Food & Drink

Healthy Dallas Restaurants That Don't Suck

Published On 07/19/2016 Published On 07/19/2016
huevos rancheros
HG Suply Co. | Kathryn Kemp

To the casual observer, Dallas might seem like the land of chicken fried steaks, barbecue, and burgers. While we own that gastronomic greatness with pride, our city has also in recent years welcomed a good many restaurants focused on whole foods, local, fresh, and veggie-forward menus. Dallas diners -- not just of the vegan and vegetarian variety -- have embraced this health-conscious movement heartily, from fast-casual stops like Unleavened Fresh Kitchen, to restaurants with vast offerings of good-for-you eats, like Mudhen. Here are 10 places to explore the healthier side of great dining in Dallas.

HP Sply Co.

HG Sply Co.

Lower Greenville

This lively spot with rustic touches and an incredible rooftop made its name with minimalist build-your-own bowls mixing proteins and veggies. Now you'll find as many diners crushing a plate of cochinita nachos or a kobe beef burger as you will those eating a stir-fry or kale Caesar. One thing they all can agree on? The greatness of HG's craft cocktail program, which highlights seasonal elements along with the menu.

Goji Cafe

North Dallas

The stated mission of this low-key North Dallas eatery is to create amazing vegan Asian entrees, and if the rahs and raves of its regulars are any indication, it's succeeding. Kung pao tofu, Vietnamese vermicelli bowls, and zucchini pho reflect the menu's span all across Asia for culinary inspiration. And even plates like shaken "beef" and lemongrass noodles will have non-vegans swooning.

Kevin Marple

Start

Lower Greenville and Lemmon Ave

Like manna from healthy-food heaven, Start descended on Dallas to provide a healthier, but just as speedy, alternative to fast food -- behold its drive-through window! Instead of chicken-esque nuggets and deep-fried everything, however, the menu -- spanning breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- features free-range, grass-fed burgers, egg-white burritos, wraps, and salads, among other better-for-you brilliance.

Courtesy of Green House Market

Green House Market

North Dallas

The extensive selection of sweets and baked goods on display at this spare, minimalist outpost should tell you Green House, while skewing towards healthy, still knows how to let loose. It is, after all, serving up health-conscious fare at a mall. Vegetable-forward (though not solely vegetarian) sandwiches, salads, and stir-fries starring locally sourced goods dominate the menu, with fruit and veggie juices and those aforementioned sweets on hand to top things off.

The GEM

North Dallas

A local favorite for its long list of juice blends and smoothies that can be kicked up with everything from hemp seed to bee pollen and ginger, GEM's cheery storefront also turns out from-scratch lunches made in-house. Soups can be eaten hot or picked up cold on the go, and salads feature a range of super-food superstars like dandelion, kale, and quinoa.

Company Cafe

Company Cafe & Bar

Lower Greenville

Company Cafe draws out neighborhood regulars happy to chow down grass-fed chicken-fried steak, sandwiches with gluten-free buns, and vegan bowls. Eat well now, then return for brunch with the B.E.A.T. (bacon, eggs, avocado, and toast) and the Johnny Rooster fried chicken and pancake plate enticing diners back for more.

Spiral Diner & Bakery

Oak Cliff

Vegans and carnivores alike craving meat-free takes on classic comfort foods flock to this vegan restaurant's Dallas and Fort Worth hubs. The kitchen goes all-out in re-creating mac & cheese, queso, burgers, and even the occasional poutine for palates that avoid meat. Brunch is popular, thanks to tofu scrambles and pancakes, and the vegan dessert program is nearly legend.

Mudhen Meat and Greens

Mudhen Meat & Greens

Downtown

Coming from the team behind the winged creature-themed duo of the Meddlesome Moth and Bird Cafe, Mudhen drew high expectations in dishing out a farmers market-heavy menu, and it's largely succeeded. Talk about fresh: if your favorite vegetable isn't checkmarked on the chalkboard of produce, it ain't available that day. Luckily, you have plates like the Iron Man Reuben, the pork plantain poutine, and a slew of garden-themed cocktails to console you. The B.Y.O.B. (build your own bowl) is an easy way to get a taste of numerous kitchen specialties.

Freshii

Victory Park (& other locations)

If picking from a huge choice of thoughtfully sourced proteins and vegetables to dream up a bowl, salad, or wrap isn't enough of a healthy-eats fantasy, know that Freshii also specializes in fruit-studded yogurt and freshly pressed juices made to order, and nurtures an eco-friendly mien, too. That means the chain's biodegradable packaging is made from vegetables, and that it designs its stores with an eye toward being smaller than average to save energy.

Kevin Marple

Unleavened Fresh Kitchen

Lakewood

This bright, clean-lined storefront in Lakewood is co-owned by a chef, as proven by the fine-tuned menu of wraps and salads. You can order any lunch or dinner item as a salad or wrap, with the latter available in gluten-free form. Stuffings run the gamut from buttermilk fried chicken, pepper bacon, and Boursin spread (Weekender), to veggie sausage, garden sprouts, tomato, and avocado (Market Offer). Breakfast items like granola, acai bowls, and quinoa porridge round out the menu.

