By Elizabeth SanFilippo
Chicagoans love their locally-sourced food, but when it comes to low-calorie dining, not many restaurants are devoted to such healthy eating. Considering how many restaurants serving low-calorie bites have closed in the past few years — Drew’s Eatery and Cousin’s Incredible Vitality to name a few — it can be hard for diners to find both a healthy and delicious meal. Luckily, with the growing trend of locally-sourced foods, there are an increasing number of restaurants in Chicago dedicated to eating healthy but also eating well.
2807 N Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
Just as the name implies, this quick-service spot is busy. The menu too is jam packed with all sorts of healthy goodies, including rotisserie meats, salads, crepes and some good-for-you smoothies, at a reasonable price. Most everything is preservative and additive free, but it doesn’t lack in flavor or spice, making these delicious bites even more healthy for the discerning eater.
1511 S State St
Chicago, IL 60605
Flavor180’s mission is to change the world of fast food by serving healthy, made-to-order meals in a quick-service environment both in the South Loop location and on its food trucks roaming the city. While many of its dishes are based on turkey — think turkey hot dogs and burgers — Flavor180 also offers such delectable items as salmon burgers and buffalo chicken sandwiches. If the deliciousness and fresh food isn’t enough to draw you in, the prices are considering everything is within the range of $4.50 to $18. But if you’re looking to splurge, Flavor180 has something for you too, because it has both “nice” and “naughty” menu options.
1460 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
Meat eaters, put aside any assumptions you may have about vegetarian dining, because the Green Zebra, like so many fine-dining restaurants in Chicago, is all about eating local and eating well. The dishes here are delicious, fresh and while on the smaller side, offer great low-calorie options. While Green Zebra still offers dishes heavy with calories — think potato salad — most are focused more on vegetables and greens. Whether it’s the foraged mushrooms or the grilled Werp farm baby lettuce with a farm egg, every tapas dish here is top notch.
235 S Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60606
If there’s one place you think of when considering healthy eating in Chicago, think Protein Bar. The Chicago chain has exploded over the past couple years with new locations seemingly popping up overnight. That’s because the hopping lunch and dinner spot offers loads of protein-rich flavor with each healthy bite. Whether you’re ordering a bowl of oatmeal packed with fruit, a quinoa bar-rito with loads of veggies, a salad or a blended protein drink, Protein Bar markets all its nutritional information. Plus, make anything your own. Do you want chicken in that salad? Just ask. To make this dining experience even more healthy, none of its meals or drinks have any refined sugars, empty calories, hydrogenated oils or high-fructose corn syrup. They’re just that good.
Uno Chicago Grill
29 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611
This pizzeria may be known for its calorie-laden, deep-dish pizza, but it also has a plethora of options for those watching what they eat. Not only does it offer flatbreads with less than half the calories, but it also offers a trans fat-free menu in addition to a variety of grilled options. If you want to know what you’re eating precisely, many Uno locations include a Nutrition Information Center, detailing such things as calorie counts. Even the website breaks down what you’re getting from each meal. Most pizza places don’t want you to know what you’re eating, but Uno Chicago Grill is one chain that’s doing its part to keep you aware of what’s going into your body.
Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she’s scribbling novels, and TV show reviews and recaps. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.