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14 Healthy Restaurant Dishes That Won't Make You Hate Life

And only one of them has kale

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Cebiche
| La Mar

With all the raw vegetable salads, bland oatmeals, and poorly seasoned dishes that are so often synonymous with clean eating, keeping your lean New Year's diet resolutions can seem like a punishment. But healthy food doesn't have to scream deprivation.

More and more chefs around San Francisco these days are working with seasonal produce, cooking with less oil, and featuring leaner sources of protein, not to mention the plenty of options for those trying to live la vida low carb. As evidenced by the dishes on this map, when done right, tacos, burgers, and even pancakes can be low on calorie and high on nutrients.

To prove it, we've rounded up a list of 14 dishes from restaurants around San Francisco that are dripping in dietitian-approved deliciousness — and only one of them has kale.

Looking to continue your glowy lifestyle? Grab a smoothie or juice, as recommended by this map.

Did we miss your favorite healthy dish? Clue us in in the comments.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Almond quinoa pancakes at Little Gem

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Those in search of a healthy-ish breakfast option that’s not oatmeal or eggs should head on over to Little Gem. Its almond quinoa pancakes come topped with fresh cream and antioxidant-rich blueberries. They’re light, moist, and a great way to start the morning with something more substantial than a smoothie. $8.

Beet burger at Seed & Salt

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We’ve given a shoutout to this burger a number of times already, but it’s seriously that good. Beets, walnuts, lentils, mushrooms, brown rice, raisins, spices, and smoked sea salt are the alternative-flour power behind this beautiful creation. And it’s all served up on a gluten-free burger bun. $13.

Seed + Salt

Cebiche clásico at La Mar

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If you’re looking to eat clean without even noticing you’re doing so, raw fish is a no-brainer — and La Mar excels at that genre. Its “cebiche clasico” is made with a California halibut cooked in a leche de tigre, which is a bright, acidic juice fortified with fish stock. Superfood ingredients include Peruvian corn, and yam. $19.

La Mar

Chalet burger at Roam Artisan Burgers

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If you’re going to eat a burger, you might as well eat one that’s made with lean grass-fed beef and topped with some sort of super green. The Chalet burger at Rome features watercress, which is basically the healthiest thing you can eat. To make it your healthiest meal yet, you can get it on a whole-grain bun, gluten-free bun or nestle it between two pieces of lettuce. Any which way, you’re doing it right. $10.49.

Combo platter at La Mediterranee

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We’ve all been told that eating a Mediterranean diet is the key to a long and healthy life, which is awesome, because Mediterranean food is delicious. For a full sampling of favorites, the combo platter at La Mediterranee could be ordered as a nutritious appetizer or entire meal on its own. It’s got hummus, baba ghaoush, and tabouleh, and if you opt for the large, you'll get additional dolmas, feta, and olives. $10.95

Kale salad at Darwin Cafe

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This is a salad for anyone who thinks that they don’t like kale (or salads, for that matter). It’s the one that put Darwin Cafe on the map in SoMa, and its ingredients include kale, radicchio, lemon, garlic, parmesan, prosciutto, and balsamic. It’s filling enough to be a perfect midday meal or after-work dinner, and while the restaurant doesn’t love the idea, it can be easily modified for vegetarians. $12.

Mesquite grilled brochettes at Greens

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Salsa criolla, Hodo Soy firm tofu, mushrooms, potatoes, peppers, fennel, and sweet potatoes served alongside jasmine rice and an apple-carrot slaw are the current seasonal take on this menu staple. All the vegetables plus a boost of protein from our favorite local purveyor of soy make this dish a win for your tastebuds and waistline.

Greens

Pozole at Gracias Madre

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Like everything else at this vegan haven, the pozole at Gracias Madre isn’t made with any fatty pork products or dairy. Instead, the traditional hominy soup is made with ancho-chile broth and topped with a cashew crema and avocado for good measure. You could skip the tortilla strips if you’re trying to go easy on the fried stuff. $14.

Gracias Madre

Quinoa beet pesto salad at Proper Food

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While everything on the menu here is designed to be clean, healthy, and delicious, one particular dish stands out: the quinoa beet pesto salad. Along with beets and red quinoa, this grab-and-go meal is packed with flavor thanks to spicy wild baby arugula, a sweet balsamic reduction, crunchy walnuts, goat cheese, and a house-made red wine vinaigrette. For a couple bucks, you can boost the protein by adding chicken. $8.50

Proper Foods

Shokudo bento box at Okane

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The best thing about a bento box is that it's a complete, single-serve meal that helps you with portion control while (hopefully) tasting amazing. Okane’s shokudo box certainly does, coming with salmon teriyaki, rice, spinach goma ae (a Japanese-style spinach salad), pickles and salad or miso soup. $14.

Michael Ogata

Tako tacos at Chaya

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Yes, tacos can be healthy, depending on what you put in them. Chaya has elevated its taco Tuesday game with its tako tacos made with octopus (a super lean protein), green papaya, and avocado. Sesame tortillas up the gluten-free and yum factors. Two for $10.

Chaya

Thali at Kasa

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While Indian food is all about those vegetables cooked in disease-fighting spices, when eaten at restaurants it’s not necessarily the healthiest option. However Kasa’s entire mission is to deliver healthy Indian food that’s still super flavorful. Its thalis, or homestyle platters, are your best option to get a range of things that are good — and good for you. They all come with a choice of meat or vegetables served up with whole-wheat rotis, slow-simmered lentils, vegetable salad, chutneys, and raita. $11.95.

