17 Low-Carb Restaurants: How to Order Keto When Dining Out
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17 Low-Carb Restaurants: How to Order Keto When Dining Out

Stressed about dining out on the keto diet? This guide offers the top tips to navigate low-carb restaurants and what to order to keep your health on track.

Low carb restaurants

What are the best low-carb restaurants? To be perfectly frank, restaurants that are exclusively low-carb don’t exist.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to menu-hack your favorite restaurants so you can stay in ketosis and still have a social life.

This guide uses nutritional information from the most popular national chains to sleuth out the best keto options spanning several categories.

Follow the tips in this guide and these popular chain eateries can become your go-to low-carb restaurants. 

Basics of Dining Out on Keto

While the easiest way of sticking to a ketogenic diet involves meal planning and cooking your own food, you don’t have to cook every meal to lose weight. Learn these rules, and you’ll be equipped to stay in ketosis during a night on the town.

Always Do Your Homework

Many restaurants now print calories on their menus, but that doesn’t necessarily help you count carbs. Before you head out, check the restaurant’s website for their nutritional information so you’re not ambushed by their potential lack of options.

Try to have a backup choice in case a specific menu item isn’t available. Use this easy keto calculator so you always know your macros.

Learn These Menu Hacks

If there’s nothing on the menu close to being keto-friendly, you can always get creative. For example:

  • Hold the bun/bread: Order any sandwich or burger without the bun or bread to save obvious carbs.
  • Skip the sauces: For example, you’ll save three grams of carbs per packet of ketchup.
  • Go green: You can usually order entrees with an appetizer salad or a side salad instead of carb-filled options like french fries or pasta.
  • Caesar Salad: When it doubt, get Caesar salad. Almost every restaurant has some form of a Caesar salad on the menu. As long as you add a healthy protein and hold the croutons, your plate should have more fat than carbs.

Don’t Be Embarrassed by Your Restrictions

Most restaurants are willing to accommodate your dietary restrictions and preferences (i.e., low-sugar and fewer carbs). Nicely ask your server for their best meal recommendations, and you may find yourself with a tasty secret menu item that checks all your keto boxes.

And remember — if that basket of dinner rolls or tortilla chips is too tempting, you can always ask your server to remove them. Now, it’s time to discover the keto-friendly meals of low-carb restaurants and what to order at 17 popular mainstream eateries.

Breakfast

Whether it’s the first meal of your day or the last one after a long night out, breakfast or brinner is always a good choice on keto. That’s because staples like eggs, bacon, sausage, cheese, and butter are all keto-friendly.

As long as you ignore temptations like biscuits, fruit, grits, hash browns, pancakes, and waffles, you’ll be in the clear.

#1. IHOP

Though this breakfast and pancake chain isn’t exactly among the most obvious low-carb restaurants, IHOP shines in the build-your-own omelet department.

What to Order

Start with a plain omelet and let your creativity run wild (and within your carb macro, of course):

IHOP keto-friendly menu options

If you’re not craving an omelet, you can always order a la carte with these keto-safe breakfast alternatives:

Low-carb restaurants: IHOP keto options

#2. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

This home of Southern charm, fluffy biscuits, country fried steak and chicken n’ dumplings all sounds like a carb nightmare. But when you take a closer look, you’ll find keto-friendly meals for both the morning and evening hours.

What to Order[*]

Choose from breakfast staples like these:

Low carb restaurants: Cracker Barrel breakfast options

Or meet up for lunch or dinner and order these entrees:

Low-carb restaurants: Cracker Barrel protein options

Unlike mashed potatoes and mac and cheese, these country-style side dishes are more keto-friendly:

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store vegetables and sides

Seafood

As a rule of thumb, most seafood has a low carb-protein ratio. The trick is how the fish is cooked — and which side you choose.

Avoid anything battered and fried. Stick to fish or crustaceans that are steamed, broiled, sauteed, or grilled. Be wary of blackening seasonings, as these can contain hidden carbs like flour, breadcrumbs, or cornstarch.

