What’s on Senza’s Keto Radar?
Eating out presents one of life’s great challenges when you’re trying to follow a keto way of eating. That’s where Senza’s Keto Radar feature comes in. Simply pull up the map from the main menu of the app, and a list of low-carb items near you appears.
From time to time, we poll the Senza community to discover the most popular keto-friendly menu items to order. Read on for some collective wisdom from our knowledgeable keto crowd:
Have you discovered Cava yet? It's one of the fastest-growing Mediterranean food chains, with nearly 300 locations in the U.S. If you find yourself close to one and wondering what's keto-friendly, we'll give you some guidance here:
- Greens for the base: Skip the lentils and rice but choose any greens you'd like - arugula, spinach, etc. The Cava SplendidGreens blend adds only 1NC to your meal, for example.
- Protein options: Pass on the falafels and roasted vegetables; instead choose braised lamb, grilled chicken, or spicy lamb meatballs.
- Dips and spreads: These range from 1-4NC per order, and you can choose up to three, so you may want to do the math ahead of time before placing your order.
If you're planning to celebrate a special occasion with a surf & turf experience, you can easily stick to your nutrition plan at a place like the Chart House. Order any steak + grilled or steamed fish/shellfish with plenty of olive oil or butter. Ask for sauces on the side, just in case of hidden carbs. Broccoli or other low-carb veggies could complete the meal.
Omelettes are a nutritious and convenient low-carb breakfast to order at many chains, including Cheesecake Factory. Order the Plain Omelette and then choose your toppings. Each of the veggie add-ins here is under 4NC. Choose your favorites and let Senza do the math - breakfast bliss on the keto journey! To find the nutrition facts for your meal, search the Senza Build Your Own library for "omelette build" and it will be oh-so-easy to log and go.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Chipotle is the original keto-friendly restaurant, with cauliflower rice and several meat options for your low-carb burrito bowl. For example, try a base of romaine lettuce with carnitas, Monterey jack cheese, and sour cream for 3NC. Senza has a custom meal constructor that lists nutrition facts for just about every low-carb ingredient on the Chipotle menu. To find it, search in the Senza Food Journal for item = keto bowl, build your own and brand = chipotle
Or, you can always get the nutrition facts for your meal from the Chipotle website and create a private item to log.
Get ready to spice up your life with some Costa Vida goodness! Whether you're in the mood for a keto-style salad or some sizzling fajitas, you've got options here. Just remember, as with any Mexican cuisine, you'll need to skip the rice, beans, and tortillas.
Load up on protein with grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, and carnitas cooked in lard. You can also order the fajita meat, add some guacamole, salsa, and cheese for extra flavor and you've got a keto-friendly meal that's going to be delicious and satisfying.
Keep it simple with plain drip coffee or an americano - hot or iced - then add your own cream (and be sure to log the amount for an accurate NC tally). A latte made from coconut milk or half-n-half (breve) also works. If you want to order a meal, omit the bread. Sorry, no low-carb donuts here, but you can make your own at home!
El Pollo Loco
El Pollo Loco makes it easy to stay keto with four different Fire-Grilled Chicken cuts and a few sides that can complete your meal. Recently, we checked the nutrition facts to calculate the net carbs (NCs) for the restaurant's low-carb sides. Here's what you can expect:
- The Loco Side Salad: 6g NC
- Gravy: 1g NC
- Broccoli: 4g NC
- Coleslaw: 7g NC
- Small Chicken Tortilla Soup without the tortilla strips: 7g NC
- Guacamole without chips: 3g NC
- Queso: 3g NC
Pair these with zero NC in the Fire-Grilled Chicken menu items, and you've got some great options to mix and match.
The bunless burger is always a good choice when eating out. Are you wondering which toppings can work with keto? We like the grilled mushrooms, slice of cheese (any kind), and pickles, of course! Pre-log the steak sauce before adding it to your meal, in case it puts you over your NC limit for the day.
If you're new to keto at In-N-Out, "protein style" just means lettuce-wrapped instead of a bun. In-N-Out does an awesome job at wrapping up your protein-style burger so it doesn't fall apart, even if it can still be a bit messy. Skip the fries and double the protein for better satiety the rest of the day. Keto-friendly toppings here include tomato, onion, lettuce, jalapeños, and pickles.
Jersey Mike's is another popular chain among keto people. You can order a Wedge Chopped Salad without croutons and add dill pickles for 8NC. The Garden Caesar Chopped Salad is another low-carb option. Removing the croutons keeps the NCs at 7g. When ordering salads, remember you can double the meat and cheese for some extra protein and energy. Jersey Mike's has an online nutrition facts calculator, so you can customize each topping and see how the macros add up before you eat. When it's time to log your meal, create a private item under My Food in Senza, and you'll have it ready to log for next time, too.
Surf-n-turf is the way to go at Longhorn Steakhouse: Choose your steak, add some grilled shrimp (+1NC), and maybe a side of asparagus or broccoli (+3-4NC). In the mood for more veggies? The 7-Pepper Sirloin Salad does the trick for only 9NC.
Craving Italian food? We checked up on the menu at Olive Garden and found a few low-carb options like grilled chicken or salmon or a sirloin steak. The house salad works too, if you stick with an oil & vinegar dressing. (Others are loaded with hidden carbs + seed oils.) Always skip the bread, croutons, and pasta when eating at Italian-style places.
