Where to Eat Healthy in New Orleans (Really!)
“Let’s go to New Orleans to detox,” said no one, ever. Let’s face it: the Crescent City is a draw largely for its open-container, anything-goes, embrace-debauchery attitude.
That’s a great reason to love it, but even the hardest partiers need a break. Good news: if you find yourself craving a salad or a green juice after a long night of barhopping or a few too many beignets, you’ll find plenty of health food options all over NOLA.
Pulp & Grind
Can’t decide between an energizing green juice and a coffee kick-start? No need if you visit this Warehouse District newbie, opened in February by local restaurateurs Peter and Cassi Dymond. Most popular among the organic, cold-pressed juices here is the Nice Greens, a not-too-sweet blend of spinach, kale, apple, and lemon. Another favorite of the local clientele—including workers from neighboring offices as well as post–yoga class attendees and runners finishing up along St. Charles Street—is the Wellness Shot, a fiery four-ounce mix of lemon, ginger, and cayenne that will get you sweating if you aren’t already. A small selection of pastries is also available, along with craft coffee drinks.
Pop into this soothing little Zen spot located along a busy stretch of Magazine Street to fortify yourself in between shopping for festival gear at Fleurty Girl and grabbing a beer at The Bulldog. Rusty Roussel, owner of neighboring Salvation Studio gym, comes in for the Going Green juice, a refreshing mix of kale, parsley, cucumber, celery, mint, apple, and lime for just under $10.
Also available are lighter flavored waters, including chia coconut and lemon-ginger-mint, wheatgrass shots, and smaller, kid-friendly offerings like Carrot Head (apple, carrot, cucumber) and Kale-ly (pineapple, kale, apple). There’s sometimes a salad or energy bar in the cooler, but this place primarily focuses on the juice.
With more than two-dozen juice and smoothie options (named Love, Compassion, Wisdom, Freedom, Healing, and the like) to choose from, you could easily come to this Lower Garden District take-out place for liquids alone. But locals know to stop in for lunch, too. The food menu changes weekly depending on what local produce is available, and appeals to a variety of tastes, whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or just feel like grabbing a healthy snack.
If it’s juice you’re after, Love is the favorite, with celery, apple, romaine, kale, cucumber, spinach, lemon, and parsley. Or try the Patience smoothie, with Love juice plus spirulina, bee pollen, hemp protein, honey, pineapple, and banana or avocado.
In search of a healthy sit-down meal? Across the street from the Green Fork is this sunny vegan eatery, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. The menu features popular dishes like nachos and gumbo, and visitors often don’t realize Seed is vegan (that is, until they try to get cream for their coffee).
The restaurant aims to combine New Orleans flavors with healthful ingredients, with dishes including a pan-fried eggplant po’boy, southern fried tofu “nuggets,” and a tangy BBQ sandwich made from seitan, along with salads and fresh soups. There are plenty of juice options here too; even the cocktails are made with fresh blends.
Coconut, kimchi, ume plum, goji—you’ll find all the buzzwords on the menu at this aptly named Uptown café. Locals and Magazine Street shoppers come in for hearty vegetarian wraps and salads; favorites include the Viet Wrap, with a spicy red bean and rice patty, pickled vegetables, and a sweet-spicy mango sauce, and the Pesto Wrap, with a black bean patty, greens, tomatoes, and a zesty garlic-herb pesto.
You’ll find interesting vegan nut cheeses and flavorful dressings throughout (the “coconut bacon” on the Superfood Salad is very satisfying), as well as plenty of info about which offerings are raw and/or gluten-free. There’s also a varied menu of smoothies, juices and juice shots, and an acai bowl for dessert. Grab something to go or pick up your order from the tiny window and sit at one of the half-dozen tables.
Popular among the film and TV community in New Orleans, Raw Republic offers a wide array of organic, cold-pressed juices and non-dairy “mylks”—the staff sprouts the almonds in-house—as well as a few raw, vegan salads, chia pudding, and energy bars, and even some organic beauty products. The juices, which run the gamut from all greens to sweeter options with beets and fruit, are all around $10 for 16 ounces. House-made iced teas, an addictive “tonic” with lemon, ginger, cayenne, coconut nectar, and filtered water, and “booster shots” of bracing ginger juice round out the offerings in the colorful cooler. Another feel-good reason to visit: Raw Republic’s packaging is made from various environmentally friendly materials.
Fare Food for Health
Paleo fans flock to this Magazine Street café, where all the food is dairy-, soy-, gluten-, and refined sugar–free. The locals and tourists who frequent Fare grab salads, soups, and breads from the fridge, or sip smoothies or cold-pressed juices (both $7; the popular Island Green juice has a nice mix of pineapple, orange, cucumber, romaine, kale, and lime). Take it to go, or stop for a spell at one of the tables, inside or out. The food menu changes frequently; favorites include the shrimp-carrot-cauliflower chopped salad, the broccoli “cheddar” soup (made with coconut milk and ground mustard), and the chocolate chip cookies. Or cool off with a Popsicle, which comes in grown-up flavors like ginger peach, blueberry basil, cucumber lime, and chai latte.