#3. Red Lobster

If you can avoid the cheddar biscuits, Red Lobster can be part of a low-carb diet.

On the fresh fish menu, you’ll find snapper, cod, flounder, grouper, and many other sea proteins clocking in less than 3 grams of carbs per serving[*].

Then, there’s always a classic Caesar salad, to which you can add chicken, salmon, or shrimp. Remember to ditch the croutons (they add 14 grams of carbs)[*].

What to Order[*]

Any of the choices below are great low-carb meal options too:

Low-carb restaurants: Red Lobster menu options

For dipping, stay away from the cocktail sauce with 11 grams of net carbs[*] and tartar sauce with 4 grams carbs[*]. Stick to carb-free melted butter[*].

#4. Bonefish Grill

Born of a love of catching and cooking fresh, local fish, you’ll find simple, seasonal food at this south Florida chain. And lucky for you, both surf and turf keto choices abound.

What to Order[*]

Step one: Pick a grilled fish (or seafood item) you’re fond of, such as:

Low-carb restaurants: Bonefish Grill protein nutrition chart

Step two: Add one of these semi-guilt-free toppings:

Low carb restaurants: Bonefish Grill toppings

Step three: Choose your low-carb side, and enjoy these:

Bonefish Grill vegetable options

What if you’re not feeling like fish? You can also choose steak or pork:

Bonefish Grill steak and pork options

Steak

Dining at a steakhouse is like going to an amusement park when you’re on a ketogenic diet. Every cut of meat is a front-row seat on your favorite ride — even those fatty cuts most people ignore.

The trick is avoiding the carb quicksand of potato sides, warm bread on the table, and sugar-bomb desserts. Instead, scope out classic low-carb options like:

  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Side salad or Ceasar salad
  • Green beans

#5. LongHorn Steakhouse

This casual spot is known for its tender cuts of meat, grilled salmon, and flavorful chicken options. Just don’t fall for the sugary margaritas.

What to Order[*]

You’ll find different cuts of steak in a plethora of sizes. This is only a sample of the most popular choices:

Low-carb restaurants: Longhorn Steakhouse keto options

You’ll want to take it easy when it comes to add-ons and sides here:

Low carb restaurants: Longhorn Steakhouse sides

Can’t decide between two options? Go for one of these pairings:

Longhorn Steakhouse menu items

You can also opt for chicken, pork, and salmon if you’re not a steak person:

Longhorn Steakhouse chicken options

#6. Outback Steakhouse

Though not an Australian chain officially, keto dieters can get their fix of surf and turf at this Australian themed eatery without destroying their weight-loss goals.

No, the Bloomin’ Onion did not make the list — it’s a whopping 109 grams of net carbs[*].

What to Order[*]

Steak, glorious steak (and pork):

Low-carb restaurants: Outback Steakhouse meat nutrition facts

Top your steak (or pork) with these add-ons and pair it with a low-carb side:

Low-carb sides at Outback Steakhouse

You can have it all with these surf ‘n turf entrees:

Low-carb restaurants: Outback Steakhouse surf 'n' turf options

Add a side salad and choose from these dressings:

Outback Steakhouse dressing options

#7. Texas Roadhouse

Family-fun and Western-themed, you’ll find hand-cut steaks, ribs, and sides to feed your whole entourage here — keto or not.

What to Order[*]

The star of this low-carb rodeo is steak:

Low-carb steaks at Texas Roadhouse

You can top that steak with one of these add-ons and also pick a side:

Texas Roadhouse sides

Just be careful here. Sauteed mushrooms as a topper? Cool. Sauteed mushrooms as a side? 18 grams of net carbs[*].

You can also chow down on a salad. However, salads here are listed with croutons. The actual net carbs will be less when you skip these:

Low-carb restaurants: Texas Roadhouse nutrition chart

Or choose among chicken, pork, and salmon:

Chicken, pork, and salmon options at Texas Roadhouse

You can also avoid a tough decision by ordering a combo:

Low carb restaurants: Texas Roadhouse

Just one tablespoon of Texas Roadhouse® Steak Sauce has 6 grams[*], so you can skip it.

