April 24, 2024

Whether it’s date night, lunch with a friend, or a family dinner out, you’re probably eating out more often than you think. In a 2023 US Foods Survey, the average American ate food prepared out of the house, either takeout or dine-in, an average of 7.5 times per month.

If you eat out too often or choose the wrong foods when eating out, your health could suffer. A March 2022 review in Nutrients found that a high rate of eating out was associated with poorer diet quality, as evidenced by a higher intake of calories, total and saturated fats, sugar, and sodium and lower intakes of fiber, dairy, fruit, vegetables, and important essential micronutrients.

While most popular restaurants began including calories on their menus in 2018, the amount of calories isn’t the only thing you’ll want to pay attention to. Limiting sodium, saturated fats, and added sugars while choosing options high in protein, healthy fats, fiber, fruits, and veggies can help you stick to your health goals even while enjoying a meal out of the house. Keep reading for the healthiest menu options at 30 popular restaurants, according to dietitians!

Chili’s Classic Sirloin with Avocado

chili's classic sirloin with avocado and roasted asparagus
Chili’s

Nutrition (Per 6 ounce serving):
Calories: 316
Fat: 18 g (Saturated fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 1,010 mg
Carbs: 12 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 39 g

“A Classic sirloin is a 6-ounce sirloin with avocado, cilantro pesto, and pico served with a side of grilled asparagus,” says Amy Beney MS, RDN, CDCES, “making it a great option for those who want to dine out and make easy, healthy choices.” The entire meal is just 316 calories but has 39 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, along with plenty of healthy fats from the avocado to help keep you full and satisfied.

 8 Healthiest Dishes to Order at Chili’s, According to Dietitians

Perkins Build Your Own Omelette with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Peppers

Perkin's Build Your Own Omelette with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Peppers
Perkins Restaurants

Nutrition (Per serving):
Calories: 260
Fat: 17 g (Saturated fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 240 mg
Carbs: 8 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 21 g

The Build Your Own Omelette at Perkins is the healthiest thing you can order—depending on what you choose to put on it! Filing your omelet with fresh veggies like spinach, mushrooms, and peppers adds essential nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin D while keeping the sodium and saturated fat to a minimum. If you want a little cheese, ask for lightly sprinkled American or Pepperjack or just one slice of Swiss, since the regular amount of cheese added will add another 8 grams of saturated fat and double the sodium.

Ruby Tuesday Grilled Salmon

Ruby Tuesday Grilled Salmon
Ruby Tuesday

Nutrition (Per serving):
Calories: 330
Fat: 22 g (Saturated fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 470 mg
Carbs: 0 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 39 g

For a healthy and protein-packed dish at Ruby Tuesday, grab an order of their grilled salmon. This lightly seasoned salmon is just 330 calories and has 39 grams of protein. “It also only contains 470 milligrams of sodium, which is low compared to most restaurant meals,” says Melissa Mitri, MS, RD, Nutrition Writer and Owner of Melissa Mitri Nutrition. Mitri suggests adding two Fit & Trim sides for a balanced meal.

TGI Fridays Simply Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Butter Broccoli and Mashed Potatoes

TGI Fridays Simply Grilled Salmon
TGI Fridays

Nutrition (Per serving):
Calories: 530
Fat: 33 g (Saturated fat: 10 g)
Sodium: 1,740 mg
Carbs: 29 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 34 g

The Simply Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Butter Broccoli and Mashed Potatoes at TGI Friday’s is a complete meal that’s balanced and satisfying. “This meal packs a ton of nutrients into a flavorful, balanced meal with 34 grams of protein, plenty of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and only 530 calories,” says Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN owner of Malina Malkani Nutrition and author of Safe and Simple Food Allergy Prevention.

Cheesecake Factory SkinnyLicious Chicken Soft Tacos

The Cheesecake Factory SkinnyLicious Chicken Soft Tacos
The Cheesecake Factory

Nutrition (Per three tacos):
Calories: 510
Fat: 15 g (Saturated fat: 3.5 g)
Sodium: 830 mg
Carbs: 63 g (Fiber: 12 g, Sugar: 13 g)
Protein: 32 g

The SkinnyLicious Chicken Soft Tacos at Cheesecake Factory comes with three soft shell tacos filled with chicken, avocado, tomato, onions, cilantro, and cream. Plus, you get a side of vegetable salad. With plenty of fresh veggies and lean protein, this meal also has just 830 milligrams of sodium, or 36% of your daily value (DV).