If you’re hungry after visiting Audubon Park (or just in the mood for some greens), have lunch at this bright, no-frills salad and wrap place. Select an item off the menu (the Tex Mex salad is the most popular) and have it as is or top with chicken, shrimp, turkey, or tofu. Or choose among the dozens of toppings and create your own. Salads begin at $6.95 and wraps at $6.30, with additional costs for proteins and premium toppings like artichoke hearts or avocado.
Just off Piety Street in the Bywater you’ll find Satsuma Café, where you’ll likely wait in line for fresh-squeezed organic juices, fortifying breakfasts—celebrity restaurateur John Besh orders the green breakfast sandwich and the immune booster juice—or, for lunch, generous salads and sandwiches. There’s plenty here for more traditional eaters (bagels, ham, bacon, cheeses, biscuits), along with the wheatgrass shots, quinoa, and kale you’d expect from a healthy eatery. Grab an outdoor table when weather permits (but beware of the aggressive sparrows; we saw one steal the bacon right off someone’s plate) or sit in the eclectically decorated inside area, a smiling server will deliver your food.
Call it southern hospitality. If you’ve had a particularly rough night, order a fresh juice or smoothie and d-Juice will happily deliver it right to you, for free. The It’s Not Easy Being Green smoothie is their biggest seller, with a mix of kale, spinach, bell pepper, cucumber, apple, peach, mango, and banana. Flavored lemonades—made without added sugar—are also popular here with the working moms, yoga enthusiasts, and Tulane students who frequent the space, located on the same stretch of Oak Street that boasts legendary music venue the Maple Leaf.
Tucked into the back of the First Bank and Trust building in the CBD (what locals call the Central Business District) is this busy fast-casual lunch spot, open Monday to Friday only. City Greens takes “farm to table” seriously; the company owns its own farm. “We pick everything on Friday, deliver it by Sunday, and serve it on Monday,” says manager Alex Neal. The abundant salad, wrap, and soup menu offers many vegetarian, vegan, and/or gluten-free dishes, though there’s also chicken, tuna, steak, bacon, and turkey available. You can choose a salad from the wide array of offerings (the Southwest is by far the favorite; seasonal specials rotate as well) or build your own from dozens of toppings that include microgreens, edamame, and either raw or roasted brussels sprouts. Or try a soup, wrap, or cold-pressed juice. Salads and wraps run from around $8 to $13; juices are $8. And the restaurant will deliver to CBD locations for $3.
Whether you’re looking for a meal, a snack, or a drink, you’ll find it at this cheerfully hip café just off Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District. If it’s breakfast time, order one of the egg dishes, like the Ozzy Plate, with poached eggs on sautéed greens, avocado, tomatoes, and quinoa, or toast topped with either vegan cashew “cheese,” basil and cucumber, or ricotta, honey, and sea salt (both are just $5.95, and the cheeses are made in-house). Salads and sandwiches are available for lunch, and you can get a dish made with tempeh “bacon” or regular bacon, or select a frittata or quiche from the fridge. Baked goods are both indulgent and vegan; the brownies and blueberry-almond bars, both raw, are rich enough to share. Wash it all down with a bottled fresh juice, kombucha, kefir, or craft coffee drink (including single-origin pour-overs).
It’s mostly locals who visit this six-year-old juice bar, located on a fun stretch of Freret Street largely undiscovered by tourists. Students, families, and yoga enthusiasts drop by for juices (made with a traditional juicer, not cold-pressed), smoothies, and creative acai bowls. On hot days, come by for Beaucoup’s Sno-Balls. made with fresh juice and just a bit of sugar (unlike the traditional versions of this NOLA treat, made with sticky-sweet syrups laced with enough dye to stain your mouth).
3 Potato 4
If you’re jonesing for fries, but your conscience is screaming at you to eat something healthy, you’re in luck. The fries here (russet, red-skin, sweet potato, or crinkle cut) are actually not fried at all—they’re baked—but they have just the right crisp-soft balance so you won’t miss the grease. With more than a dozen sauces to choose from, like Garlic Pepper Mayo, Chinese Firecracker Ketchup, and Spicy Jalapeño Ranch, you won’t believe that everything is vegan and gluten free. Fries come in eco-friendly paper cones (small is $4, “hungry” is $5, and “share” is $6), and there’s a bin for composting when you’re done. In the fridge are bottled fresh juices, iced teas, and stevia-sweetened sodas. Not a fry fan? Enjoy a treat made by local bakers Girls Gone Vegan or one of the carefully curated packaged snacks, like Health Warrior chia bars. The location is somewhat out of the way, but a booth in the French Market is coming soon.
Eat Fit NOLA
Now you can eat healthy even in “regular” restaurants, thanks to this nonprofit program, started by Ochsner Health System dietitian Molly Kimball in 2012. She works with chefs at Commander’s Palace, Dickie Brennan’s Steak House, Ye Olde College Inn, Muriel’s, the Ruby Slipper Café, and more to create special menu offerings that fall within specific calorie, fat, and sodium parameters and contain no refined starches and very little sugar. Visit the Eat Fit NOLA site for a list of restaurants, then seek out the Eat Fit NOLA seal on the menu next to the dishes that qualify (sorry, the Bread Pudding Soufflé at Commander’s doesn’t qualify; we checked).