Sometimes you’re out and about and want to eat. Maybe you’re with the kids and don’t want to hit up the Golden Arches or some other similar crap food joints.
Maybe you don’t want to go to a sit down place, just something quick, inexpensive and relatively healthy and slow-carb friendly.
We know of a few places – Chipotle immediately comes to mind. You can pop in and literally have a 4HB friendly burrito bowl (minus the rice) within about 2.5 minutes.
But I think I have a few new favorite 4HB fast casual restaurants to start hitting up more often.
A – Arby’s
Obviously they’re known for their roast beef sandwiches—but that doesn’t mean you have to eat the bun. They actually have a cool build-a-meal website app that allows you to plan your meal ahead. I like their chopped side salad and angus steak (minus the bun). This is an especially keto friendly style meal because keto allows cheese, and other fats.
B — Burger King
You can’t beat a bunless Whopper salad. Just order the regular Whopper, ask to hold the bun and extra lettuce and tomato. Believe, me done right it’s as good as a bunless Five Guys for about half the price.
C — Chick Fil-A
Here’s another stop that most people can’t help but associate with breaded, high carby foods. But, Chick Fil-A is wise enough to know that they have customers looking for lower carb options. They now have a “lighter meal plans” section of their site, but realistically, the easiest (and honestly tastiest) option is their salads plus their grilled chicken. They have a delicious avocado lime ranch dressing, and for a small fee you can add on a second grilled chicken breast. You can’t beat it.
D — Denny’s
Although Denny’s is typically a sit down joint, if you go with a plan in mind you can order really quickly and get your food very quickly—often within 10 minutes or so. I love the meatlover’s omelet, but if you’re trying to control calories also that can be a gut bomb (at over 1000 kcals). The easiest, safest bet is 2 or 3 eggs over easy or scrambled (NB: ask for “shell eggs” for your scrambled eggs, not the pre-made pre-scrambled eggs), a side of bacon and black coffee. Looking for a little extra fat? add a side of sausage.
E — El Pollo Loco
Basically a Chipotle’s like restaurant with a little more Spanish flavor (in my opinion). You can get a rice bowl (minus the rice) with extra black beans. You can add extra meat (chicken and beef are my go-to), you can add bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and really create a very filling slow carb/keto friendly bowl (minus the beans for keto).
F — Five Guys
My mouth is watering thinking of their burgers. I order a “little” bacon burger, tell them no bun, and add on virtually anything you like. I go with mayo, grilled onions, peppers, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and jalapenos.
NOTE: They will ask if you have an allergy, don’t be a douche and say “yes” unless of course you really do have an allergy. They have to wipe down surfaces, change their gloves, and do a few things to ensure no allergen ends up in your food. If you don’t have an allergy just say “no, I just avoid bread.”
G — Golden Corral
Buffet time! The great thing about Golden Corral is they are heavy on meats and they have a pretty good salad bar. Even at breakfast you can get eggs to order, bacon, sausage, and steaks. If you’re trying to stick to low carb, and especially running a keto-style diet this is a great place to hit up. Just know that if you are counting calories, this could be a no-go.
H — Hardee’s
Another burger joint, another delicious, fatty burger hold the bun. Check out this redditor who was able to create a zero carb dinner (according to the meal planner). Two little thick cheeseburgers (hold the cheese if you’re strict 4HB), lettuce wrap (no bun), mayo. I would add mustard and ketchup, tomato, and pickles. My version would add a few carbs, but would still be great and low carb.
I — IHOP
Let’s get this out there: be careful with their omelets (and I shouldn’t have to tell you to stay away from the pancakes unless it’s your cheat day!). They are famous for adding pancake batter to their omelets—so, similar to Denny’s you can order a few eggs cooked to order, or if you want an omelet ask for their fresh omelets where they make the omelet with fresh cracked eggs (shell eggs). Add meat of choice (beef, bacon, sausage) and veggies to fill it up further.
J — Jason’s Deli
I freaking love Jason’s Deli. There are a few options, they have great chili and white chicken chili bowls. That’s not my go-to though. I almost always get a salad bar. Their salad bar is huge and often has hard boiled eggs, tons of veggies, and some good dressing options (you can always stick to oil and vinegar to stay ultra safe). It’s unlimited too, so you can really get a satisfying meal for a reasonable price.
K — KFC
You’re going to have stay away from their famous fried chicken—but I promise, their grilled chicken is pretty damn good. The seasonings are spot-on and the skin adds a nice crispy touch. I could eat just their grilled chicken with nothing else. But, you could probably add on a side of veggies like green beans. Just be careful with things like cole slaw as their sauces normally have added sugar and can add up.
L — Logan’s Roadhouse
This isn’t a typical quick, grab and go, but I’ve found hitting them for lunch or later (after the typical dinner rush) can get you better service and quicker turn around times. I always get a 6 ounce sirloin cooked medium, steamed veggies (usually broccoli with extra butter) and a side salad. If I’m doing more paleo and not as strict with my carbs, I’ll get a small sweet potato with extra butter. It’s actually a delicious full meal for less than $20. Hard to beat.
M — Moe’s Southwest Grill
I won’t lie to you—for me Moe’s is secondary to Chipotle. Given the option, I would choose Chipotle, but I have three Moe’s near me before I can get to a Chipotle, so out of convenience I’ll hit them up. Similar to Chipotle’s I’ll get a burrito bowl, no rice, black beans, and beef or chicken (or mix). Just beware that they charge extra for avocado and a few other toppings. Here’s where Moe’s shines though: they have awesome salsa’s you can add to your bowl. I love mixing their medium and hotter salsas along with their Moe’s sauce.
