Of all of the aspects I adore about Austin, the city’s emphasis on and love for fitness and health has always excited me. The trail around Lady Bird Lake is full of runners and dog walkers, and there’s a new juice shop just about anywhere you look. Though other cities are finally trending towards healthier food and restaurant options, Austin truly is a leader in this domain (hint, hint…Whole Foods).
Living in Austin also allows me to easily embrace local, seasonal produce from farmers’ markets that I incorporate in my own cooking. And though I love creating healthy meals at home, I’ve also made it a mission to explore the many Austin restaurants dedicated to fresh, nutritious dishes.
There is an enormous array of clean eating options in town, but below are my top picks and frequent go-to’s. These restaurants and juice stops are guaranteed to make you feel as fresh as the ingredients that go into the dishes they serve!
I can easily say that this is one of my new favorite restaurants, and it absolutely lives up to the hype, people. Australian-owned and NYC-raised, Two Hands’ newest Austin location is a full on ~vibe~ with plates that look like they came right from Instagram. The menu focuses on quality ingredients with options both health nuts and not-so-healthy eaters will crave. You can also snag a matcha or coffee at their window while you browse South Congress!
My picks: Salmon Quinoa Bowl, Avocado Toast, Brassicas Salad, Mushrooms & Greens Toast, Breakfast Roll, Two Hands Seasonal Scramble
Okay, no surprise here. Anyone who has given one of these famous bowls or salads a try can see why Sweetgreen is beloved across the board. Even my fiancé orders in his favorite Crispy Rice Bowl at least once a week! You really can’t go wrong with any of the menu items in my opinion, but I personally love ALL of the toppings, so I usually make my own (below).
My picks: Make-Your-Own Bowl: arugula, quinoa, spicy broccoli, brussels sprouts, apples, pickled vegetables, slaw, avocado, tofu, portobello mushrooms, avocado, spicy cashew dressing and a side of spicy sweet potatoes to share (this is essential)
Café No Sé
Not sure how I didn’t have this classic on my list prior to now, because Café No Sé is one of my ultimate Austin favs. They have one of the best brunches in town, in my opinion. The food is always spot on, and it’s perfectly located in the South Congress Hotel so you can spend the rest of your afternoon shopping and exploring. Also be sure to snag a matcha or coffee at Manaña right across the courtyard while you’re at it!
My picks: Quinoa Bowl with chicken, Sweet Potato Hash, Greenhouse Lettuces Salad, Café Spread, Breakfast Sandwich
This cute little hidden gem is a newby to the East Side and the perfect excuse to spend some time popping into the fun shops on East 11th (Take Heart Shop is my favorite, FYI). If you can get a table on the rooftop terrace, definitely do so – it truly makes you feel like you’re on vacation! This is the perfect place to grab a bite on your next date night or brunch with the gals.
My picks: Grain Bowl, Kale Salad, Avocado Toast-ada, Beet Toast
This new little shop downtown opened in 2020, and I’ve been dying to check it out after seeing it blow up on Instagram. And now I’ve been so many times that the staff might think I’m stalking them. But the food is so fresh, interesting and delicious, I just can’t get enough! The menu focusses on dairy-free, gluten-free items with only healthy oils and other nutritious ingredients. I also love that they have a variety of options that appeal to all types of eaters. Be sure to snag a table on their patio and people watch downtown!
My picks: Salmon Plate, Butternut Squash Plate with chicken, Avocado Toast, Salmon Toast, Chicken Toast, Sweet Potato Hash, Acorn Squash & Lentil Salad
ATX Food Co.
Austin is the home to SO many amazing food trucks, and I’m personally grateful to have quick, healthy options readily available. ATX Food Co. is beloved in the vegan community for its interesting, plant-based spin on healthy favorites like tacos and pancakes. You’re sure to leave your meal here feeling like you did something good for your body (without compromising on taste!).