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at The Cheesecake Factory

Applebee’s Blackened Cajun Salmon

applebee's Blackened Cajun Salmon
Applebee’s

Nutrition (Per serving with steamed broccoli):
Calories: 340
Fat: 17 g (Saturated fat: 6.5 g)
Sodium: 1,070 mg
Carbs: 10 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 38 g

“The Blackened Cajun Salmon is a delicious way to get in those healthy omega-3 fatty acids,” says Erin Davis, MS, RDN, CDCES. Skip the garlic mashed potatoes that are often served with this meal to keep it lower in sodium and reduce the saturated fat. The salmon has 38 grams of protein and healthy fats and a side of broccoli adds 3 grams of fiber and micronutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and folate.

Red Robin Simply Grilled Chicken Salad

red robin simply grilled chicken salad
Red Robin

Nutrition (Per serving with olive oil and vinegar dressing):
Calories: 340
Fat: 16 g (Saturated fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 650 mg
Carbs: 12 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 37 g

The Simply Grilled Chicken Salad at Red Robin is simple and satisfying. With sliced grilled chicken breast on top of mixed greens, cheddar cheese, tomato, croutons, and cucumbers, you get plenty of vegetables and 37 grams of protein to help keep you full. Top this salad with a dressing of olive oil and vinegar to add healthy fats and flavor without extra sodium or added sugars.

 11 Best Low-Sugar Salad Dressings, According to Dietitians

PF Chang’s Steamed Buddah’s Feast

Buddhas feat steamed pf changs
P.F. Chang’s

Nutrition (Per serving):
Calories: 120
Fat: 2.5 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 190 mg
Carbs: 16 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 11 g

The Buddha’s Feast is a steamed dish with tofu, white sauce, garlic, green beans, mushrooms, cabbage, broccoli, and carrots. We love how many vegetables this dish features, and choosing the steamed option versus fried saves 620 milligrams of sodium. “Tofu is an excellent source of plant-based protein that is low in calories and fat making it a healthy option for those watching their weight,” says Michelle Rauch, MSc RDN, Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for The Actors Fund. “Tofu contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein, and it is a good source of iron, manganese, Vitamin A, and calcium,” Rauch adds.

 5 Most Authentic Dishes To Order at a Chinese Restaurant, According to Chefs

Olive Garden Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Olive Garden Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Olive Garden

Nutrition (Per lunch-sized serving):
Calories: 360
Fat: 12 g (Saturated fat: 3.5 g)
Sodium: 530 mg
Carbs: 51 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 14 g

Olive Gardens’ Spaghetti and Meat Sauce (the lunch-sized entree) has just 360 calories and provides only 17.5% DV of saturated fat and 23% DV of sodium to your day. The meat sauce adds 14 grams of protein and is also a good source of lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes.

Red Lobster Grilled Rainbow Trout

red lobster rainbow trout
Red Lobster

Nutrition (Per Filet):
Calories: 550
Fat: 29 g (Saturated fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 730 mg
Carbs: 1 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 68 g

The Grilled Rainbow Trout from Red Lobster is one of the healthiest options on the menu. “This dish is high in protein which is essential for building and repairing tissues in the body, and rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improved heart health, brain function, and reduced inflammation in the body,” says Rauch.

Uno Pizzeria & Grill Berry and Goat Cheese Side Salad

Uno Pizzeria & Grill berry goat cheese salad
Uno Pizzeria & Grill

Nutrition (Per side salad):
Calories: 170
Fat: 10 g (Saturated fat: 2.5 g)
Sodium: 130 mg
Carbs: 18 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 13 g)
Protein: 4 g

The Berry and Goat Cheese Side Salad at Uno PIzzaria and Grill is a great way to start your meal with plenty of fresh fruit and greens! Only 12.3% of Americans get the recommended 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit each day, so salads like this one that include strawberries, grapes, and blueberries are a great way to help meet your goals even while eating out.

