Have you vowed to eat healthier this year? Many of us do with the start of a new year, but when you go out to eat, that well-intentioned promise can get a little trickier to keep and your new year’s resolutions can get derailed.
Not to worry — you can have your cake and eat it, too. Well, in this case, not cake but maybe a burger, some powerhouse salads, curries and kabobs. We’ve compiled a list of guilt-free Louisville restaurants, where you can eat out with friends while also sticking to your healthy eating goals. We’ve even included recommendations of some dishes to try at each eatery, so you can have some go-to healthy choices to dazzle your taste buds and protect your waistline.
Happy — and healthy — eating!
16 Healthy Louisville Restaurants
624 E. Market St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 384-9090
Hours: Dinner served Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Brunch served Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; closed Monday
Enjoy a luxurious fine dining experience with a laid-back vibe, while also staying healthy. Harvest offers up Southern-style, farm-to-table comfort food made with organic, seasonal ingredients. In fact, 80% of their ingredients come from within a 100-mile radius. The chef’s menu changes regularly according to what produce local farmers bring to the kitchen door. Start your meal with Ivor’s black-eyed pea hummus, served with pickled vegetables and garlic crostini, or perhaps try the heirloom beet and lolla rossa salad with hazelnut-crusted chèvre and a drizzle of goat’s milk yogurt. The simple yet divine Kentucky Lake catfish with confit potato and vegetable escabeche in cioppino jus is to die for.
1722 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, KY 40206 • (502) 896-8770
2116 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40205 • (502) 690-4161
Hours: Monday, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Gluten-free? Vegan? Paleo? You’ll find a slew of healthy options on the menu at North End Cafe. Sure, it may look like your typical upscale American diner, but the owners at this Louisville staple aim to locally source all of their produce, meat and eggs at this Louisville staple. For breakfast, which here you can have at every meal, try the breakfast stir fry or veggie omelette. North End’s roasted chicken or grilled Atlantic salmon are smart options for dinner, and their grilled veggie and salmon Niçoise salads are hearty yet light.
1293 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40204 • (502) 451-0700
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday brunch, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Sunday dinner, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
If you don’t know what you’re in the mood for but want to try something new, Ramsi’s is ALWAYS a good choice. Owners Rhona and Ramsi Kamar have packed the menu with healthy plates full of global flavors. And the food is always fresh. Divided into dietary specialties, the menu includes categories such as pescatarian, gluten-free and a personal favorite — the Hope Farm Wellness Menu, which features everything from east India paella to tuna tartare. This menu was inspired by the couple’s farm in eastern Jefferson County, which is USDA organic certified and provides the restaurant with the majority of its produce and eggs throughout the year, so no matter what you order, you know you are getting wholesome, organic goodness.
605 W. Main St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 883-3398
Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This weekday breakfast and lunch hotspot along Museum Row always has a nice selection of healthy offerings. Chefs and co-owners Rebecca Johnson and Mary Wheatley are intentional about giving their loyal following of regulars healthy yet delicious options, so that they walk away with happy taste buds and nourished bellies. For breakfast, try “The David,” an open-faced sandwich on Blue Dog levin with a tomato smear, olive oil, mashed avocado, scrambled egg, bacon and arugula (hold the bacon, if you wish!). They’ve also got a breakfast parfait of honey-orange yogurt with seasonal fruit and yogurt, or simply grab a fruit and yogurt smoothie to go. For lunch, try one of their health-forward salads, such as the Powerhouse salad of fresh greens, dried cranberries, edamame, toasted chickpeas, sliced cucumber, pickled red onion and caramelized sunflower seeds. You simply can’t go wrong at this lovely daytime eatery.
216 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40204 • Heart & Soy: (502) 452-6678 • Roots: (502) 452-6688
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; closed Sunday
You won’t find any meaty dishes in this slim building off Bardstown Road. But fast-casual Asian street food eatery Heart & Soy, and its adjoining upscale vegetarian restaurant, Roots, offer guilt-free, tasty options that won’t give you that heavy feeling of carrying a food baby post-meal. Founded with the phrase “You are what you eat” in mind, this vegetarian-only restaurant serves up sizeable portions of pho and pad thai, as well as myriad rolls, wraps, soups and other Asian classics. Heart and Soy, which houses Kentucky’s only tofu manufacturing machine, is more of a fast-casual, carry-out and catering establishment, while Roots is the owner Huong “CoCo” Tran’s answer to the lack of fine vegetarian dining in Louisville. Both restaurants were founded on a philosophy of remaining mindful of food’s impact on the environment, the community and the health of its patrons.
4864 Brownsboro Road, Louisville, KY 40207 • (502) 690-6585
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; closed Sunday
4816 Brownsboro Ctr., Louisville, KY 40207 • (502) 205-2888
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Chef Anoosh Shariat has been a vegetarian for more than 25 years, and his daily motto is “eat well, love life.” At both of his restaurants, Anoosh Bistro and Noosh Nosh, he offers a variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu items including heirloom beet salad, coconut curry tofu, roasted mushroom pasta and seasonal vegetable risotto at Anoosh Bistro. Chef Anoosh is always willing to modify a dish to fit his diners’ dietary needs. And never fear — this highly acclaimed chef knows how to deliver the flavor, no matter the dietary restrictions.
812 E. Market St., Louisville, KY 40206 • (502) 749-8128
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
If you’re looking for an upscale dining experience with healthy yet luxuriously delicious options, Decca has it. Executive Chef and owner Annie Pettry is known for developing bright flavors with the best ingredients of the South at her hip NuLu restaurant. From wood-grilled broccoli and beets, to caramelized cabbage and potatoes, Chef Pettry’s menu features a range of vegan and vegetarian and plain ol’ healthy options. Patron favorites include the butternut squash risotto with buttermilk ricotta and ras el hanout, as well as the shaved apple salad with mustard greens, candied walnuts and Parmesan dressing. Yum!