My picks: Lucky Squash Taco, BBQ Brisket Taco, Breakfast Taco, Chickpea Power Bowl, Coconut Squash Soup, Electrified Wild Blueberry Pancakes
If you’re looking for atmosphere as colorful as the food, you’ve come to the right place. The decor itself transports you to a health nut’s version of heaven, and the menu has an incredible array of salads, grain bowls, wraps and veggies using locally-sourced, sustainably-raised and organic ingredients. Even non-veggie lovers won’t be able to stay out of their craveable sides.
My picks: Vegan Ingredient Salad with Sustainable Salmon, Vietnamese Crunch Salad, Mother Earth Bowl with Grass-Fed Steak, Roasted Butternut Squash, Yuzu Brussels Sprouts, Spicy Japanese Eggplant
Blenders & Bowls
Smoothie bowls are all over the place these days, but Blenders & Bowls was truly the first to popularize these beautiful and nutritious treats in Austin. You can customize any of their bowls as you wish, and they always have creative seasonal specials. It’s exactly what you need on those sweltering summer days or after a sweaty yoga class!
My picks: The Chill Berry, The Green Bowl, The Bowl of Paradise, The Nutty by Nature
True Food Kitchen
True Food has been one of my longtime favorite locations for a healthy date night dinner or an easy lunch with friends. They live by the motto “honest food that tastes really good,” and all of their dishes are full of flavor minus the junk you don’t want. From cocktails with a healthy twist, seasonally inspired salads, pizzas and more, there truly is something for everyone to enjoy.
My picks: Kale Guacamole, Shiitake Lettuce Cups, Seasonal Ingredient Salad, Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, Ancient Grains Bowl, Kale-Aid
Fresa’s Chicken Al Carbon
Whether it’s sitting outside at their South 1st restaurant or swinging through the North Lamar drive-through, Fresa’s never disappoints. They provide a healthy spin on classic dishes with incredibly tasty wood-grilled vegetables and proteins. Here, you don’t have to sacrifice a nourishing, clean meal when you have a hankering for Mexican food.
My picks: Power Bowl, Jerez Salad, Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Wood-Grilled Cauliflower, Green Apple Guacamole
Marye’s Gourmet Pizza
While in quarantine, Sam and I implemented “pizza Fridays” to have something to look forward to each week, and I have to say it might be the best idea we’ve ever had. We discovered Marye’s Gourmet Pizza after a friend suggested I try their cauliflower crust, and WOW. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it might beat out any regular thin crust pizza I’ve had. Even Sam raves about it, and we plan on continuing this weekly tradition!
My pick: Cauliflower crust pizza with mushrooms, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, basil and vegan cheese.
I was beyond thrilled when this local Austin spot opened another location off of Burnet road in addition to their original store up at the Arboretum. Whenever I’m craving some nourishing veggies, their loaded bowls never fail to hit the spot. While they have a variety of curated bowls, I love to make my own (aka so I can add everything they have to offer). Plus, this is one of my favorite places to order delivery from when I’m not looking to leave my couch 😉 .
My picks: Build Your Own Bowl – base of wild arugula, tofu, Ras El Hanout butternut squash, kale with lemon, charred broccoli with sesame, organic apples, crispy chickpeas, pickled onions, avocado, herb blend, fresh jalapeños and ginger chile sriracha sauce
If you’re in need of a healthy and filling dose of greens after a big night out, Vinaigrette will do the trick. They have every salad and sandwich you might want, washed down with a cocktail, drinking vinegar, juice or kombucha. Enjoy the gorgeous Austin weather on their iconic outdoor patio.
My picks: The Omega Salad with Cilantro Lime Shrimp, Vinny Nicoise Salad, La Pepita Salad, Cherry Tart Salad with Lemon-Herb Chicken Breast, Roasted Seasonal Vegetables
You can spot Picnik’s signature Butter Coffee in Whole Foods stores all over, but their Austin flagship restaurant and multiple trailers have so much more to offer. I can’t get enough of their inventive specialty coffees, seasonal dishes and nutritious desserts. Plus, they source all of their ingredients locally when possible and accommodate their menu to fit all dietary restrictions and preferences.
