It’s halfway through January, and all of that fiery enthusiasm you had to finally start getting your diet in order and exercise more? It’s fading. Those homemade healthy meals of steamed broccoli and salmon get repetitive really quickly. And trying to eat clean often means forgoing dining experiences with your pals. But there’s no need to give up on your goals or become a hermit—here’s where you can eat out in ATL and not break the caloric bank.
True Food Kitchen
Mall chains aren’t normally known for having the healthiest options, but True Food’s variety and execution are unrivaled in Atlanta. Founder Dr. Andrew Weil’s wellness-based menu is completely balanced with options for every person whether you want a pizza or a vegan lunch. Service is quick, and I’ve never had a bad meal here. One of my favorite dishes is the crudites appetizer, which features a variety of crunchy vegetables like baby cucumbers and watermelon radishes, served on a bed of ice and accompanied with a herb-filled yogurt dipping sauce and a black olive-based dip. (You can substitute hummus if you’d prefer.) Kale salad, which comes with your choice of grilled chicken, salmon, tofu, or shrimp, is just one of many salad options on the menu, but those seeking something warm can order the teriyaki grain bowl, which features your choice of protein and a mix of vegetables including bok choy, broccoli, and avocado, served on top of brown rice and quinoa. Lenox Square, 3393 Peachtree Road Northeast, 404-481-2980
Fruit and veggies are the center focus of this cool and colorful pan-Latin Old Fourth Ward staple, which opened in 2006. Owner Myrna Perez has a penchant for dressing up in fun costumes such as her “fruitologist” scrubs or a Carmen Miranda-inspired get-up with loads of fruit and vegetables atop her head. Of her “sanduches” (hot grilled sandwiches), my favorite is the “Just Veggin”—a light mix of Havarti cheese pressed with avocado and alfalfa sprouts on sweet bread. Add a bowl of Perez’s soup of the day (the yucca soup with worth a try) for a healthy lunch packed with veggies. If you want something sweet, Lottafrutta serves tall cups of fruit like watermelon, honeydew, and coconut topped with coconut cream, or pick up a homemade paletas (ice pops) in flavors like coconut and passion fruit. 590 Auburn Avenue Northeast, 404-588-0857
Kale Me Crazy
What started as a healthy juice and smoothie spot has morphed into a full-on (franchised) dining experience where you can get a pre- or post-workout meal full of color and superfoods. Cold press juices and complex smoothies abound, but I like grabbing a to-go order of kale salad with dried cranberries, serrano peppers, spinach, cilantro, carrots, crushed peanuts, hemp seeds, quinoa, cabbage, scallions, and mint, or a veggie-packed turkey wrap sandwich with a green juice on the side. At breakfast, the deluxe acai bowl is a powerful way to start your day with purple acai topped with banana, granola, chia seeds, hemp seeds, goji berries, sliced almonds, blueberries, and raw honey. Kale me Crazy also offers cleanses if that’s your thing. And they offer online ordering for pick-up, which is helpful since the fresh-made orders require a short wait. 300 North Highland Avenue, 404-600-5048, and eight other locations.
For those on Weight Watchers or counting calories on MyFitnessPal, Souper Jenny provides WW points and calorie information for her many soups, salads, and sandwiches at her locations, including her new outpost at the Atlanta History Center. Jenny’s “Dad’s Turkey Chili” is a great option for when you crave a hardy lunch without the extra calories you’ll find in beef chili. The menu changes daily, but there is always some sort of sandwich like grilled artichoke with spring mix, tomato, and white bean hummus spread. Finding a seat can get dicey around lunch, so arrive early or plan to get take-out. 130 West Paces Ferry Road Northwest, 404-295-6761, and three other locations
Tassili’s Raw Reality
Tassil’s serves up raw vegan dishes prepared to order in this small West End cafe with a big fanbase. Everything on the menu is raw, from pad thai made with rice noodles, cilantro, peanuts, and ginger peanut dressing, to curried plantains. I normally go for a sampler plate of raw specialties such as the okra, the kale (available in different levels of spiciness), and the black love stew, made with black rice. You can also order a football-sized South of The Border Wrawp” (get it?), a coconut tortilla filled with the restaurant’s popular spicy kale, black eyed pea hummus, Moroccan couscous, and avocado. Service is friendly and they take their time preparing the food, so call in your order or settle in for a little meal that will make you feel like you did something good for your body, even if you don’t subscribe to the benefits of eating raw all of the time. 1059 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard, 404-343-6126