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse Enlightened Asian Chopped Salad

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse Enlightened Asian Chopped Salad
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

Nutrition (Per salad):
Calories: 540
Fat: 20 g (Saturated fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 825 mg
Carbs: 38 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 22 g)
Protein: 45 g

The Enlightened Asian Chopped Salad from BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse is loaded with veggies like baby greens, napa cabbage, romaine, red bell peppers, green onions, and carrots. “All of these veggies add plenty of micronutrients and 5 grams of fiber to go along with grilled chicken, which adds 45 grams of protein,” explains Sheri Berger, RDN, CDCES.

LongHorn Steakhouse Redrock Grilled Shrimp

LongHorn Steakhouse Redrock Grilled Shrimp
LongHorn Steakhouse

Nutrition (Per 8 shrimp):
Calories: 160
Fat: 3 g (Saturated fat: 1.5 g)
Sodium: 960 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: <1 g, Sugar: <1 g)
Protein: 30 g

For a high-protein option that’s low in saturated fat and calories, try the Redrock Grilled Shrimp at LongHorn Steakhouse. Eight pieces of grilled shrimp have just 7.5% DV of saturated fat and 41% DV of sodium. While the sodium may seem a little high, it’s one of the lower-sodium options on the menu. Shrimp is an excellent source of selenium, a trace element that plays an important role in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protecting the body from oxidative damage.

Hooters Naked Wings

hooters naked wings
Hooters

Nutrition (Per 6 wings without sauce):
Calories: 430
Fat: 26 g (Saturated fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 190 mg
Carbs: 1 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 53 g

Choosing the Naked Wings from Hooters saves significant sodium as the breading and seasonings on other styles pack in the salt. The nutrition information is with plain wings, but as they’re so low in sodium and sugar, you can add a dry rub like Caribbean Jerk or Texas BBQ or the Samurai Teriyaki sauce without going over 25% DV for sodium.

 10 Restaurant Chains That Serve the Best Buffalo Wings

Golden Corral Okra and Tomato Stew

golden corral okra and tomato stew
Jaime D./Yelp

Nutrition (Per ½ cup serving):
Calories: 60
Fat: 2.5 g (Saturated fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 530 mg
Carbs: 7 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 1 g

The Okra and Tomato Stew at Golden Corral has plenty of nutritious ingredients including tomatoes, which are high in vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene as well as okra, which is a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, and folate. This stew is a little high in sodium, providing 23% of the recommended daily limit, but can still add a nutrient boost to your meal.

Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings Naked Chicken Tenders
Buffalo Wild Wings

Nutrition (Per 3 tenders):
Calories: 160
Fat: 1 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 1,440 mg
Carbs: 0 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 37 g

“Buffalo Wild Wings’ 3-Count Naked Chicken Tenders are simply seasoned chicken breast—one of the leanest, highest-protein meats around,” says Kelsey Sackmann, MS, RD owner of Kelsey P. RD. “Though they’re not completely naked, as they do have a high sodium count of 1,490 milligrams, they’re still a good choice to promote feelings of fullness,” says Sackmann.

Outback Steakhouse Perfectly Grilled Salmon with Remoulade

Outback Steakhouse Grilled Salmon with Remoulade
Outback Steakhouse

Nutrition (Per serving):
Calories: 660
Fat: 52 g (Saturated fat: 10 g)
Sodium: 540 mg
Carbs: 1 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 45 g

The Perfectly Grilled Salmon with Remoulade at Outback Steakhouse is loaded with healthy fats (omega-3s) and packed with 45 grams of lean protein to help you stay full and satisfied,” says Ashley Harpst, RDN, owner of Go For The Gold Nutrition. And with just 540 milligrams or 23% DV, it’s one of the lowest sodium entrees on the menu.