The Workout Box at Asian Box

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The name here says it all — this protein-packed meal in a box is all you need to feel good about eating well, exercise be damned. Made with all the ingredients you would typically think of in a nourishing meal — grilled chicken, brown rice, extra steamed veggies — it’s the pickled vegetables and tamarind vinaigrette that kick up the flavor. $8.75

Asian Box

Tuna poke at Liholiho Yacht Club

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Poke obviously made the cut, and while there’s a plethora of new poke options in the city, Liholiho Yacht Club's version stands out. Its tuna poke is served over a crispy nori cracker that beats out anything else you’ll find in a rice bowl any day. $16.50.

Almond quinoa pancakes at Little Gem

Those in search of a healthy-ish breakfast option that’s not oatmeal or eggs should head on over to Little Gem. Its almond quinoa pancakes come topped with fresh cream and antioxidant-rich blueberries. They’re light, moist, and a great way to start the morning with something more substantial than a smoothie. $8.

Beet burger at Seed & Salt

Seed + Salt

We’ve given a shoutout to this burger a number of times already, but it’s seriously that good. Beets, walnuts, lentils, mushrooms, brown rice, raisins, spices, and smoked sea salt are the alternative-flour power behind this beautiful creation. And it’s all served up on a gluten-free burger bun. $13.

Seed + Salt

Cebiche clásico at La Mar

La Mar

If you’re looking to eat clean without even noticing you’re doing so, raw fish is a no-brainer — and La Mar excels at that genre. Its “cebiche clasico” is made with a California halibut cooked in a leche de tigre, which is a bright, acidic juice fortified with fish stock. Superfood ingredients include Peruvian corn, and yam. $19.

La Mar

Chalet burger at Roam Artisan Burgers

If you’re going to eat a burger, you might as well eat one that’s made with lean grass-fed beef and topped with some sort of super green. The Chalet burger at Rome features watercress, which is basically the healthiest thing you can eat. To make it your healthiest meal yet, you can get it on a whole-grain bun, gluten-free bun or nestle it between two pieces of lettuce. Any which way, you’re doing it right. $10.49.

Combo platter at La Mediterranee

We’ve all been told that eating a Mediterranean diet is the key to a long and healthy life, which is awesome, because Mediterranean food is delicious. For a full sampling of favorites, the combo platter at La Mediterranee could be ordered as a nutritious appetizer or entire meal on its own. It’s got hummus, baba ghaoush, and tabouleh, and if you opt for the large, you'll get additional dolmas, feta, and olives. $10.95

Kale salad at Darwin Cafe

This is a salad for anyone who thinks that they don’t like kale (or salads, for that matter). It’s the one that put Darwin Cafe on the map in SoMa, and its ingredients include kale, radicchio, lemon, garlic, parmesan, prosciutto, and balsamic. It’s filling enough to be a perfect midday meal or after-work dinner, and while the restaurant doesn’t love the idea, it can be easily modified for vegetarians. $12.

Mesquite grilled brochettes at Greens

Greens

Salsa criolla, Hodo Soy firm tofu, mushrooms, potatoes, peppers, fennel, and sweet potatoes served alongside jasmine rice and an apple-carrot slaw are the current seasonal take on this menu staple. All the vegetables plus a boost of protein from our favorite local purveyor of soy make this dish a win for your tastebuds and waistline.

Greens

Pozole at Gracias Madre

Gracias Madre

Like everything else at this vegan haven, the pozole at Gracias Madre isn’t made with any fatty pork products or dairy. Instead, the traditional hominy soup is made with ancho-chile broth and topped with a cashew crema and avocado for good measure. You could skip the tortilla strips if you’re trying to go easy on the fried stuff. $14.

Gracias Madre

Quinoa beet pesto salad at Proper Food

Proper Foods

While everything on the menu here is designed to be clean, healthy, and delicious, one particular dish stands out: the quinoa beet pesto salad. Along with beets and red quinoa, this grab-and-go meal is packed with flavor thanks to spicy wild baby arugula, a sweet balsamic reduction, crunchy walnuts, goat cheese, and a house-made red wine vinaigrette. For a couple bucks, you can boost the protein by adding chicken. $8.50

Proper Foods

Shokudo bento box at Okane

Michael Ogata

The best thing about a bento box is that it's a complete, single-serve meal that helps you with portion control while (hopefully) tasting amazing. Okane’s shokudo box certainly does, coming with salmon teriyaki, rice, spinach goma ae (a Japanese-style spinach salad), pickles and salad or miso soup. $14.

Michael Ogata

Tako tacos at Chaya

Chaya

Yes, tacos can be healthy, depending on what you put in them. Chaya has elevated its taco Tuesday game with its tako tacos made with octopus (a super lean protein), green papaya, and avocado. Sesame tortillas up the gluten-free and yum factors. Two for $10.

Chaya

Thali at Kasa

While Indian food is all about those vegetables cooked in disease-fighting spices, when eaten at restaurants it’s not necessarily the healthiest option. However Kasa’s entire mission is to deliver healthy Indian food that’s still super flavorful. Its thalis, or homestyle platters, are your best option to get a range of things that are good — and good for you. They all come with a choice of meat or vegetables served up with whole-wheat rotis, slow-simmered lentils, vegetable salad, chutneys, and raita. $11.95.

The Workout Box at Asian Box

Asian Box

The name here says it all — this protein-packed meal in a box is all you need to feel good about eating well, exercise be damned. Made with all the ingredients you would typically think of in a nourishing meal — grilled chicken, brown rice, extra steamed veggies — it’s the pickled vegetables and tamarind vinaigrette that kick up the flavor. $8.75

Asian Box

Tuna poke at Liholiho Yacht Club

Poke obviously made the cut, and while there’s a plethora of new poke options in the city, Liholiho Yacht Club's version stands out. Its tuna poke is served over a crispy nori cracker that beats out anything else you’ll find in a rice bowl any day. $16.50.

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