My picks: Harvest Hash, Superfood Muesli, Loaded Guacamole, Rainbow Chopped Salad with Blackened Salmon, Thai Red Curry, Golden Milk Matcha Latte, Mayan Mocha Latte
This classic Austin institution has long been a staple for health nuts. I’ve always loved their array of juices, hot drinks, shots and snacks but just recently discovered the incredible meal options they offer as well. If you’re on the move and need a quick and healthy lunch, JuiceLand is the perfect solution. Their meals are not only plant-based and vegan but also filling and tasty so you can take on the rest of your day.
My picks: Watermelon Juice, Ninja Bachelor Party, Liquid Gold Drop, Fixer Elixir, Hot Shot, Chow Fun Veggie Bowl, Middle East Feast, Gluten Free Crackers, Kale Chips
On the days when life gets crazy and the fridge is empty come dinner time, Snap Kitchen is an absolute savior. They have a huge variety of pre-made, healthy meals for every type of diet. They offer full subscription services for multiple days’ meals, customizable to your preferences and goals. Personally, I tend to pop in when I’m in need of a quick yet nutritious meal on the go, and their array of tasty options never disappoints. PLUS, they’re one of the few places in town that carries Coconut Cult and other specialty items!
My picks: Chicken Fried Broccoli Rice, Veggie Taco Bowl, Tahini Power Bowl, Romesco Salmon, Thai Grain Bowl, Chicken Turmeric Bone Broth
Whole Foods Market
While Whole Foods seems like an obvious choice for healthy eats in any city, the flagship store here in Austin is truly an experience. Along with areas dedicated to make-your-own tacos, stir fry, fresh juice, sandwiches, barbecue and sushi are a sit down seafood restaurant and hot and cold salad bars that go on forever. You could truly eat here daily and still never be disappointed.
My Picks: Hot/cold bar, Asian Express sushi, make your own stir fry, JuiceLand juice bar
Cava is a relatively new addition to the downtown food scene, opening in the fall of 2018, but it’s quickly become a favorite of many. The options for making your own salad or grain bowl (or a mix of the two!) are truly endless. You can customize with a variety of protein, vegetables, dips/spreads and toppings as you please. I’m a huge fan of Mediterranean flavors and could live on hummus alone, so Cava is the perfect, easy place to pick up a tasty, veggie-packed meal.
My Picks: Greens or Greens & Grains with Eggplant & Red Pepper Dip, Hummus or Red Pepper Hummus, Roasted Seasonal Veggies, Grilled Chicken or Falafel, Pickled Onions & Banana Peppers, Tomato & Cucumber Salad, Olives and Cauliflower Quinoa Tabbouleh
Nekter Juice Bar
This recent addition to the Seaholm Power Plant area is one of my new favorites for on-the-go juices, smoothie bowls and energy shots. All of the ingredients are fresh, nutrient-rich and incredibly tasty. Pick from their dreamy menu of smoothies or make your own to include anything and everything you love. Plus, you can always throw in some additional greens, protein powder and superfoods to any of their bowls if you’re looking for even more goodness. And if you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, give their vegan skoops a try (and get aaaaall the toppings, of course!)
My Picks: Açai Banana Berry Bowl (add greens & pea protein), Açai Superfood Bowl, Turmeric Sunrise Smoothie, the Burn Shot, Turmeric Citrus Lemonade, Classic Greens Juice, Vegan Chocolate Bliss Skoop
Asian food of any sort is right up my alley, but especially poke. So I was thrilled to say the least when Malibu Poke opened up downtown earlier this year. The fish is ridiculously fresh, sustainably sourced and sashimi grade, so their loaded bowls are something you can feel good about in every way. Choose from their curated menu or make your own and pick from the extensive list of proteins, bases, toppings and sauces. They even make sure to note how every single ingredient complies with a variety of diets and lifestyles such as paleo, Whole30, Keto, etc.
My Picks: Build Your Own Bowl — ahi tuna & hamachi, cauliflower rice & seaweed blend, garlic ginger & spicy chili sauces, avocado, micro cilantro macadamia nuts, mango, serrano peppers, pickled ginger & marinated cucumbers.
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