Editor’s Note: Kentucky, like other Southern states, isn’t particularly known for healthy foods. Our new RFT Contributor, Marcela De Vivo, who writes a great deal about health and healthy eating, brings us the healthier side of Kentucky’s restaurant scene in two of the state’s largest cities.
Healthy eating can be difficult to maintain, especially when faced with the decadent creamy sauces and sodium-laden entrees found at most restaurants. If you’re interested in staying healthy in Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky, look no further! Here are some of the most popular (and delicious) healthy eating spots in those two Southern cities.
Sahara Mediterranean Cuisine (Lexington) is one of the most popular restaurants in Lexington, and for good reason—they serve fresh, authentic, and delicious food. In fact, they’re so popular they often have a line out the door. Waiting for a table may be a drag sometimes, at least you know you’re going to get some good food. It’s also affordable. The lunch special (under $7) is a popular option and comes with a meat (or falafel) entrée, a salad, rice, hummus or baba ganoush and pita bread. Everything is prepared from scratch and they do not use processed meats or vegetables.
Heart and Soy (Louisville) is an environmentally conscious vegetarian restaurant. They make it their mission to be mindful of their impact on the environment. They serve Asian street-cart inspired plant-based food (delicious!) The spring rolls are especially popular. Another plus: they manufacture their own tofu onsite.
Zen Garden (Louisville) is a popular pan-Asian vegetarian restaurant (you probably gathered as much from the name). They pride themselves on fresh and high quality ingredients and that’s reflected in the flavor. Zen Garden is known for their pho (beef noodle soup), udon noodle soup, crispy tofu, and pot-stickers. In addition, Zen Garden also offers a warmly lit interior and an attentive wait staff.
I adore market-adjacent cafés. If you’re also a fan, Good Foods Caféand Market (Lexington), is a healthy option. All their food is organic and, as an added bonus, they have a juice bar. Good Foods is great for a laid-back, casual lunch. All their food, including pizza, sandwiches, sushi and specialty dishes, is served buffet-style. Their sandwiches and seasonal Tilapia are special favorites.
La Que (Louisville) is an Asian restaurant that specializes in vegetarian and vegan-friendly Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Even though it’s easy on the wallet (you can get some appetizers for less than $2), it also has great service. Soft Summer rolls (glass noodles, lettuce, fresh basil and your choice of meat or grilled vegetables, all rolled in rice paper) are, for good reason, one of the most popular dishes.
The Meridian Café (Louisville) operates under the tagline, “There’s nothing else like it,” and many agree it’s the truth. They serve organic foods, including sandwiches, breakfast foods and an assortment of vegan soups, out of a two-story, 1940’s style house. The café itself has a homey, casual vibe that’s great for a lunch date. Popular dishes include everything from the vegan white bean burger to the not-so-vegan steak sandwich.
Banana Leaf (Louisville) is a popular Indian restaurant. They serve many vegetarian dishes. The grilled vegetables served with cream sauce are especially delicious. If you’re not a vegetarian, try the very tasty chicken tikka masala. — Marcela De Vivo, RFT Contributor