sites that offer lists of Keto restaurants. Just conduct a search for “Keto restaurants near me.” Here are some that we’ve found:
How can I get Keto-friendly dishes in a “regular” restaurant?
Most restaurants are happy to offer substitutions at their customers’ requests. Just be upfront with your server and explain why you need the substitution if they hesitate. Most servers these days will know all about the Keto diet simply because it’s so popular and prevalent. You certainly won’t be the first customer asking for Keto-friendly substitutions!
How Can I be Sure a Dish Is Keto-Friendly?
Question everything, especially if you decide to order the chef’s specialty. Ask about the ingredients in sauces, in particular. Restaurants are famous for adding sugar to everything they can get away with! If the server can’t answer your question, either get them to ask the chef or choose an option you can have more control over, like sauce on the side. Ordering grilled protein with salt and pepper, steamed veggies, and a salad with olive oil, vinegar, and avocado makes an easy combination to order at most restaurants, even if you have to order it a-la-carte.
What Can I Drink at Restaurants on a Keto Diet?
You have several options. You can plain or sparkling water — not tonic water — with lemon or lime, unsweetened tea, iced coffee, or regular coffee. If you crave an alcoholic drink you could indulge in dry wine, vodka, whiskey, gin and some other hard liquors. Make sure you don’t mix them with anything other than plain water, sparkling or soda water. Be aware that alcohol typically has an enhanced effect during a keto diet. Keep your intake to one alcoholic drink after a keto meal to remain in ketosis.
It’s time to get dressed and go out and socialize with your friends and family again. Don’t let your desire for good health clash with your desire for socialization. These ideas for staying social on Keto should have you out and about in no time, enjoying the fare at your favorite fast food and fancy restaurants. What are you waiting for? Get dressed!
Written by Kathleen Simmons
Kathleen Simmons holds a Master's Level Nutrition and Wellness Certification from the American Fitness Professionals & Associates. She is a firm advocate of the Keto diet lifestyle, both personally and in her professional life.