300 W. Main St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 562-0007
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. (4 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the summer)
Sure, you have your typical bar fare here, such as pretzels and beer cheese, fried pickles, wings and nachos. But since its founding in 1993, and through its many evolutions, this pub has been dedicated to quality ingredients served in a warm atmosphere. And its overall menu reflects that with healthy options from the apps to the entrees. Their hummus is always a great starter. They also have protein-packed main courses, including the Powerhouse salad, pot roast and “South of the Border” burger. And forgo the side of fries by adding a bit of color to your plate with either seasonal vegetables, broccoli, cole slaw or fruit.
641 S. Fourth St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 585-1125
Hours: Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.
The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest to follow, and Safier, which means “ambassador” in Arabic, seeks to introduce its patrons to the goodness and health benefits of Persian and Lebanese cuisine. For starters, you can’t go wrong with stuffed grape leaves, lentil soup or their hummus, a customer favorite. If you’re on the go, their chicken shawarma and kafta kabob serve as quick, healthy lunches. For a larger yet equally satisfying meal, the shish kabob, shish tawook and Mediterranean platter won’t disappoint.
5339 Mitscher Ave., Louisville, KY 40214 • (502) 363-7535
Hours: Monday through Thursday (closed Wednesday), 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.
Think you don’t like Vietnamese food? Think again. Vietnam Kitchen is consistently one of the highest-rated restaurants in the Louisville area on Yelp. Tucked into an Iroquois Park shopping mall, this Vietnamese restaurant serves up generous portions of spiced-to-order dishes, including a wide variety of curries. For a light yet filling meal, check out their selection of vermicelli or rice noodle soups. If you’re looking for a dish to eat now and later, their chicken or seafood and rice combos are so generously portioned, they will give you lunch for the day after. Remember to order by number, though. SB TIP: For healthy options, we recommend the A.12 and A.25 for appetizers, the B.5 and C.3 for soups, and the J.4, K.11, E.3, F.4, H7 and VN.8.
Five locations with a Bardstown Road location coming this spring; hours and phone numbers vary according to location
Any Shiraz regular will tell you that this restaurant uses the freshest ingredients in their made-to-order meals. The restaurant got its start in Louisville when Ramin and Ashcon Akrami opened up their first storefront using the recipes from their parents’ catering business. Since then, it’s grown to five locations with a sixth in the works along the bustling Bardstown Road corridor. Get in some greens with their classic and tasty starters, including tabouli and quinoa and Mediterranean and Greek salads. Their wraps are hearty and well-priced, and their kabobs — made with chicken, lamb, fish or veggies — won’t make you feel like you’re cheating on your 2018 food resolutions.
804 Taylorsville Road, Louisville, KY 40205 • (502) 459-6301
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Take a trip to Ethiopia when you walk through the doors of this restaurant, with nutrient-dense and low-fat dishes. Known for their health benefits, most Ethiopian dishes are served as slow-cooked stews seasoned with exotic spices or freshly cooked sautéed dishes with flavorful meat and vegetables. Queen of Sheba’s wraps are made with injera — a thin, gluten-free spongy sourdough bread — wrapped around a variety of sautéed vegetables and meats. Their stews, made with chicken and sometimes hot spices, will provide extra warmth as you get through the winter months. And don’t forget the “Queen’s Specialties,” including Shifta tips — beef, chicken or lamp tips, seared on a high flame with onions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes and seasoning — or the spicy Gored-Gored — fresh, tender beef cubes sautéed in a paste of Ethiopian spices and berbere — all served with injera or rice, side salad and gomen, which is Ethiopian collard greens.
813 E. Market St., Louisville, KY 40206 • (502) 566-0651
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; closed Sunday
Craving Mexican food? While there are plenty of taco joints in town, Mayan Café offers a unique farm-to-table experience with bold flavors and pairings in each dish. Chef Bruce Ucan and business partner Anne Shadle opened the NuLu restaurant in 2007 and have made sustainability at every level their mission. The fresh menu items with ingredients grown on Kentucky farms change monthly and concentrate around a specific ingredient. And there’s always daily specials, so you’ll have something new to order almost every time you go. To keep to your diet, avoid dishes with cream. Other than that, you’ll have a savory, satisfying and healthy night out at this 10-year-old Louisville establishment.
323 Wallace Ave., St. Matthews, KY 40207 • (502) 899-9670
12003 Shelbyville Road, Middletown, KY 40243 • (502) 690-8344
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m to 9:30 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m to 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; closed Sunday
We’ve been to Mexico, Ethiopia, the Middle East and Vietnam on this list, so now let’s head over to Thailand. Since 2006, Simply Thai has been serving up healthy — and some spicy — Thai cuisine and sushi just outside of Metro Louisville. Not only is it easy to stay healthy here with such an extensive array of naturally healthy Asian dishes, but most of Simply Thai’s dishes can be customized to be gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan. For a healthy appetizer, try the spring rolls. Here, the pad thai comes in four different varieties and is a fit and filling option. Sticking with curry — of which Simply Thai has five — is a smart bet, as well as high-protein entrees, such as the mango salmon and herbed pork loin. Vegetarian options, including the Thai eggplant, are also a healthy bet here.
Now when you find yourself out on the town and starving for a bite, you can head to one of these eateries and dine guilt-free!
Check out all our restaurant reviews and recipes in our Food and Dining section on StyleBlueprint!