Eating out while on keto can be a daunting task.
It can be challenging to stay on track especially when your tablemates go all out on their carb consumption.
Yet, with little planning and research, it’s possible to enjoy delicious low-carb meals and not feel left out when dining out.
So, I’m dedicating this post to giving you tips on how you can enjoy dining out while still following the keto diet.
Keto Guide To Eating Out
Keto Tips For Eating Out
Researching and planning ahead is probably the most important part of eating out when you’re on the keto diet.
You have to research the restaurant and the whole menu.
When your friends suggest a restaurant you’ll go to, look at the menu to see if they have keto options or at least some dishes that could easily be turned into keto by some small changes.
If it’s an Italian restaurant with nothing but pasta & pizza, without any keto options, it might be hard to make changes.
So in a case like that, ask them to change the place.
When you find a restaurant that either has keto options or dishes that could easily be made keto, decide what dish you’ll be making before going – that way you’ll have enough time to figure out what parts of the dish need to be changed, and you won’t feel the pressure on the spot.
Ask For Substitutes
If the restaurant doesn’t have dishes labeled as ‘keto’, aka it doesn’t have keto-friendly options, you’ll have to make some substitutes.
Don’t be afraid to ask for them!
If you looked at the menu before going and you already had a menu item in mind that doesn’t require too many changes, it won’t be a problem for the chef.
Usually, you can always find a dish that can be changed – either an ingredient is substituted, or completely taken out.
So, ask the waiter if that ingredient can be substituted for something that’s keto-friendly. If it can’t, and it’s not the main part of the dish, just take it out and add a side salad to make up for it, or ask for more of the other parts of the dish.
When asking for substitutes or things you can remove, you’ll most likely be looking to eliminate starch.
For example, if you’re getting a burger, ask if it can be a burger with a lettuce ‘bun’ instead of the regular bun. If it can’t, ask for a bunless burger and add a side salad.
If you’re getting chicken and fries for example – ask if the fries can be replaced with grilled veggies as a side, or with green beans (that can also be great for you if you’re on a weight-loss journey).
If you’re getting a wrap, ask for lettuce wraps instead.
Add Protein or Healthy Fats
When you take stuff out (and that’s usually a carb), you can ask for more protein & healthy fats. If you take out croutons from the Caesar salad, you can ask them to add bacon, feta cheese, or something similar.
Don’t Forget About Sauces & Dressings
Sauces & Dressings can often have hidden carbs, so think about that!
If you’re not sure if the sauce is keto-friendly, you can ask the waiter to check.
Then if it is, you can ask if it can be substituted for a different sauce or dressing that is keto-friendly.
If it can’t, ask them to just remove it from the dish (you can just ask them to put olive oil & vinegar or olive oil & lemon juice as the dressing).
Don’t Forget About Drinks
Drinks often contain carbs, so think about what drink you’ll order as well. Luckily, you can always order a drink that’s keto-friendly – water, a lemonade (but make sure it isn’t sweetened), tea, etc.
Ignore The Bread Basket
While the bread basket can seem very tempting, of course, you’ll need to ignore it when you’re on the ketogenic diet.
If your friends plan on eating the bread before the actual main meal comes, you can order an appetizer that’s keto-friendly, so while the others are enjoying the bread basket, you’re eating your keto appetizer.
That way you’re making it easier for yourself, so you don’t have to watch them eat the bread while you’re not eating anything.
Keto Dishes To Eat Out
When you’re going out for breakfast, you can order an omelet with a side salad and some cheese. You can also get a veggie omelet. Some sides or omelet additions you can get are: a salad, bacon, avocado, cheese, sour cream, etc.
You can also get sunny-side-up eggs with veggies on the side, bacon, avocado, and cheese.
Broth-based soups are usually always keto. Tomato soup is a good option as well, or a veggie soup (made with non-starchy veggies). Broccoli Cheddar soup is also usually fine.
Salads are a great keto option when eating out, but they can often have some non-keto ingredients, so be careful.
When eating salads in restaurants, get a salad with veggies, a protein, and a healthy fat (cheese or avocado), and for the dressing, get olive oil + vinegar or olive oil + lemon to be safe.
Protein + Veggies
A great thing you can eat out is a meal that consists of protein (chicken, salmon, beef, etc.) and grilled veggies. Those options usually exist at most restaurants. You can order a side salad as well, and if they have add-on options, you can maybe add some cheese.
When a restaurant has lettuce wraps, it’s a great option for eating out! If they don’t, you can ask if it’s possible to substitute a regular wrap for a lettuce wrap.
Bunless Burgers or Burgers with Lettuce Buns
Again, this is another amazing keto option when restaurants have it! Both a bunless burger and a burger with a lettuce bun are great options for eating out on the keto diet.
Most traditional wings are keto-friendly. The only thing you have to think about is the sauce or the coating. However, if you get traditional wings with no coating, and sour cream or blue cheese dip, you should be good to go. Some buffalo wings are also okay to eat, depending on how much coating is put on them and how many wings you’ll eat.
Stir Frys are great options to eat out! They usually have protein (chicken, beef, etc.), and lots of veggies.
The only thing you have to be careful about is the sauce. Make sure the sauce is keto-friendly, or substitute it.
Tons of curries are keto! You’ll have to check for each, but generally speaking, you’ll be able to find keto curries in most places. Just ask for no rice or naan, and get a side salad instead.
When it comes to burrito bowls, you’ll obviously have to make some changes. You’ll have to ask for no rice, tortilla, or beans.
However, nowadays many places have cauliflower rice as an option for burrito bowls, so you can get that as a rice substitute, get the protein you want, veggies, cheese, guac, a keto salsa, and you’re good to go!
Best Keto-Friendly Restaurants
Here’s a list of restaurants that have keto-friendly options. I’ll also include some fast-food chains where you can get some keto-friendly options, along with what those options are.
Panera has quite a few great keto-friendly options.
You can get:
Broccoli Cheddar soup
Green Goddess Cobb Salad,
Caesar Salad with Chicken (ask for no croutons – you can actually leave the dressing in, as it’s very low in net carbs)
Hard-boiled eggs as an add-on to a dish
You can make a salad that includes:
Lettuce and greens
Dips & spreads: eggplant & red pepper dip, tzatziki, harissa, or crazy feta
Keto toppings: shredded romaine, pickled onions, cabbage slaw, diced cucumber, crumbled feta, tomato & onion salad, olives, tomato & cucumber salad, Fresno peppers, avocado
There are tons of keto options at the Cheesecake Factory.
Some things you can get are:
Caesar Salad with Chicken (ask for no croutons)
Grilled Branzino with Medditerranean Salsa
SkinnyLicious Grilled Salmon
You can make a salad with:
Salsa: Tomatillo-Red Chili Salsa, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Tomatillo Green-Chili Salsa
Some keto options you can get at Panda Express are:
String Bean Chicken Breast
Black Pepper Angus Steak
Kung Pao Chicken
Black Pepper Chicken
Did you know you can get any burger or sandwich in a lettuce bun instead of the regular bun at Wendy’s if you ask for it!
That makes it so easy to find a keto option – just get a burger and ask for a lettuce bun!
You can also get the Parmesan Caesar Chicken Salad – those croutons are actually parm crisps!
Just like at Wendy’s, you can get any burger with a lettuce bun instead of the regular bun!
Buffalo Wild Wings
Just like the name suggests, you can get wings at Buffalo Wild Wings!
However, that goes for traditional wings.
Boneless wings are breaded, so they’re not keto-friendly.