Italian

There’s more to Italian cuisine than pasta, pizza, and gelato.

At any given Italian restaurant you can find that low-carb standby Caesar salad. But you may also score a selection of charcuterie filled with fatty olives, cheeses like provolone and mozzarella, and meats like salami and pepperoni. Here are some low-carb restaurants where you can satisfy your Italian and pizza cravings.

#8. Carrabba’s Italian Grill

Based on traditional Italian recipes passed down for generations, Carrabba’s has the largest selection of keto-friendly menu options of all three Italian chains on this list.

What to Order[*]

Start with or share one of these small plates or appetizers:

Low carb restaurants: Keto options at Carrabba's Italian Grill

Then, check out this selection of entrees:

Low-carb restaurants: Carrabba's Italian Grill

Or go with Tuscan style steak or pork:

Low carb restaurants: Carrabba's Grill pork and beef

Top your steak or pork with:

Carrabba's Italian Grill toppings

Finally, pick up a side salad or one of these lower-carb veggies that fit in your macros:

Carrabba's Italian Grill keto picks

You can also go with an entree salad:

Low-carb restaurants: Carrabba's Italian Grill salad nutritional chart

#9. California Pizza Kitchen

If you’re hoping to find a slice of pizza on this list, you’re in for a bad time.

One slice of crispy thin pizza here will cost you 19 grams of net carbs[*]. Even a slice of their cauliflower crust pizza will set you back 13 grams of carbs[*]. This seems a high carb-price. So, when dining at this West Coast establishment, it’s a salad or nothing.

What to Order[*]

Half salads and lunch salads need tweaking (ask for no croutons), but they can work when you’re famished at the mall:

California Pizza Kitchen salads

You can always boost the nutritional content of these salads with protein-and-fat-rich toppings and dressings, such as:

Low -carb restaurants: California Pizza Kitchen

#10. Olive Garden

Though it may be hard to ignore the unlimited breadsticks and never-ending pasta bowls, keto dieters still have options.

What to Order[*]

If you’re into their “famous house salad,” the good news is you can enjoy it on keto:

Olive Garden salad additions

But if you want something with more protein, you’ll do better with one of these entrees and sides:

Olive Garden keto selections

Mexican

You can bypass all tortilla-centric dishes and savor the burrito flavors without losing sight of your keto goals. Remember, most restaurants have carb-free meat options like beef, chicken, pork, and seafood. Just politely ask to swap the tortilla for a bed of salad. 

If the guacamole doesn’t include high-carb beans or veggies, you’re golden there as well. Take it easy on the salsa, as tomatoes and onions can add carbs quickly.

These two quick Mexican spots are ultra manageable on keto.

#11. Chipotle

As you read in the keto fast-food guide, Chipotle is your friend on keto when you stick to salads and skip the rice, beans, and tortillas.

What to Order[*]

Start with a salad bowl, choose your protein, and add your toppings (add avocado for the healthy fats) according to your macro allowance:

Low-carb restaurants: Chipotle nutrition facts

#12. Moe’s Southwest Grill

Similar to Chipotle, your low-carb choice here is a salad. But you have way more options for salad toppings here than you do at Chipotle, which may be a good or bad thing for your macros.

What to Order[*]

Ditch the carb-filled salad bowl and choose romaine lettuce and one or more protein choice:

Low-carb restaurants: Moe's Southwest Grill nutrition chart

Then, add whatever you like. Keep in mind, these carbs add up fast:

Moe's Southwest Grill extras

Date Night Faves

Date night on keto doesn’t have to feel any more awkward than a normal date night. These keto-safe restaurants will help you steer the conversation away from your diet and back to each other.

#13. The Capital Grille

Treat yourself and your date to dry-aged steaks that are hand-carved onsite. Though the wine list has over 350 options, just remember you’ll add 2-4 grams of carbs per glass if you partake.

