IMAGE VIA NORTHSTAR CAFE | FACEBOOK
You’ve kicked out dairy, gone against the grains, and left legumes in the dust. You’re probably also a food prep pro — but there are times you’ll either be short a meal or just won’t feel like cooking. Life. It happens.
But just because your diet resembles a caveman’s doesn’t mean your dining experience has to. Keep this menu of paleo-friendly restaurants in the Cap City handy for the days you need to hunt and gather.
Yes, the Italians live and die by pasta and bread, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Stick with the salad side of the menu and top with tasty proteins like salmon, steak, and chicken. Fitt Tip: you can save some cash by skipping the grill items and adding pancetta as a topping. Plus, Piada usually has a seasonal salad with fruits and nuts that you can customize to cut out things like feta and cream-based dressings. Get your fix at one of their 10 restaurants all over the city.
Not in the mood for something cooked? Head to Short North, Grandview, or Easton for a sip of Zest. Here, it’s as raw as it gets, specializing in cold-pressed juices and smoothies without any additives. They have curated a menu of healthy tonics like Charcoal Lemonade and the citrusy Vitamin Cbus. Not a fan of drinking your meals? Try their bowls with heartier raw ingredients like coconut meat and almond butter.
Ever have those days when you feel like you just need a cleanse? Step into Alchemy in South Side or Grandview, where food is medicine and nutrition counselors are part of the staff. In addition to a menu of juices, smoothies, and bowls, Alchemy offers their own cleanses that include 12 eight-ounce bottles of juice per day. Admittedly, the menu’s mix of herbs, veggies, and tonics can be overwhelming — which is probably why they offer online ordering. And, if you’re in the mood for something more filling, stop by their Grandview hangout for a brunch that is sure to gather all the hunters.
Think of Bibibop as Korean Chipotle. Named after a play on the Korean dish “bibimbap,” the Columbus-based chain first opened in August 2013 and has since opened 11 locations in the area. While rice is the base of many bowls, you can opt for bean sprouts or potatoes as your base, add in proteins, and get your fill of toppings like kale, egg and daikon (a potent radish). While you’ll probably need to steer clear of most of the sauces, there’s enough flavor in the bowl that you won’t miss them. Or use your emergency keychain Sriracha.
You may have to do some actual hunting for this mobile kitchen, but when you find Kinetic food truck, you will be rewarded handsomely. You build your own bowl, and you can choose paleo-friendly bases of diced sweet potatoes or leafy greens to line it. Top it with a themed “build” like Cobb or the heat-seeking Scorpion (skip the cheese), and pick your protein to round it out. And for you macro-counters, Kinetic offers a nutritional analysis for all ingredients.
Thank goodness for coconut milk. It opens an entire category of food for those sticking to a paleo diet: curries! Skip the rice and tuck into this creamy Indian stew with your choice of meat and veggies at Aab. You’ll also want to check out the kebabs and tandoori-roasted meats and veggies. Step into an Aab in Bexley, Dublin, or Grandview — all locations offer a lunch buffet (so wear your eating pants).
One of the most popular lunch spots in downtown Columbus, Market 65 is right across from the Ohio Statehouse and near several downtown hotels, keeping legislators and leisurers alike healthy and fed. Load up a create-your-own salad with your choice of over 30 different toppings, all from local farms and ranches. Hey, just because it’s salad doesn’t mean they have to be dainty — beef it up with sirloin steak, salmon, or herb-marinated chicken.
There’s no special menu or substitutions at Cafe Istanbul — the people of the Mediterranean just know their veggies and meat. Toss in a little olive oil and some lemon juice and you have a fresh, tasty meal that, yes, just happens to be paleo. If you’re a purist, you’ll have to skip the hummus, but there’s a lot on the menu to make up for that. You’ll notice a lot of seafood on the menu here. If you’re really feeling adventurous, try the Levrek, aka a grilled whole fish (fins and all). And with three locations in the Columbus area, you can grab a fresh bite wherever you are.
Head to Dublin, New Albany, or Bexley if you’re in the mood for a fresh take on fast-casual dining. The nutrition-centered menu at Freshii lets you customize everything with healthy and the freshest ingredients. We mean, you can even customize the soup! Get ready to fuel up on your favorites like Green Eggs and Kale and a custom salad with your fave paleo-friendly fillings.
You are what you eat, and CoreLife wants you to eat food that makes you, well… feel and look great. Get your fix at Polaris Towne Center or Lennox Town Center for real and fresh whole foods. You’ll want to stick with the Green Bowls, Broth Bowls, and Power Plates or create your own bowl for the ultimate paleo win.
Is it even a CBUS food list if Northstar isn’t on it? We don’t think so, which is why it met our criteria for our paleo friends. While you might have to hold the cheese, their breakfast menu and salad options are sure to satisfy your cravings. Just look at the Sweet Potato and Turkey Hash with two sunny eggs or a Chopped Salad with applewood-smoked turkey, bacon, avocado, almonds, and apples.
With just one location in Columbus (Graceland Shopping Center), this lifestyle-centric cafe is sure to fit your dietary needs. And there’s a good chance you won’t be missing your favorites here, like nachos made with sweet potato chips and loaded with veggies and shredded beef; burgers with lettuce wraps instead of buns; and buffalo cauliflower bites. It should be no surprise that you can build a bowl and build a burger at this “easy to eat healthy” joint. Bonus: while it’s not exactly the same—although pretty dang close—Clean Eatz offers a keto meal plan for those you looking for convenient meal prep.
Short North, Brewery District, and Upper Arlington are offering authentic Thai cuisine at this neighborhood favorite. Whether your dining in, taking out, or ordering delivery, grab your favorite curry dishes here. Basil is taking salads to a new level, too. Go beyond your typical salad with a grilled vegetable salad loaded with onions, bell peppers, Napa cabbage, bok choy, sweet potatoes, and carrots or a Thai Chicken Salad. Fitt Tip: bring your vegan and gluten-free friends, too!
A burger joint that allows you to customize absolutely everything means you can still get your burger fix and stay on track. Choose your patty, choose your bun (hello, collard green wrap), choose your bacon and egg (it’s like they know you’re paleo), choose your cheese (vegan or skip), choose your veggies, choose your sauce… and you should absolutely take a side with that! Short North and Clintonville, here we come!
**Updated by Cait Sirianni, October 2018
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