Keto Friendly Restaurants: How To Stay Keto During the Summer When Eating Out

No need to put your low-carb lifestyle on hold while travelling just because you can’t cook in your own kitchen. There are plenty of options when it comes to dining out while sticking to a keto diet. To avoid common pitfalls, brush up on your menu reading skills, keep an open mind, and don’t hesitate to ask your server about the ingredients of a menu item! 

Some general tips can get you started on the right foot:

  1. Pack snacks and stay well hydrated to avoid decision making on an empty tank. As the Snickers tagline says, “you’re not you when you’re hungry!”
  2. Scan the menu for keto staple foods: non-starchy vegetables (ex. salads, vegetable sides etc.), protein (ex. chicken, beef, eggs etc.) and fats (ex. avocado, mayo, vinaigrette dressing, cheese etc.). 
  3. Avoid breads, breading (ex. breaded fish, chicken, onion rings etc.), croutons and casseroles. 
  4. Choose zero carb beverages like water, unsweetened iced tea or coffee.
  5. Pay attention to sauces and dressings. Zero or low carb sauces and dressings typically include mayo, classic hot sauce, Caesar, ranch, vinaigrette dressings (with exception to raspberry and other fruit vinaigrette's packed with sugar), fresh salsa, oil and vinegar.
  6. Consider menu combinations as suggestions and feel free to ask nicely for any foods you see listed, in any arrangement. Most restaurants are willing to accommodate special requests.

For some inspiration, check out these keto-friendly selections from some popular menus:

Olive Garden

Keto Friendly Restaurants, Olive Garden Herb Grilled Salmon and Broccoli | HighKey Snacks

Herb Grilled Salmon and Broccoli
Cal 460 Total Carbs 9g Net Carbs 4g Fat 29g Prot 45g
Keto Friendly Restaurants, Olive Garden Salmon Picatta with Parmesan Encrusted Zucchini | HighKey Snacks
Salmon Picatta with Parmesan Encrusted Zucchini
Cal 570 Total Carbs 11g Net Carbs 8g Fat 39g Prot 45g
Keto Friendly Restaurants, Olive Garden Chicken Margherita with Parmesan Encrusted Zucchini | HighKey Snacks
Chicken Margherita with Parmesan Encrusted Zucchini
(Dinner Portion) 
Cal 550 Total Carbs 12g Net Carbs 8g Fat 29g Prot 63g
Keto Friendly Restaurants, Chicken Picatta with Parmesan Encrusted Zucchini | HighKey Snacks
Chicken Picatta with Parmesan Encrusted Zucchini
(Dinner Portion)
Cal 510 Total Carbs 12g Net Carbs 9g Fat 36g Prot 59g

Beverages: Coffee, San Pellegrino, Unsweetened Tea, Bottled Water

Nutrition facts calculated using: Olive Garden Menu

Make it work, at any Italian restaurant: choose salad, protein and steamed or roasted low carb vegetables. Ask for no croutons on the salad and dress with olive oil and sugar-free vinegar.

Red Lobster

Keto Friendly Restaurants, Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail with Cocktail Sauce | HighKey Snacks
Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail with Cocktail Sauce
Cal 130 Total Carbs 11g Net Carbs 11g Fat 0g Prot 21g
Keto Friendly Restaurants, Garlic Grilled Sea Scallops with Asparagus | HighKey Snacks
Garlic Grilled Sea Scallops with Asparagus
Cal 160 Total Carbs 9g Net Carbs 7g Fat 8.5g Prot 12g
Keto Friendly Restaurants, Maine Lobster (1 ¼ lb) with Fresh Broccoli and Asparagus | HighKey Snacks
Maine Lobster (1 ¼ lb) with Fresh Broccoli and Asparagus
Cal 560 Total Carbs 12g Net Carbs 7g Fat 41g Prot 39g

Keto Friendly Restaurants, Red Lobster Create Your Own Entree

Create Your Own Entree: Pair un-breaded fresh fish (ex. cod, snapper, haddock, halibut etc.) with broccoli or asparagus for <10g of net carbs

Beverages: Coffee, Unsweetened Tea, Water

Nutrition facts calculated using: Red Lobster Nutrition Calculator

Make it work, at any Seafood restaurant: keep it fresh! Choose un-breaded steamed, baked or broiled fish and pair with simple green vegetables. If you’d prefer smaller portions, mix and match green vegetable sides with appetizer shellfish like scallops or shrimp. 