What to Order[*]

Break the ice and set the food mood by sharing one of these appetizers or snacks:

Low-carb restaurants: The Capital Grille appetizers

You can then choose one of these keto chef’s picks:

Keto picks at The Capital Grille

Or one of these keto-friendly entrees:

Low-carb restaurants: The Capital Grille proteins

And don’t forget that each side serves two, so they’re perfect for sharing. Each serving will set you back:

Low carb restaurants: The Capital Grille veggies

#14. Seasons 52

With their emphasis on local, seasonal cuisine and their cozy atmosphere, you’ll feel both special and at home at Seasons 52.

What to Order[*]

Stop by during happy hour to snack on:

Seasons 52 happy hour

Or go with one of these entrees and sides:

Low-carb restaurants: 52 Seasons

Game Day Hangouts

Beer, french fries, and bar food don’t make many keto-friendly lists. But if you stick to bunless burgers, salads, and grilled chicken sandwiches without bread, you can still cheer on your favorite teams alongside your buds.

Wings are also safe on keto — provided they’re not battered or smothered in sticky sweet sauces.

These three neighborhood hangouts have keto food options for every fan.

#15. Yard House

Diners love the food, fun tunes, and loads of TVs at Yard House. Even though you’ll find the world’s largest selection of draft beer for a restaurant offering so much food, you’ll want to stick to carb-free alcohol choices like vodka, tequila, and whiskey.

What to Order[*]

While you’re sipping and cheering, pick up a snack or small plate such as:

Low carb restaurants: Yard House appetizers and salads

Now here’s an interesting fact about Yard House: They have a gluten-sensitive (GS) menu you can keto-hack[*].

For example, all GS grilled burgers and sandwiches come wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun.

Low-carb restaurants: Yard House burgers and sandwiches

Instead of sides like fries, you’ll be offered a mixed greens salad tossed in balsamic dressing or one of these dressings:

Yard House dressings

You can also sub out the salad for veggies with a bit more fiber:

Yard House veggie nutrition info

#16. Buffalo Wild Wings

Sports fans flock to Buffalo Wild Wings for their signature wings and specialty sauces. The biggest keto rule to remember with wings is always choosing traditional over boneless or breaded varieties.

A medium boneless wings order here weighs in at 123 grams of carbs[*]. But a medium-sized order of traditional wings has 0 grams of carbs[*]. That’s a huge difference, not to mention protein goes from 78 grams in boneless wings to 125 grams in traditional ones[*].

What to Order[*]

You can order wings in snack, small, medium, and large sizes without sauce, and the carb count doesn’t change (although fat and protein macros do):

Low-carb restaurants: Macros for Buffalo Wild Wings

As you increase the number of wings in your order, the carb counts for the wet sauces also increase. Here are the macros for a serving of sauce in a medium-size wing order:

Buffalo Wild Wings sauces

You can also skip the wet sauce for your wings. Go for a dry rub to shave off a few carbs and a whole lot of calories in comparison:

Low carb restaurants

Accompany those wings with your favorite dressing and crunchy veggie:

Buffalo Wild Wings sauce and veggie calories

When hunger demands more than wings, choose a bunless burger or grilled chicken breast with these toppings:

Low-carb restaurants: Buffalo Wild Wings

#17. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

This family-friendly pizza and beer haven doesn’t have to scare keto dieters. When everyone meets to toss back a few, you can order these keto-friendly meal options:

What to Order[*]

Start with appetizers like:

Nutritional info for BJ's

And salad and dressings such as:

Low carb restaurants: BJ's Restaurant & Brewery

Every brewhouse offers a dynamite burger, but you’ll need to go bunless. These additions should more than make up for tossing the bun:

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse nutrition

And if you’re feeding a dinner-sized hunger, entrees and sides like these will set you right:

Low carb restaurants: BJ's Brewery

Enjoy Eating at Low-Carb Restaurants

With this guide of the best keto-friendly meals at the most popular low-carb restaurants, there’s no reason to feel like a hermit while you steadily chip away at your body goals.

Bookmark this guide and you’ll always know what to order when you go out to eat. You’ll never be tempted to cheat on keto or worry about your ketogenic diet getting in the way of your social life again.

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