California Pizza Kitchen Banh Mi Power Bowl

california pizza kitchen Bahn Mi Power Bowl
California Pizza Kitchen / Facebook

Nutrition (Per bowl):
Calories: 490
Fat: 31 g (Saturated fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 660 mg
Carbs: 31 g (Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 26 g

“The Bahn Mi Power Bowl at California Pizza Kitchen is loaded with veggies, contains 26 grams of protein from chicken and quinoa, 8 grams of fiber, and a reasonable sodium content of 660 milligrams per serving,” says Kristi Ruth RD, CNSC, LDN owner of Carrots and Cookies. You’ll also get a serving of veggies with fresh ingredients like carrots, bean sprouts, cabbage, and cucumbers.

 11 Best Low-Sugar Salad Dressings, According to Dietitians

Long John Silver’s Baja Grilled Salmon Taco

Long John Silver's Baja Grilled Salmon Taco
Long John Silver’s

Nutrition (Per taco):
Calories: 210
Fat: 9 g (Saturated fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 590 mg
Carbs: 23 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 8 g)
Protein: 13 g

The Baja Grilled Salmon Taco has 13 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and just 210 calories. It’s a little high in sodium, with 590 milligrams, or 26% DV for each taco, but for a filling fast food option, it’s one of the lower sodium choices at Long John Silver.

Texas Roadhouse Texas Chili with Beans

Texas Roadhouse Chili With Beans
Texas Roadhouse

Nutrition (Per cup):
Calories: 210
Fat: 10 g (Saturated fat: 4 g)
Sodium: 640 mg
Carbs: 14 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 16 g

The Texas Chili with Beans is flavorful and filling, with 16 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Soup and chili are notoriously high in sodium, but this loaded cup has just 640 milligrams of sodium or 28% DV.

 10 Unhealthiest Texas Roadhouse Orders, According to Dietitians

Carrabba’s Italian Grill Tuscan Grilled Chicken

Carrabba's Tuscan-Grilled Chicken
Carrabba’s Italian Grill

Nutrition (Per serving):
Calories: 290
Fat: 7 g (Saturated fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 790 mg
Carbs: <1 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 52 g

“The healthiest menu item at Carrabbas Italian Grill is the Tuscan Grilled Chicken,” says Lauren Mahesri, RDN owner of The Pediatric Dietitian. The chicken itself has 52 grams of protein, only 34% DV of sodium, and 10% DV of saturated fat. Mahesri recommends eating the Tuscan Grilled Chicken along with a side salad and grilled asparagus or broccoli for extra fiber and micronutrients.

Johnny Rockets Grilled Chicken Club Salad

Johnny Rockets Grilled Chicken Club Salad
Johnny Rockets

Nutrition (Per serving, with no dressing):
Calories: 400
Fat: 20 g (Saturated fat: 10 g)
Sodium: 790 mg
Carbs: 10 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 50 g

“The Grilled Chicken Club Salad at Johnny Rockets is a healthier choice on their menu,” says Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT, Owner of One Pot Wellness based in Indianapolis, IN. With 50 grams of protein, this salad will keep you full and satisfied long after you’ve eaten. To save sodium, fat, and calories, choose to get the bacon and cheese on the side, adding just as much as you’d like and lightly drizzle dressing overtop instead of adding the entire packet.

Denny’s Fit Slam

Denny's Fit Slam
Denny’s

Nutrition (Per serving):
Calories: 450
Fat: 12 g (Saturated fat: 2.5 g)
Sodium: 860 mg
Carbs: 59 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 22 g)
Protein: 27 g

“Denny’s Fit Slam is the healthiest breakfast on the menu, and one you can enjoy for breakfast or have as breakfast for dinner,” says Megan Huff, RD, an Atlanta-based dietitian. An egg white scramble, two strips of chicken bacon, an English muffin, and fruit provide a great balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat while keeping the sodium at only 37% DV.

Bob Evans Garden Protein Bowl with Egg Whites

Bob Evans Garden Veggie Protein Bowl
Bob Evans

Nutrition (Per serving):
Calories: 410
Fat: 22 g (Saturated fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 1,210 mg
Carbs: 40 g (Fiber: 10 g, Sugar: 22 g)
Protein: 18 g

The Garden Protein Bowl with Egg Whites is packed with vegetables like roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed spinach, peppers, roasted corn, black beans, and onions. All of these veggies add 10 grams of fiber to your meal, or 35% of the DV and the egg whites help bring the protein total up to 18 grams without adding extra saturated fat.

