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Sometimes, I allow myself to splurge when I’m traveling, but most of the time, I keep it low-carb. Not only have I lost weight, but keto has been great for my anxiety. What’s a girl to do, therefore, on date night or when she needs a quick bite to eat? As it turns out, there are plenty of keto-friendly restaurants.
Really, once you learn what to look for on the menu, most places will have *something* for you to eat, even if it’s not a full meal. In the United States, many restaurants have traditional chicken wings as an appetizer. It’s the perfect entreé for someone eating a low carb high fat diet.
Best Types of Keto-Friendly Restaurants
As mentioned, there are few places you’ll go that won’t have something keto-friendly on the menu. There are, however, some restaurants that are better choices overall. Here’s a quick list:
- Steakhouses – At Longhorn Steakhouse, Outback, or similar restaurants, just order a steak with a side of broccoli. Ask them not to bring the free bread to the table, and skip the carb-filled sides (no mashed potatoes or fries!).
- Mexican restaurants – Order the fajitas, but ask them not to bring the tortilla shells (or chips). You’ll have a delicious plate of meat and veggies to fill you up!
- Pancake houses – No, you won’t be ordering the pancakes or waffles at IHOP or Denny’s. You can, however enjoy a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs (and sausage!). Just avoid the hash browns and/or home fries.
- Burger joints – A great keto-friendly restaurant is the burger joint. You can easily order a lettuce-wrapped or bunless burger and enjoy with toppings such as onions, pickles, and more. Avoid the sugary ketchup but pile on the cheese and bacon!
- Deli counters – Feast on a yummy deli meat sandwich wrapped in lettuce. The demand is growing for this, so they probably won’t look at you funny when you order!
There’s a WingStop located very close to our Orangetheory Fitness studio. If we did a midday workout, this is where we’d grab lunch. Neither of us had ever had it before and we were pleasantly surprised. The wings are good quality, the right size and super crispy. Just the way I like them!
To keep it low carb, avoid anything with breading (boneless wings or tenders, for example) or any of the sweet sauces. I always stick to the original buffalo sauce, but you could also do Parmesan garlic or salt and pepper without disrupting your keto macros.
Wings are the perfect keto food because they are naturally low in carbs and high in fat. It’s one of my go-to foods, so we eat a LOT of fried chicken wings while still seeing great results. Just be sure to not order the combo which includes fries and a drink (bring your own water!).
The first time I ordered a bunless burger at Five Guys, I was a little shy about it. To my surprise, the cashier knew exactly what I wanted since the three orders ahead of me had asked for the same! Confidence boosted! Five Guys is one of the most perfect keto-friendly restaurants!
You could get your burger lettuce-wrapped but I prefer to ask for a “bowl.” They put the patties in an aluminum tin and add whatever toppings you want. My favorites are onions, pickles, cheese, mayo, mustard and, of course, BACON! Sometimes, I add a slice of tomato if I’ve got enough carbs left for the day.
Grab a knife and fork, bring your own low sugar ketchup (if you want) and ask for a cup for water. Easy peasy and oh so delicious. I always get a triple burger and I’m completely satisfied. Who needs fries?
Josh and I tend to go to TGI Friday’s for our Wednesday night dates because we know the crew and like the menu. We can customize our orders and leave happy without feeling like one of us had to sacrifice.
Wings are a good option here as long as you don’t do boneless since those are breaded. Get some celery or a salad on the side and you’re all set! Also, if you’re a Stripes member, you’ll want to skip the free chips and salsa. Sorry!
If you’re craving a burger, ask for it “Greenstyle.” It will come wrapped in lettuce and, lemme tell you, it tastes perfect! It’s delicious. Get a bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, onions and pickles and swap the fries for a side salad. Delicious and guilt-free!
Of course, you could always get a nice juicy steak. When I order one, I ask for extra butter on top and a side of lemon butter broccoli (which is super tasty!). It tastes super fresh and really balances out the heaviness of that bit slab of meat.
I’ve loved Qdoba (not Chipotle) for years so it was an adjustment when I realized that I’d need to ditch the rice, beans and tortilla wraps if I wanted to keep my carb count down. What would I eat there? Would this even be worth it anymore? Fortunately, the answer was yes, yes it’s worth it. In fact, for a while, we ate Qdoba weekly. It’s now among my favorite keto-friendly restaurants!
You’ll have to compare the carb counts of the meats but I always stick to the shredded beef or pulled pork. Then, I have them pile on the cheese, sour cream, guacamole, a little salsa and lettuce. When they had chimichurri sauce, I added some of that too.
Y’all, you won’t feel deprived. I find if I let it sit covered for 10 minutes or so, it tastes even better. This meal is better for those days when you are okay with going a little over your carb budget but, once in a while, this is a good option.
Obviously, if you’re going to a sandwich shop, you’ll need to skip the bread but, fortunately, Jimmy John’s offers an Unwich which, simply put, is a deli meat sandwich wrapped in lettuce.
My oldest daughter worked for JJ’s years ago and I asked her for tips since I was worried this was going to be gross, unsatisfying and messy. She assured me that it would be great and, really, it was.
Many JJ’s have drive-thrus and you can easily order whatever sandwich you want (I do the Club LuLu) as an Unwich but be careful about the sauces and even the mayo. In fact, take your own since theirs often contains sugar. Don’t forget to add extra bacon!
Okay, McDonald’s isn’t the greatest of keto-friendly restaurants. In a pinch, though, you can put together some breakfast items to make a decent meal. When my daughter had her wisdom teeth out, I was starving as I drove her home but there was no way I could leave her, drugged and delirious, in her car. I saw McDonald’s and immediately hit the drive-thru.
I’ll be honest — for a millisecond I was tempted to get my old order but, instead, I opted for scrambled eggs, a sausage patty and a side of bacon. It was so cheap and easy, plus it filled me up for hours. Score!
Every day, I discover new ways to tweak the offerings at almost any restaurant to be a little more keto-friendly. For now, these are my go-to staples. Truth be told, though, that making meals at home is a lot more satisfying, and I can rest assured knowing there aren’t any hidden carbs. It’s good knowing that there are some keto-friendly restaurant options for those times when we need a break, though!