FOODIE FIND: THE BEST GOURMET HEALTHY EATS ACROSS THE COUNTRY

If you take a look at Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, you know that Americans are increasingly obsessed with two things: healthy living and dining out.

By Ben Young

AAA World Article

If you take a look at Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, you know that Americans are increasingly obsessed with two things: healthy living and dining out. But sometimes, it’s difficult for these two worlds to collide when restaurant menus frequently lack healthy options and preparation methods. Lucky for us, good-for-you eateries are one of the fastest-growing sectors in the restaurant business. And, even better, many of these options are offering more than just salad; they’re serving up decadent options with healthy twists. We’ve crisscrossed the country and discovered some of the best gourmet healthy restaurants, so you can keep your health in check in 2019, while still having a plate that’s social media-worthy.

TOWNHALL 
CLEVELAND, OHIO 

Located in the center of a tree-lined block of the trendy Ohio City neighborhood, TownHall prides themselves on their non-GMO menu and organic zero-toxin coffee. Serving brunch, lunch and dinner, the restaurant features a special vegan menu on Mondays and paleo menu on Wednesdays.

The brunch menu is headlined with a build-your-own crepe bar, highlighting both sweet and savory options, but one of the real gems is the huevos rancheros, featuring a poached egg, chorizo rojo sauce, black bean quesadilla and roasted Yukon potatoes. Try the sweet potato hotcakes, or the staff-recommended grilled cheese bars (we suggest adding goat cheese and prosciutto).

The dinner menu doesn’t disappoint—nor does the extensive beer, wine, and quirky cocktail menu. Be sure to start your meal with the prosciutto-wrapped dates, and understand up front that you won’t be able to just have one of them. Highlights of the dinner menu include the Thai peanut bowl with roasted chicken, seared organic tofu or vegan chicken; the salmon with jalapeño-citrus quinoa salad, roasted cauliflower, and sunshine turmeric vinaigrette; and the crowd favorite food-truck tacos.

CLAIRE’S CORNER COPIA 
NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT 
A New Haven staple, Claire’s Corner Copia has been welcoming diners to this organic, vegetarian, and gluten-free sanctuary for 43 years. It’s a warm, comfy, and quirky spot to check out for a quick, healthy bite for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. All meals are prepared in-house and local ingredients are used whenever possible. If you have any dietary restrictions, you will fully appreciate the friendly and knowledgeable staff who will do their best to accommodate special requests, including nut, soy, and gluten-free options.

Crowd favorites at Claire’s include the quiche, quesadillas, burritos, and variety of salads that can all be washed down with one of the many freshly juiced beverages. Be sure to check out the wide selection of desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth, especially the Lithuanian coffeecake.

PLANT 
ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA 
Throw out any preconceived notions you may have about vegan food, as Plant provides a menu made from scratch and served with sophistication. The Earth provides all the ingredients here, and the food is organic whenever possible. With an extensive beer and cocktail menu, Plant also features a menu of wines chosen for their unique attributes and production styles, including being filtered only with plant-based methods.

Start your vegan journey with their Maitake Mushroom with cauliflower oyster and pearl, radish, roasted garlic, hazelnuts and basil, or with the vegan cheese plate. One of the standouts at Plant is the seitan chile con queso—a stuffed tamale with grilled farm romaine and cilantro mojo, pickled jalapeno, and onion. Round out your vegan feast with the blackout pie, featuring a pretzel crust, chocolate peanut butter fudge, berry sauce, and homemade salted peanut butter ice cream.

BEATRIX 
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 
With three locations in the heart of Chicago—River North, Streeterville, and Fulton Market—Beatrix is a modern dining room with a coffee and wine bar that combines a casual edge with a healthy dining experience. It’s comfort food with a healthy twist as breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner all feature meals with sophisticated preparations.

The ahi tuna crudo with seven-flavor chilies shouldn’t be missed, and the unique turkey “neatloaf” with braised kale and vegetable gravy serves as a healthy alternative to traditional meatloaf. Beatrix features a robust soup and salad collection, as well as a unique selection of juices, including the pineapple, pear and ginger, and the blueberry and basil smash. For a quick snack or starter, check out the Tsukune—Japanese chicken meatballs glazed in a chili cilantro sauce. Be sure to make a reservation as all three locations fill up quickly and you can expect long wait times for a table.

ABC KITCHEN 
NEW YORK, NEW YORK 
The perfect location for a date night or business dinner near Union Square, ABC Kitchen and chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten have perfected the casual dining experience with a distinctive, comfortable setting. The menu focuses on local and organic ingredients and can be seasonal, but it also features some incredible mainstays.

Get started with the pretzel-dusted calamari with spicy tomato and mustard aioli or the crab toast with lemon aioli (get at least one of these per person). For dinner, check out the wood-oven-roasted Maine lobster or the Akaushi cheeseburger served with herbed mayo. Other popular dishes include the sea bass with chili and herbs, and the fried organic chicken that features a tempura-like fry and is served with a hot sauce butter.

MAKOTO 
BAL HARBOUR, FLORIDA 
This upscale restaurant is strategically located in the stylish Bal Harbour Shops and has a strong local following. This is due to the attentive and knowledgeable staff, chic Asian décor, lovely outdoor terrace, and famed cuisine orchestrated by Iron Chef competitor Chef Makoto. No stranger to creativity, Chef Makoto uses high-quality ingredients in his tempting dishes.

The fish is ultra-fresh, with many selections delivered directly from Japan, including scallops, golden eye snapper, and tuna. One of the more notable dishes is the Wagyu beef, which is prepared tableside, featuring ginger, garlic, truffle oil, and mitsuba. The highlight of the sushi menu is the orange clam, better known as Aoyagi, and you’ll also want to try the miso sea bass and the Toro tuna tartare.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS 
TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK 
One of our AAA inspectors put it best when they said, “Even though I have dined alone, I have never had so much fun and learned so much while enjoying [a] culinary adventure.” Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located about 30 miles north of New York City, is a once-in-a-lifetime culinary journey that allows you to take advantage of the abundant fresh resources of the Hudson Valley as they are harvested.

There are no menus. Instead, guests receive a list of ingredients available from the greenhouse, fields, pastures, forests, farm, and cellar that will be used to create a sophisticated multi-taste meal. Every dish showcases the best offerings from the fields and market as patrons are seated in the top-notch restored dairy barn. Service is outstanding, as a procession of artisans present their offerings plate by plate, using ingredients from the surrounding farms and pastures. This highly sophisticated eatery is not recommended for children, has an upscale dress code, and requires advance reservations, but it is more than worth it for such a remarkable experience that engages diners in the effect of everyday food choices.