California Pizza Kitchen

Keto Friendly Restaurants, California Pizza Kitchen Petite Wedge Salad | HighKey Snacks
Petite Wedge Salad
Cal 270 Total Carbs 5g Net Carbs 4g Fat 26g Prot 6g
Keto Friendly Restaurants, California Pizza Kitchen Asparagus and Arugula Salad | HighKey Snacks
Asparagus and Arugula Salad
Cal 190 Total Carbs 8g Net Carbs 5g Fat 17g Prot 4g
Keto Friendly Restaurants, California Pizza Kitchen Grilled Steak Salad | HighKey Snacks
Grilled Steak Salad
Cal 790 Total Carbs 15g Net Carbs 10g Fat 59g Prot 50g
Keto Friendly Restaurants, California Pizza Kitchen California Cobb Salad (half portion) | HighKey Snacks
California Cobb Salad (half portion)
Cal 480 Total Carbs 11g Net Carbs 6g Fat 37g Prot 26g

Create your Own Entree: Pair Halibut, Cedar Plank Salmon or Ribeye with asparagus or arugula salad for <10g net carbs.  Note that California Pizza Kitchen does offer pizza with cauliflower crust, but it is still a little carb-y at ~13 g of net carbs per slice.

Beverages: San Pellegrino, Water, Coffee or Unsweetened Tea

Nutrition facts calculated using: California Pizza Kitchen Personalized Menu

Make it work, at any pizza joint: If you don’t mind being messy, pull the toppings off the pizza for very few net carbs. Stick with non-starchy vegetables, olives, meat and cheese. Salad with protein and a low carb dressing are always a safe bet – skip the croutons and any breaded or deep fried proteins. 

Panera Bread

Panera Bread Ham, egg and cheese sandwich (hold the bread) | HighKey Snacks
Ham, egg and cheese sandwich (hold the bread)
Cal 230 Total Carbs 1g Net Carbs 1g Fat 16g Prot 18g
Panera Bread Caesar salad (full portion, no croutons) | HighKey Snacks
Caesar salad (full portion, no croutons)
Cal 230 Total Carbs 4g Net Carbs 2g Fat 23g Prot 6g
Keto Friendly Restaurants, Panera Bread Green Goddess Cobb Salad (half portion) | HighKey Snacks
Green Goddess Cobb Salad (half portion)
Cal 280 Total Carbs 12g Net Carbs 8g Fat 16g Prot 21g
Keto Friendly Restaurants Panera Bread Turkey Sandwich (hold the bread)
Turkey Sandwich (hold the bread)
Cal 280 Total Carbs 12g Net Carbs 9g Fat 15g Prot 31g
 Keto Friendly Restaurants Panera Bread Steak and Cheddar Sandwich (hold the bread)
Steak and Cheddar Sandwich (hold the bread)
Cal 480 Total Carbs 9g Net Carbs 9g Fat 34g Prot 42g

 

Beverages: Coffee, Iced Coffee, Unsweetened Tea, Bottled Water

Nutrition facts calculated using: Panera Nutrition Information

Make it work, at any bakery: order sandwiches bun-less or salads without the croutons. Can’t decide? Mix and match to include the inside fixings of a sandwich and a salad. If its morning, you may also consider coffee with heavy cream to hold you over until lunch. 

 

Final Thoughts

With so many great choices, there’s no need to abandon your low carb lifestyle to enjoy a meal out. With a little practice, you’ll develop a keen eye for spotting workable items on restaurant menus and the best way to place your order to get what you need.

When in doubt, pull out a smart phone or tablet and check out the menu online before placing an order so you can be prepared and in the know.

Save these tips for later by hovering over the image below and clicking "Save" to add directly to your Pinterest board! 

 


Happy Dining!

 

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