With the so called “local and organic food revolution” taking the world by storm, it is easy to guess that the culinary landscape of a city like New York must have been changing a lot over the last few years. The time when New Yorkers could only choose between fast food, Asia cuisine or pizza is over. Nowadays, there are many places where one can eat healthy, local and organic food in the City. On top of this, more and more restaurants and bistros have been exposed to the topic of food allergies and have started constructing their menus in a more thoughtful way, highlighting allergens and categorizing their dishes with labels like “gluten free”, “vegan” and “vegetarian”.
This said, if you are on the paleo diet (or, as I am, on the AIP) and you are planning a trip to – or you live in – New York City, you don´t need to worry. Indeed, there is a good number of restaurants in New York that offer healthy and reasonably cheap paleo-friendly meals, including organic meat, salads and diary-free soups. Here are my five top picks:
Hu Kitchen is the first and only fully paleo restaurant in New York. It is located at the very center of Manhattan, near 14th Streer and Union Square (where a really nice green market, also worth visiting, takes place a few times per week). Everything at Hu Kitchen is free of grains, gluten, diary and sugar. The only sweeteners used are organic coconut sugar, unfiltered honey and maple syrup. Even if you are on the AIP, you will have no difficulties in finding something you can enjoy given their huge menu of paleo breakfasts, bowls, salads and organic fresh juices. On top of this, Hu Kitchen also has a really cool website worth checking out, as they explain a lot about their cuisine and philosophy.
Dig Inn Seasonal Market
Dig Inn is a chain of healthy fast food restaurants which are to be found in multiple locations throughout Manhattan. The menu is not strictly paleo, but it has been constructed in such a way as to make it easy to order a customized and healthy meal. You can order your plate with either a base of grains (not paleo!) or a base of greens and then add up other healthy ingredients (like avocado, chicken, sweet potatoes, spinaches), which change on a daily basis. All meals at Dig Inn are reasonably cheap (around $10-12), tasty and nutritious. Also, the personnel is very friendly and will be happy to answer all your questions; still, prime hours at the restaurant in 55th Street are a no-go. Indeed, as the restaurant is very close both to the MoMa and to different offices, so many people – both tourists and New Yorkers – choose to stop by and have a bite that you will be very likely to cue up for about 20 minutes before even getting into the place.
The Roast Kitchen concept is very similar to the Dig Inn philisophy. Roast Kitchen is, too, a chain of healthy fast food, where you can build your own hot or cold bowl with fresh, local ingredients.. In comparison to Dig Inn, Roast Kitchen has more salad options. If you are on the paleo diet, the best choice is to pick one of Roast Kitchen’s super tasty salad bowls, or customizing your own bowl if you are on the AIP. Roast Bowls, instead, should be avoided on the paleo diet, as they contain grains.
Even more than Roast Kitchen, Sweetgreen is a true salad paradise, which can be found not only in NYC, but also in other American cities like Philadelphia and Los Angeles. At Sweetgreen, you will find a large choice of fresh ingredients you can combine to build your salad bowl. All ingredients are super high quality, but you may want to be more careful when choosing to include cooked vegetables and cooked stuff however, as these have been reported as sometimes having non paleo ingredients in the sauces, so you will want to inquire about ingredients before adding non-raw items to you salads. And, if you want to take a look at the menu beforehand, Sweetgreen has a cool and up-to-date website you might want to check out.
Both for breakfast and for a refreshing break between meals, smoothies are one of the things I love the most. Luckily, there is a huge amount of juice bars and smoothie places in NYC. Of all places, I have chosen Juice Vitality because, in spite of not being very popular (yet), the place really has he best smoothies. I stopped by at the newly opened spot on 1st Avenue on my first day in NYC, while, after a 9-hour flight, with my luggage in my hand, I was trying to find my Airbnb accommodation in East Village. At that very moment, the delicious smoothie I got in Juice Vitality really made my day. The choice is vast and colorful, but I have the feeling that some ingredients might not be paleo at all, so you might want to check with the guys if they use sugar or other processed juices. They are super nice and will be happy to help; as for me, I chose one with coconut milk and lots of greens and it tasted amazing.