An Intro to Low Carb Restaurant Dining

Contrary to popular opinion eating ‘low carb’ does not limit your lifestyle! Get rid of the ideas that all you can eat is broiled chicken and lettuce leaves, that you can’t go out to lunch with your co-workers and that restaurant delivery service is a thing of the past.

Low carb diets afford you the luxury of eating decadent meals, leaving your friends wondering how in the world you can possibly be losing weight while eating like you do.

What other diet allows real cream in your coffee, creamy salad dressings or mounds of cheese in your omelets? Sites like this give you recipes to make and they are more than fit for company (who wouldn’t be wowed by a low carb Chicago style pizza?).

One of the biggest hurdles I faced when first starting to eat low carb was restaurant dining. I missed out on countless lunches and dinners with friends because I didn’t think I could eat Italian, Mexican or Chinese cuisine without ‘blowing’ my diet. I finally found out that I could eat any type of cuisine, and with a little imagination, still remain in ketosis. The following lists some ideas of restaurant dishes that can likely be consumed on a low carb diet.


Try the Carne Asada or Fajitas with a salad. Limit the tortillas to one and you should be in good shape. Enchiladas are also a good choice; just don’t eat all of the tortillas and black beans! Don’t forget, you are encouraged to have the sour cream, cheese and guacamole. Delicious!


Opt for Chicken or Eggplant Parmesan (with extra cheese), hold the breadcrumbs, and a large salad. You’ll be wonderfully stuffed and still able to keto on. But don’t forget to check with the staff on the dressings and sauces, hidden carbs are everywhere.


Chinese food is a little harder, somewhat of a gauntlet at times. A lot of it tends to be sauce heavy, and though traditionally cooked Chinese food is pretty good for carb content, a lot of restaurants tend to bastardize it to be more appealing to the western palate.

My favorites, and I would say I eat these once per two weeks, are Siu Yuk (crispy skin pork), and Char Siu(bbq pork). Char siu is coated in a sweet glaze, but it’s never kicked me out of ketosis.

Cashew Chicken and Mongolian Beef can be OK, but cashews are fairly carb heavy, but they’re also expensive, so many restaurants tend to cheap out there. Mongolian Beef can often involve corn flour in the marinade.

Most non-sweet Chinese dishes can be safely consumed. Just limit your rice – I try to have only one tablespoon of rice, but I eat all of the main dish that I want. Egg drop or Sweet and Sour soups are also a good choice.

Ordering In

When ordering in, just follow the same guidelines you would when eating out. Using a restaurant delivery service allows you to have a ‘cook free’ evening while eating gourmet food in the comfort of your own home, but these services are largely localized in the US for now.

If you’ve got any eating out hacks I’d love to know what they are!

10 comments on “An Intro to Low Carb Restaurant Dining”

  • vicki

    when eating chinese food, i order a beef or chicken chop suey. ask for no sugar in the glaze and hold the baby corn, also no rice. or i order egg foo yung 🙂

  • Alex

    Be careful of egg drop or sweet and sour soup, as they’re often thickened heavily with starch.

    Some other options to consider:
    Mexican – Chicken a la crema, chipotle chicken
    Chinese – Broccoli Beef, or ask for simple modifications like kung pao chicken with light/no peanuts
    At American restaurants there are always obvious choices like the meat dishes, also chef salad, etc.

  • btm

    Most Chinese food meats are coated in corn starch before cooking and will easily knock you out of ketosis, especially if you haven’t been doing it for a long time and aren’t completely adapted. One serving will have way more carbs than you’d expect. Chicken with cashews is one of my all time favorites but unless I only eat a few bites (and who does that?) it wont fit into my keto diet.

  • joeyafro

    Chinese – combination omelette (eggs, bbq pork, chicken) and ask them to add in broccoli instead of onion.
    Mexican – taco salad, just eat one or 2 corn chips. heaps of sour cream and guacamole.

  • joan

    great receipes, thank you. I’m hoping for great results, just have to have willpower. I better have it, or my daughter will be really upset.

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