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Farah Fleurima is a Dallas-based food & travel freelance writer who also considers herself a thoughtfully sourced protein. Dig in to her meaty musings at The Dallas Diva and on Twitter at @TheDallasDiva.

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1. HG Sply Co. 2008 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75206 (Lower Greenville)

This East Dallas hotspot has come to define the new era of Lower Greenville hotspots, with its carefully crafted food and drink, not to mention its extensive rooftop bar area and sweeping skyline views of Downtown. Paleo-inspired New American grub is what's on offer (think Tex Mex grain bowls, zucchini "pasta" with roasted eggplant, and cauliflower-cashew "grits"), but don't think that just because its "health conscious" doesn't mean it's not delicious.

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2. Goji Cafe 2330 Royal Ln #900, Dallas, TX 75229 (North Dallas)

The delectable Asian inspired vegan fare (vermicelli bowls, stir frys, and noodle dishes) at Goji Cafe is worth making the trek for. This no-frills North Dallas eatery serves satisfying pan-Asian dishes that are affordable and healthy without sacrificing flavor. Kung pao tofu, Vietnamese vermicelli bowls, and zucchini pho are menu standouts.

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3. Start 4814 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75206 (Lower Greenville)

Start is intent on maturing the fast-food industry by providing "real food fast", with menu items like a cheddar/goat cheese/baked chicken whole-wheat empanada slathered in cilantro cream sauce, instead of your standard issue drive-thru fare. The menu -- spanning breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- features free-range, grass-fed burgers, egg-white burritos, wraps, and salads, among other better-for-you brilliance. Also included on the menu is wine, local craft beers, and organic, fair-trade coffee.

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4. Green House Market 8687 N Central Expy, Dallas, TX 75225 (North Dallas)

This bright and airy eatery in NorthPark Center offers health conscious fare that'll keep you going through breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu runs the gamut from fresh pressed panini sandwiches, vegetable stir frys, market salads, and entree plates served with your choice of two sides. Dine in or stock up on pre-made options to go.

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5. The Gem 6030 Luther Ln, Dallas, TX 75225 (North Dallas)

This friendly North Dallas health food cafe is cranking out fresh pressed juices and smoothies on the daily. Get your fix and load up on beverages featuring everything from hemp seed to bee pollen and ginger inside Gem's cheery storefront. The cafe also serves lunch plates like chopped salads and soups.

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6. Company Cafe 2217 Greenville Avenue, Dallas, TX 75206 (Lower Greenville)

Lower Greenvile's Company Cafe and Bar scores with healthy comfort food that runs the gamut from breakfast fare like cage-free omelettes topped with various farm-fresh cheeses, to hearty meat options including the generously portioned B.E.A.T with bacon, eggs, avocado, and toast. The restaurant's cozy and casual digs make it a solid spot to stop by for brunch, a brew, or a snack.

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7. Spiral Diner & Bakery 1101 N Beckley Ave, Dallas, TX 75203 (Oak Cliff)

Spiral's menu is full of things that vegans and carnivores alike will crave. The kitchen goes all-out in re-creating healthy versions of comfort food faves like mac & cheese, queso, burgers, Philly cheesesteak and even the occasional poutine. Both the Dallas and Fort Worth locations are popular brunch hotspots so line up early on a weekend.

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8. Mudhen Meat and Greens 900 S Harwood St, Dallas, TX 75201 (Downtown)

Easily one of the biggest patios in town, Mudhen’s Dowtown space is decked out with garden decor, and the menu's chock full of appealing brunch options that'll satisfy during the outdoor-lounging season (every season in Texas?). The eatery's menu, which is on the healthy side, features fresh and produce-filled cocktails. Down a bell pepper-adorned Lakenvelder or a lemongrass-y Plymouth Rock on the patio, or even get your drink whipped up with house-made stevia syrup.

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9. Freshii 1321 Commerce Street, Dallas, TX 75202 (Downtown)

With locations across Dallas, Freshii's got you covered with all of the healthy staples you crave around the clock. From build-your-own yogurt bowls and oatmeal for breakfast, to burritos, rice bowls and salads and wraps for lunch, there are plenty of options in store to keep you full and satisfied all day long. Freshly pressed juices made to order are also available.

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10. Unleavened Fresh Kitchen 1900 Abrams Pkwy, Dallas, TX 75214 (Lakewood)

This neighborhood spot in Lakewood is serving health-conscious, fast casual eats in a bright and cheery storefront. Breakfast and brunch are standouts (be sure to order the Dagwood with bacon, arugula and shaved cheddar, on your choice of a wrap or served with potato hash) but lunch isn't half bad either with plenty of chopped salads, wraps, and grilled flatbreads to choose from.

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