The 16 Best Healthy Restaurants in Chicago
Sure, we aspire to eat healthier. But we’ll settle for healthyish. These 16 restaurants occupy that hard-to-define sweet spot between good for you and just plain good.
Note: All of these restaurants are currently open for pick-up or delivery.
If Beatrix were a person, she’d be someone we’d want to have lunch with all the time… at one of her namesake restaurants, of course. The laid-back, friendly spot serves tasty dishes that focus on fresh produce, lean proteins and the occasional giant chocolate-chip cookie. Beatrix just gets us.
Multiple locations; beatrixrestaurants.com
2. TRUE FOOD KITCHEN
We could eat every meal at True Food and never get bored (or bloated). From ancient grain bowls to grass-fed steak tacos to chicken sausage pizza (yes, pizza), the menu includes all of our favorites but with an emphasis on plant-based, anti-inflammatory ingredients.
1 W. Erie St.; truefoodkitchen.com
3. HEALTHY SUBSTANCE VEGAN RESTAURANT
The head chef at Healthy Substance Vegan Restaurant puts a plant-based spin on her favorite dishes from her hometown of Guadalajara. Choose from six varieties of tamales—a house specialty that’s also gluten-free—and pair them with a freshly squeezed glass of carrot juice, or just go ahead and swan dive into a plate of chilaquiles topped with house-made vegan cheese.
6852 W Archer Ave.; healthysubstance.com
4. LEFT COAST
Think of Left Coast as a little slice of California in Chicago. It’s not just the grain bowls and salads (piled high with ingredients like avocado, kale and kimchi), it’s the cold-pressed juices and nutrient-packed smoothies that complete the vibe. (Humming that Mamas and the Papas song: optional.)
Multiple locations; leftcoastfood.com
5. LYFE KITCHEN
Whether it’s gluten, dairy or meat, these days it seems like everyone’s diets are free of something. Lyfe Kitchen accommodates all. Gluten-free and vegan dishes like the buffalo cauliflower tacos are clearly labeled, and substitutions are more than OK. And don’t forget to treat yourself to a DIY smoothie kit while you’re adding items to your cart.
Multiple locations; lyfekitchen.com
6. BRIGHTWOK KITCHEN
Think of this homegrown chain as the Sweetgreen for Asian-inspired food. The menu has a few rotating items, such as the sweet umami mushroom bowl with steak and teriyaki noodles, but you’re free to customize your own meal with grains, proteins, veggies and sauces. We hope they keep expanding.
Multiple locations; brightwok.com
7. SUMMER HOUSE SANTA MONICA
When we think of the word healthyish, a picture of avocado toast comes to mind—specifically the version dished out at this Lincoln Park favorite. Served on a soft, chewy homemade English muffin with scallion mascarpone and poached eggs, it’s the perfect intersection of decadent and wholesome.
1954 N. Halsted St.; summerhousesm.com
8. PROTEIN BAR & KITCHEN
Way back in 2008, Protein Bar basically invented the healthyish restaurant genre. The fast-casual chain has been keeping busy Chicagoans satisfied ever since with its fast, customizable and, yes, protein-packed smoothies, wraps and salads.
Multiple locations; theproteinbar.com
9. NATIVE FOODS
Fun fact: this national vegan chain is headquartered right here in Chicago. Swing by the Loop, Wicker Park, Hyde Park, or Lincoln Park location for a cauliflower chickpea shawarma bowl, taco salad (made with plant-based taco “meat”), and a cold-pressed green juice.
Multiple locations; nativefoods.com
This Mediterranean-inspired spot focuses on small plates, which you can enjoy at home or on the heated patio. Treat yourself to a spread of charred eggplant with house-made yogurt drizzled with olive oil, green falafel with beet tzatziki, or salmon kebabs—or all of the above! Ema’s focus on small plates makes it easy (and feasible) to order multiple plates that strike your fancy.
74 W Illinois St.; emachicago.com
11. BLUE DOOR FARM STAND/BLUE DOOR KITCHEN & GARDEN
Blue Door Kitchen & Farm Stand is home to our platonic ideal of a salad. Imagine shaved brussels sprouts and kale tossed with sliced Marcona almonds, fluffy Parmesan, crumbled bacon, and a maple-tahini dressing—can you even? Salad stanning aside, this Lincoln Park spot is home to other tasty, healthyish treats, such as butternut squash soup and gnocchi with seasonal vegetables.
2010 N Halsted St. or 52 W Elm St.; bluedoorkitchenchicago.com
12. REALGOOD STUFF CO.
Organic and locally sourced ingredients go into everything at Realgood Stuff Co., from the Publican Quality Bread and Mighty Vine produce on the Tomato Pesto Toast, to the Slagel Farms bacon in the breakfast taco. Don’t sleep on the menu of juices and smoothies, either, whose names are simply too good to miss (Juice Springsteen, anyone?)
Multiple locations; realgoodstuffco.com
13. INDIE CAFE
It’s hard to imagine a more healthyish meal than a platter of protein-packed sushi, and Indie Cafe in Edgewater makes some of the best. Try the Summer Passion roll with spicy tuna, cucumber, salmon, mango, and avocado, or opt for a skewer from the robata grill, such as eggplant marinated in teriyaki sauce and ichimi pepper.
5951 N. Broadway; indiecafe.us
14. LULA CAFE
Lula Cafe’s menu is constantly evolving with the season, but one thing always stays the same: its connection to local and regional suppliers. Check their site to see what’s on the menu for this week’s farm dinner; recent offerings have included a crunchy green salad with apple chips and beef stroganoff with celery root house-made fusilli. And, hey, if a bottle of Reverse Negronis falls into your cart while you’re at it, all the better—it’s a delicious and low-ABV cocktail.
2537 N Kedzie Blvd.; lulacafe.com
Chicago is still a relatively new feather in Sweetgreen’s cap, which makes the presence of this beloved national chain feel exciting. Despite its nation1al reach, Sweetgreen’s Chicago locations source their produce from nearby farms for dishes such as kale Caesar salad, hot honey chicken with sweet potatoes and quinoa, plus rosemary focaccia from a local bakery.
Multiple locations; sweetgreen.com
This beloved Wicker Park spot dishes out vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian comfort food. Kick off your morning with an omelet with pumpkin pesto and kale from the extensive breakfast menu, or circle back later for a Green Meanie sandwich with avocado, vegan or goat cheese, spinach, tomato, and sprouts. Whatever you do, don’t miss the oatmeal cream pies.
2311 W North Ave.; handlebarchicago.com