A Philly Foodie’s Guide to Healthy Eating

Don’t let a night at the city’s best restaurants blow your diet. Philadelphia’s top chefs — including Iron Chef Jose Garces — share what to order at their restaurants when you’re watching your weight

It happens every year. You make good on your New Year’s resolution until about two or three weeks into January when you’re starved, literally, for a night out. Well, now you can eat out sans guilt: Seven of our favorite local
chefs assured us that it’s entirely possible to eat at their restaurants
without totally wrecking our New Year’s diets. Here, the lighter — and still
delicious — dishes to order on your next visit. (Want to splurge a little after a great week of workouts? Here are some dishes our food team loves.)

Chifa, 707 Chestnut Street, 215-925-5555, chifarestaurant.com.
Order: Peruvian ceviche, $9.
Why: "Ceviches are deeply flavorful and light enough that you can indulge in them often without feeling guilty,” says chef Jose Garces. “Our Peruvian ceviche, based on a mellow white fish called corvina, is bright and rich, with intense acidity from the pickled pearl onions that makes the fish feel velvety in your mouth. It’s a wonderful treat that isn’t fried or topped with a creamy sauce—and that makes it a great, healthful snack."

Zahav, 237 St. James Place, 215-625-8800, zahavrestaurant.com.
Order: The Galil, $7.
Why: "Kebabs are a great, healthy alternative to braised meats in heavy sauces — they have all of the flavor but far fewer calories and fat,” says chef Michael Solomonov. “I especially recommend our Galil, a skewer of baby eggplant with tehina. It’s got a wealth of taste with plenty of heart-healthy ingredients, including pistachios (the ‘healthiest’ of all nuts) and antioxidant-rich pomegranate."

Lacroix, 210 West Rittenhouse Square, 215-546-9000, lacroixrestaurant.com.
Order: Venison, available on both the a la carte ($46) and tasting menus ($75 for five courses; $95 for eight courses).
Why: “Venison is very high in protein but also very lean,” says chef Jason Cichonski. “Because of the lack of fat, we never cook it over medium-rare, which keeps it moist and delicious without drying it out. The venison on the tasting is accompanied by brussels sprout leaves, chestnut puree flavored with curry, and a light salad made from diced celery root and pickled cantaloupe. It’s a great way to end the tasting menu without killing someone.”

Bindi, 105 South 13th Street, 215-922-6061, bindibyob.com.
Order: Generally, anything with yogurt. Specifically, the chicken tikka masala, $19.
Why: “Yogurt in Indian cooking is a healthy ingredient that is used to tenderize meats, dress salads, or as a garnish in spicy dishes to cool down the palate,” says chef Marcie Turney. “For our chicken tikka masala, the chicken breast is cut into cubes and then marinated for 24 hours in yogurt (which tenderizes the meat), lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste and many spices. It is then roasted in the oven and served over a chickpea-tomato-onion ‘gravy.’ It is garnished with raita (cucumber-yogurt sauce) and kachumber (cucumber, red onion and tomato salad).”

Supper, 926 South Street, 215-592-8180, supperphilly.com.
Order: Striped bass, $16.
Why: “Our menu at Supper is very user friendly for light eaters,” says chef Mitch Prensky. “Many of the plates feature proteins and vegetables, with little or no starch. Our striped bass is pan-roasted in olive oil, and served with mushroom hash, sautéed chard and a light limoncello vinaigrette.”

Buddakan, 325 Chestnut Street, 215-574-9440, buddakan.com.
Order: Sesame crusted tuna, $29.
Why: "The tuna is a lean center cut piece of big eye tuna crusted in sesame seeds and lightly seared in a hot pan," says chef Scott Swiderski. "It is accompanied with a salad made of fresh vegetables and frisee, with grape seed oil and fresh herb dressing."

Pub and Kitchen, 1946 Lombard Street, 215-545-0350, thepubandkitchen.com.
Order: Chicken breast, $18.
Why: "The chicken is cast-iron-seared in olive oil and served over mustard green beans with an Irish soda biscuit," says chef Jonathan McDonald. "The dish contains very little butter, and chicken is a very lean protein." [Healthy Life recommends filling up on the chicken and beans and leaving most of that buttery bisuit behind.]