My New York City Casual Dining Awards

Red carpet season has officially wrapped—congrats to the big winners The Artist, The Descendants, The Help and Adele! I love the awards show circuit so much that I thought that I’d extend it a bit on my own by celebrating a few of my recent favorite New York City casual food favorites. Whether you’re looking for an side order, entree or dessert, I nominate these items for your consideration!

Best Baked Fries: Energy Kitchen

A typical medium order of fast food French fries packs in about 375 calories and 20 g fat. Luckily for those who are jonesing for some crispy potatoes, Energy Kitchen (motto: “fast food doesn’t have to be fat food”) recently began offering a baked version. The crinkle cut fries are offered in sea salt or cajun (my pick!) and are about 150 calories and 2 g fat per order. I like to pair the cajun fries with the California wrap, but you can’t really go wrong no matter what you pick at this quickly-growing chain. Plus, everything on the menu is less than 500 calories.

Best Soup and Pita Combo: Chickpea

This falafel restaurant also sidesteps the fryers and bakes everything on the menu, which includes Mediterranean favorites like chicken cutlets, kebabs, shawarma and hummus. It’s a goofy reason, but the item that has caused a few return visits to Chickpea is the whole-wheat pita! It’s served warm and is oh-so-fluffy. I could definitely just enjoy a pita on it’s own since it tastes so great, or perhaps spread with hummus, but my favorite way to eat one is as a dunker with a bowl of lentil soup. True, it’s not the most photogenic of meals, but it’s delicious and a very satisfying steal at less than $6 total when paired with a side salad!

Best Healthy Frozen Dessert: The Soft Serve Fruit Co.

Spring is here (knock on wood) and that means we’ll soon be hearing the familiar chorus of ice cream trucks around the city. Of course it’s OK and fun to indulge in a drumstick or cone with sprinkles as a treat! It is nice that the option exists, however, to sneak a bit of nutrition into your dessert. You may have seen the Yonanas machine or spied bloggers making “ice cream” with frozen bananas and The Soft Serve Fruit Co. does something similar and expands your options! Choose your base: mango, apple, strawberry, cranberry, pear or banana and order a plain cup of soft serve, a sundae (pictured) or a smoothie mixed with the frozen dessert. It’s made from only fruit, water and a small amount of organic cane sugar. Sweet!

What is your favorite recent food find? Do you have any suggestions for other healthy NYC restaurants I should check out?

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