When you’re looking to eat healthy and don’t want to sacrifice taste and time
Food. Fast. Two words, when put together, never seem to equal a good choice.
Sometimes I find myself in a bind for lunch or dinner. I need to grab a bite fast but don’t have time (or let’s be honest, too tired) to cook. This can be an especially frustrating feeling if you’re feeling like you’re in a routine at the gym and you’re starting to see results. You’ve heard it all before, poor food choices can be a slippery slope…
After much experimentation, I’ve narrowed down my top five healthy restaurants in Gainesville. Here are 5 restaurants that offer healthy, fast options when you don’t have the time to prepare something at home:
1. ZOE’S KITCHEN
Zoe’s offers simple, fresh Mediterranean dishes. I like this spot for dinners when I’m tired and don’t want to cook. The food is consistently good and savory. Their counter-service ordering style makes it a fast option that’s usual ready to go in 10 min or less.
Favorite Dish: Steak Kabobs and the Protein Plate. I usually get both, so if you have an appetite you may end up ordering two dishes.
2. ONE LOVE CAFE
This is a newer favorite of mine. One Love is a farm-to-table restaurant so the menu changes every week. They are open Wednesday-Saturday (the hours are a little odd) for lunch and dinner with brunch on Saturday. And they have no freezers to store their food, so you know they take fresh ingredients seriously. One Love is also a counter-service ordering style. One of my favorite things about One Love is the outdoor tiki bar feel and lounging atmosphere. Each time I’ve visited, it’s been very relaxing to listen to live music and see everyone just enjoying him or herself. Additionally, they have a big area for families to play games outside plus pets are welcomed. It’s like time and work responsibilities stop at this place.
Favorite Dish: Egg omelet with fresh spinach, mushrooms, peppers, and side of breakfast potatoes.
3. LA PASADITA
I’ll admit, I was a bit hesitant on this one at first. It’s located in a remote, industrial area along NW 6th Ave., so not a likely location for a great Mexican restaurant. My concerns about the food were quickly squashed after the first bite. They always have great service, hot off the grill tortilla chips and fresh salsa ready when you sit down. If you’re craving authentic Mexican food, this is your spot.
Favorite Dish: Super fajitas with shrimp, steak, and chicken topped with a mound of fresh peppers and onions.
4. THE TOP
The Top has grown on me a lot over the years. It is a great lunch and/or dinner spot. I love how much the Top supports local businesses by sourcing a majority of their food locally. One of my favorite options is their grass fed beef. As far as the atmosphere, it can be a bit loud near the bar during the week, but the booths are quieter and the low lighting gives it a more intimate feel. It’s great for larger groups (they’ve even started taking call aheads) or dinner for two, however expect a longer than normal wait time if you hit them at a peak time.
Favorite Dish: Good Morning Burger with no bun, sweet potato fries and side of coleslaw.
5. GRILL FRESH
If you want fresh whole food fast then this is your spot. They offer call ahead pick up orders that will help you bypass the busy ordering line as well. Steph and I usual order several meals at a time and use the leftovers for the next few days. You really can’t beat the cost and convienience of Grill Fresh.
Favorite Dish: 6 Bowl with potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, steak and chicken. Don’t forget the chimichurri sauce! It’s amazing.
Remember, temptations and poor food options are everywhere, but if you take the time to establish a few favorite spots that satisfy your tastes and training goals, you’ll never be stuck with a wrong choice again.