 38 High-Protein Breakfasts That Keep You Full

Waffle House Egg Sandwich on Wheat Toast

Waffle House

Nutrition (Per sandwich):
Calories: 210
Fat: 8 g (Saturated fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 280 mg
Carbs: 23 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 14 g

A plain egg sandwich on wheat toast is one of the healthiest menu items you can get at Waffle House. With 14 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, this sandwich is still filling but will save you a lot of sodium, fat, and calories that come with most of Waffle House’s other sandwiches and breakfasts.

Cracker Barrel Grilled Catfish

Cracker Barrel Grilled Catfish
Cracker Barrel

Nutrition (Per filet):
Calories: 130
Fat: 5 g (Saturated fat: 1.5 g)
Sodium: 330 mg
Carbs: <1 g (Fiber: <1 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 19 g

The Grilled Catfish Fillet is high in protein, low in saturated fat, and has only 330 milligrams of sodium, or 14% DV. “Catfish is rich in protein while being lower in calories, which makes it a good choice for those watching what they eat. It contains a variety of essential nutrients such as B vitamins, Vitamin D, Potassium, Selenium, Phosphorus, and omega-3 Fatty Acids, which have been studied for their anti-inflammatory properties and benefits for heart health, brain function, and overall well-being,” says Rauch.

IHOP Pesto Veggie Egg White Omelette

IHOP Pesto Veggie Egg White Omelette
IHOP

Nutrition (Per omelette):
Calories: 480
Fat: 34 g (Saturated fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 640 mg
Carbs: 26 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 16 g)
Protein: 21 g

IHOP’s Pesto Veggie Egg White Omelette is a balanced breakfast that will keep you full and satisfied and add valuable nutrients to your day. You’ll enjoy mushrooms, tomatoes, avocado, and pesto nestled into an egg white omelet, served with fresh fruit. The 21 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber can help you meet your daily goals while making it easy to stick to the recommended daily sodium limit, as each serving has just 28% of the DV.

First Watch Power Wrap

First Watch Power Wrap
First Watch

Nutrition (Per wrap):
Calories: 500
Fat: 11 g (Saturated fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 950 mg
Carbs: 63 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 19 g)
Protein: 37 g

“The healthiest menu option at First Watch is the Power Wrap,” says Lindsay Cohen, RDN, LDN, CDCES. “It has 37 grams of lean protein from the egg whites and turkey, no added sugar, and a decent amount of vegetables with mushrooms and spinach,” Cohen says. Plus, it’s served with a side of fresh fruit and pico for another boost of fruits and veggies.

 20 Best & Worst First Watch Orders, According to Dietitians

On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina Portobello and Vegetables Fajitas

Shutterstock

Nutrition (Per serving, without rice, beans, and condiments):
Calories: 270
Fat: 17 g (Saturated fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 910 mg
Carbs: 26 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 6 g

“At On The Border, the Portobello and Vegetables Fajitas are an excellent choice for a plant-based meal,” says Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN. Adding rice, beans, chips, and salsa will start to rack up the sodium, fat, and calories, so feel free to skip any of those extras depending on your nutrition goals. Mushrooms and avocados are good sources of B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid, which are essential for a healthy metabolism and brain function.

Bonefish Grill House Salad with Wood-Grilled Chicken and Citrus Herb Vinaigrette

Bonefish Grill House Salad with Wood Grilled Chicken and Citrus Herb Vinaigrette
Bonefish Grill House

Nutrition (Per entree-sized salad):
Calories: 700
Fat: 47 g (Saturated fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 670 mg
Carbs: 13 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 61 g

The entree-sized House Salad with Wood-Grilled Chicken and Citrus Herb Vinaigrette Dressing is an entree salad that’s loaded with satisfying flavors and ingredients like grilled chicken, Romaine and mixed greens, hearts of palm, kalamata olives, tomatoes, and pepitas. It provides an impressive 61 grams of protein and only 29% DV of sodium and 30% DV of saturated fat.

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