Plenty of options here, as long as you avoid all things breaded and skip any potatoes or pasta that come on the side. For example, you might order a ribeye, NY strip, lobster tails, or a Cobb salad with grilled chicken and you'll be quite satisfied with your low-carb meal.
Besides sandwiches, this chain has hearty Cobb, Greek, and Caesar salad options that can fit the keto lifestyle with a few small modifications. Be sure to add steak or chicken, and make sure to skip the croutons, dried fruit, and any candied nuts. You might also double up on the protein for a more satisfying meal.
Most of the dressings are going to contain seed oils, but Green Goddess, Greek, and Caesar will be lowest in NCs. Plain olive oil is an option, too! (Some serious keto'ers bring their own olive oil & vinegar to restaurants to avoid additives and hidden carbs in commercial dressings.)
Avoid the popular Broccoli Cheddar Soup, which contains wheat and a whopping 19NC per serving. If you really are craving a cheesy soup, make a copycat version at home from a recipe like this one, called "Easy Instant Pot Panera Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup" on the Stay Snatched blog.
When eating at BBQ chains, you'll find plenty of excellent protein options - just be careful with the sauces, which often contain shocking amounts of sugar. R&R in Utah has brisket, ribs, pulled pork, Andouille sausage, and chicken thighs on the menu. (Skip the meatloaf, which has breadcrumbs and tops out at 13NC per order.) The hush puppies are no-go, and the coleslaw is sweetened, so think before you eat. And if you must get a salad, skip the croutons, of course!
P.S. R&R's Friggen Hot Sauce, ranch, and blue cheese house dressing are low in carbs and good choices when dining here!
Seafood is a good choice for keto as long as you avoid the breaded options, and skip any pasta that comes on the side. At Red Lobster, the chicken wings, crab legs, side salad with shrimp on top, and shrimp scampi (no noodles) are some great options to try.
Most chains have a way to eat keto, but you may have to get a little - um - creative! At Sonic, you can customize several menu items to fit a low-carb lifestyle. Try ordering a burger or grilled chicken sandwich (if your location offers grilled), only without the bun and wrapped in lettuce instead. Just say, "Can you lettuce-wrap that?" Top it off with avocado or bacon for added flavor and energy.
You might also enjoy a hot dog without the bun and add cheese, jalapeños, or bacon - just be sure to grab a fork and knife.
If you're in the mood for a salad, choose one with extra protein like grilled chicken or steak, and skip the croutons and dried fruit.
Starbucks Coffee Company
Here you can order the ever-popular Iced Flat White - still a trending keto drink in the Senza community. Get it with half heavy cream and half water. Enjoy it plain, with sugar free syrup, or some stevia!
What if you’re in need of a little more sustenance? There are a few keto-friendly snacks on the Starbucks menu: Look for moon cheese, string cheese, egg bites, charcuterie packages, and the packets of almonds usually right by the register. These items are fairly low on carbs while providing some additional protein and generally healthy fats.
Subway pioneered the "sub-in-a-tub" alternative, so you can order any sandwich in a container instead of on a roll. Load up on meat and cheese, add some low-carb vegetables on top if you like, and avoid higher-carb toppings like breadcrumbs and sweet sauces. You can also choose a lettuce wrap, and opt for water or an unsweetened drink to complete your meal.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe
Smoothie shops present a challenge for keto because most are heavy on fruit and sweetened ingredients - and as a general rule, it's best not to drink your calories on a regular basis. But if you're prepared to get creative, you can sometimes come up with an option or two. We studied the menu at Tropical Smoothie Cafe, for example, and invented a couple of custom orders to try:
Go Go Green Delight: Ask for unsweetened almond milk, spinach, avocado, and a sugar-free sweetener. You can also add a scoop of protein powder or nut butter for an extra boost.
Creamy Choco Wonder: Ask for a smoothie with unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk, cocoa powder, almond butter, and a sugar-free sweetener. You can also add a pinch of cinnamon or a dash of vanilla extract for extra flavor.
Estimated nutrition facts for both of these custom orders are provided in the Senza Food Journal. Search with Tropical Smoothie Cafe as the brand, and let us know if you try one of these drinks soon!
With locations in Georgia, the Carolinas, and St. George Utah, Viva Chicken is our new fave for Peruvian cuisine and epically delicious roast chicken (especially after a long desert mountain bike ride). Order the Pollo a la Brasa in 1/4 or 1/2 size, or pulled - or grab a whole chicken for the family. There is steak as well, but that would be missing the point... Be careful with the sides - a house salad works, or the green beans. But mainly, enjoy the chicken!
Don't let road trips derail your progress. With a little planning and smart choices, you can stay keto no matter where you're headed. If Wendy's is your only option, grab a Baconator or Grilled Chicken Sandwich without the bun (you can always double the protein for a bigger meal) or try the Parmesan Chicken Caesar Salad (no croutons). To avoid harmful vegetable oils, consider bringing your own salad dressing along.
Is your favorite keto restaurant missing from our list? Tell us about Nominate additions in the comments below, and if you discover a low-carb menu item worth sharing, we will be happy to spread the word!
Logging Restaurant Meals in Senza
For custom menu items, you can use the Build Your Own feature in the Senza mobile app for keto and fasting. We've made make it easy to select specific ingredients for dozens of common meals, so you can log and go!