N — Nathan’s
There is very little redeeming food at Nathan’s—but you can get a keto friendly hot dog (or two) hold the bun, add chili, jalapeno’s and onions. Mustard rounds out this fatty, low carb dog.
O — On the Border Mexican Grill
On the Border could be a trap restaurant with their chips and salsa and tortilla and rice heavy dishes, but stick to fajitas (hold the tortillas) and ask for extra refried or black beans in place of rice and you’re golden. Also try the Chicken Salsa Fresca which is grilled chicken with salsa on top, swap out rice for extra veggies or black beans add sour cream for some fat, and avacado slices.
P — Panera Bread
Go ahead, guffaw and call me an idiot “the place has ‘bread’ in it’s name, it can’t be slow carb friendly!”—okay, back to the point. Obviously with a name that has a “Bread” in the title, it won’t have the greatest selection of 4HB friendly items. But, it is possible.
My lunch consisted of their low fat veggie black bean soup (I’ve actually always enjoyed this soup) and a Chopped Chicken Cobb salad with avocado – now be careful with the salad dressing on this one. Ask them to go easy on the dressing, put it on the side, or omit it completely.
Q — Qdoba
A fairly safe bet and a good alternative to Chipotle and Moe’s. Here’s a great option a redditor calls “Keto Naked Chicken Burrito”
- Bed of lettuce (no rice or beans)
- Shredded beef and/or chicken and/or ground beef
- Queso sauce
- Roja salsa
- Sour cream
You can build your own and see the macros by using their nutritional calculator
R — Red Robin
I freaking absolutely love Red Robin. Luckily for me though, the nearest one is over 2 hours away. It’s possible to be slow carb/keto at RR but I have a lot of trouble resisting their bottomless fries (just admitting my weakness folks). If that’s you, I would probably avoid the place. If you are okay with avoiding fries, then RR could be a dream come true for you. They have a great lettuce bun that you can customize any burger with in place of bread. That is my go-to even if it’s a cheat day. Add bacon, onions, and avocado and a side of vegetables and you’re all set!
S — Steak ‘n Shake
“Another burger joint?!?” Yes, I’m a meat eating, burger-stuffing-my-face machine. Is there a problem with that? No? Good.
Okay, so at Steak ‘n Shake I rarely do their burgers—truth be told I rarely go to SnS—but when I do it’s for their chili. Chili in a bowl, raw onions, and cheese (if I’m aiming for a more keto approach, no cheese if I’m going strict slow carb). You can add one of their side salads for a little extra fiber/bulk, but not really necessary.
I’ve seen people talk about their breakfast, I’ve not tried them but they sound like they could easily be modified to meet our needs, such as the Cheddar Scrambler, hold the starches and add a side of bacon.
T — Taco Bell
It doesn’t get much faster than “The Bell”…they’ve really tried being the ultra-affordable Chipotle. Get a cantina bowl minus the rice—here’s a recommendation from a Taco Bell manager who understands the keto/low carb struggle:
“[M]anager at Taco Bell, suggested this: two sides of taco beef, two sides of grilled chicken, two sides of shredded cheese, and two sides of pico de gallo all in the same cantina bowl…it’s essentially two mexi-melts and two chicken quesadilla without the tortillas for about five dollars less.”
U — Uno Chicago Pizza
Disclaimer:Let’s be realistic—don’t go to Uno unless you’re a sadomasochist or you have zero say in the place to eat or it’s a cheat day…
That said they have a nutrition calculator that lets you see what’s available ahead of time and gluten free options. They have steaks, chicken, and burgers you could always order and just get extra vegetables. And avert your eyes as your table mates are stuffing cheesy, greasy, delicious Chicago style pizza in their craws…
V — Village Inn Restaurants
Basically an IHOP/HOJO type of place. Lots of pancakes and carby breakfast foods, but you can easily order a breakfast ala carte with 3 eggs, bacon and side of vegetables. Or try their 3 egg omelets and stuff them full of bacon, sausage, and vegetables.
W — Wingstop
What’s better than wings and celery and fatty blue cheese dressing? not much. Just watch the dressings as some of them can be loaded with sugar. Go with traditional hot wing sauce and you should be safe. If you want to try a side, I would go with beans or cole slaw but, just be aware, many chain cole slaws have a good amount of sugar in it. Here’s a great coupon to use at Wingstop.
X — ???
Someone needs to open the next great slow carb/keto friendly “X” named restaurant. I don’t know of any—if you do and you have a great meal you can eat there, please let us know!
Great broiled chicken—almost as good as grilled. Just get a few pieces—I actually prefer legs and thighs, but if you want to stick with the basic you can white meat chicken breast. I’ll add a side salad but hold dressings if I’m trying to be strict, I just don’t trust dressings at restaurants to be lower in sugar.
Z — Zaxby’s
There are about 5 Zaxby’s in a 10 mile radius from my home. They are really good and I enjoy their hot wings but also like their grilled chicken salads. It’s a good low carb/slow carb option for a quick bite out.
There it is—A to Z (minus X) of my favorite slow carb, keto, paleo friendly restaurants around.
What are some of your favorite restaurants that are 4HB/Slow Carb Friendly? If there are some that should be on the list—let us know!