Food & Wine

Where to Dine on a Trendy Diet in San Francisco

By Daisy Barringer

Dishes from Wildseed (2000 Union Street), a plant-based restaurant-bar serving healthy alternatives that don’t sacrifice taste.

With a new year (and decade) comes a renewed desire to improve oneself. For many of you making (or breaking) resolutions for 2020, that means jumping on the bandwagon of a trendy, if restrictive, Gwyneth-approved diet. But don’t fret: Cutting carbs doesn’t mean you quit dining out in a food-obsessed city that still pays homage to pasta. We matched five popular diets of the moment with the San Francisco restaurants that (mostly) adhere to them.

Ketogenic (Keto): House of Prime Rib 

Keto, the most popular diet out there right now, is a high-fat, extremely low-carb diet intended to induce your body into a state called ketosis, which burns fat for energy. It’s restrictive in one sense (say so long to bread, sugar and the pleasures they bring), but amazing in another because you’re allowed to eat as much meat, eggs, butter and cheese as you’d like. That makes the House of Prime Rib the perfect place to indulge in well-marbled prime rib that’s been aged for 21 days and is carved table-side. Sure, you’ll have to forgo the potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, but the Van Ness institution serves some of the best (and strongest) gin martinis in town — and that’s absolutely allowed on keto.

Mediterranean: Noosh

This regimen has international cachet, incorporating foods enjoyed in the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. It’s high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats with moderate amounts of dairy and poultry, and little red meat. The latter means you’ll have to have to resist several things on the menu at Noosh, a popular fine-casual restaurant in Pacific Heights that serves eastern Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, but if you stick with the mushroom or chicken kebabs, any of the spreads (like the red pepper muhammara with chubby pita, kale and mushroom Turkish flatbread), plus the Georgian or Lebanese red wine (in moderation, of course), then you’re guaranteed to leave sated and happy.

Paleo: RT Rotisserie

Neanderthals, they’re just like us! Our predecessors from the Paleolithic period actually had some good things going on when it came to their diet. Millennia before Alice Waters launched the farm-to-table craze, these hunter-gatherers were experts in locally sourced cuisine. Turns out that eating the way they did — lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — is actually kind of … healthy? Replicate an ancient menu at RT Rotisserie, a fast-casual restaurant in Hayes Valley and the Western Addition with some of the most flavorful rotisserie chicken in San Francisco. We recommend ordering a whole bird so you have some left over for recipes to make at home. (The seared broccoli is another standout.)

Whole30: Kitava

The Whole30 clean-eating plan might feel harsh, or the realm of sanctimonious Instagram practitioners, but some people swear by it. The rules? Consume nothing but vegetables, fruit, nuts and meat (including poultry and fish) for 30 days. That means no sugar, grains, dairy or booze the entire month. Devotees tout positive results such as clear skin and restful sleep. After a citywide search, we’ve identified the best restaurant for the Whole30 obsessive: Kitava in the Mission. Its menu of health-conscious greens and grains labels which items are Whole30-approved as well as vegan, paleo, low carb and nut-free. Oh, and none of the dishes contain gluten, dairy or refined sugar. What a time to be alive!

Flexitarian: Wildseed

There’s no denying that a meat-based diet is unhealthy not just for the carnivores among us but for the planet as well. Still, a lot of us aren’t ready to go full-on vegan or vegetarian — which is where the flexitarian diet comes in. You don’t have to give up meat; you just have to do your best to swap in plant-based proteins as often as possible (ideally for 15 or more meals per week). If that seems too strict, Wildseed, the new vegan spot on Union Street in Cow Hollow, might change your mind. The menu is filled with options that are fresh, flavorful, hearty and 100 percent plant-based. (Try the Wildseed burger.) Seriously though, if you blind-sampled a dairy- or meatless dish, you probably wouldn’t even notice a difference.

Gluten-Free: Little Gem

A gluten-free lifestyle excludes grains such as wheat, barley, rye, triticale and some-times oats, and is absolutely imperative for those managing celiac disease. Even so, the diet has grown increasingly popular among nonceliac disciples seeking to maximize energy, among other touted benefits. Food and beverages that are naturally gluten-free, like corn tortillas and vodka, are now labeled as such. Dining out, however, is a bigger challenge than perusing your local Whole Foods. A silver lining in a sea of wheat-centric restaurants: Hayes Valley’s Little Gem, where everything, including salmon tartare with crostini and hummus with “non bread,” is gluten-free.

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