The Primal Blueprint Guide to Dining Out

Primal living in a decidedly modern world is mostly awesome, but there are difficult moments we’ve all faced. Things like having to explain the jar of coconut oil and greasy spoon we keep at our office desks, or facing the strange looks we get when doing lunges down the street, pull-ups on tree branches, box jumps on park benches, and overhead presses with our pre-adolescent children – those little moments where you and everyone around you suddenly realize that maybe you’re just slightly different from the “norm.” A bit off, as it were. Of course, we often pride ourselves on our individualism, on our constant skepticism of Conventional Wisdom (especially diet- and fitness-related). If I wasn’t different (or at least willing to consider alternative viewpoints), I might never have questioned the bread-and-ice-cream-fueled chronic cardio way of life that was killing me. If you guys weren’t inherent skeptics, you probably never would have found your way to my blog. If a guy like Sterling scoffed at the supposed preposterousness of eating fat to lose fat, he’d probably still be unhealthy.

So we see that embracing our weirdness is what makes all this possible. You might even say that we have a healthy appreciation for going off the beaten path (actually, the path enjoyed quite a bit of traffic for hundreds of thousands of years, but it’s only recently that it was largely abandoned and the brush allowed to flourish and cover it all up; luckily, we’re armed with razor sharp machetes and dusty old maps).

Sometimes, though, we’re forced to stay on the trail. Sometimes, social obligation requires us to eat at less than appetizing locales. Maybe it’s hitting the local happy hour with co-workers on a Friday or going out to eat at a chain restaurant with family from out of town – whatever the occasion, when we’re stuck in an unfamiliar or unpalatable culinary situation, there are ways to mitigate the potential damage and still remain relatively Primal. Almost any restaurant will have something for you to eat, even if it wasn’t raised in pasture or cooked in healthy fats. Just because the food isn’t ideal doesn’t mean you should order the Awesome Blossom, a large Coke, and a burger and fries. There are alternatives.

  1. Avoid eating out. I’m kinda kidding, but it goes without saying that eating out at chain restaurants on a regular basis probably isn’t a good idea.
  2. Lobby for restaurant-picking powers. If you’re deigning to eat out, the least your companions can do is let you pick the place. Pro-tip: don’t use the word “deign” when trying to pick the restaurant.
  3. Don’t eat. Treat this as an Intermittent Fasting day. If you need visualization, imagine Grok happening across a rotting, stinking carcass. Doesn’t sound so different from most restaurant fare to me.
  4. Be a super modern forager. Scan the menu for anything that might work. If you’re eating Mexican, get the fajitas and lose the rice, beans, and tortillas while upping the veggies, meat, and guacamole.
  5. Make special requests. Yep, you’re gonna have to “be that guy” who customizes his order so much that the final product is completely unrecognizable from the original. Expect eye rolls and audible sighs, but those are a small price to pay for eating right. You can always claim gluten-intolerance or various food allergies if you want to avoid the hassle; they can’t ignore you then.
  6. Remember the 80/20 principle. Think of this as your “20.” As long as you’ve been eating and exercising right consistently, one random meal isn’t going to throw you off. Besides, you’ll probably wake up regretting it and will be even more strict with the food and the workouts.
  7. Make substitutions. All restaurants have vegetables. Most of them will be happy to swap out the starchy foods like rice, bread, or potatoes for steamed or grilled veggies.
  8. Get stuff on the side. For sauces and dressings of indeterminate origin, ask for them on the side. That way you can control their distribution rather than letting the cook slather your food with it.

Some restaurants are more amenable than others. Fast food burger joints, for example, will usually give you the meat surrounded by lettuce instead of bun, and you can always skip the fries. A Brazilian churrascaria, with its heaping platters of meat, sausage, and salad, is perhaps the most Primal restaurant of all – you won’t have any trouble at one of these. But at a pasta house, unless you can convince the waiter to replace the noodles with vegetables, you might have trouble finding something to eat. And dinner at a vegetarian or a raw vegan restaurant will probably be the day you try IF.

Chain Restaurants

What about chain restaurants? These are (rightly) vilified by the Primal set for being bland disseminators of industrial crap masquerading as food, but are there any hidden gems? Okay, maybe “gems” is the wrong word, but there are definitely a few items on the menus that won’t derail your progress entirely.

McDonald’s/Carl’s Jr./Fast Food Burger Joints

Ubiquitous in just about every city in America (and possibly even globally), McDonald’s remains popular. Now, I imagine you haven’t stepped foot in one for years, but there may come a time where you’re faced with the prospect of eating here. If all your other options are exhausted, the best bet is to go for one of the burgers, sans bun. From what I understand, McDonald’s microwaves most of their meat products, but they do grill the Angus Third Pounders, so go for one of those. The data for the Angus Deluxe Third Pounder:

Fat: 41g
SFA: 17g
Trans fat: 2g
Carbs: 62g
Protein: 42g

You can nix most of the carbs by removing the bun. There’ll still be a few left over, but that’s just from the tomato and onion (real food). The trans fat is worrisome and should be avoided. Hopefully, the mayo (probably made from soybean oil) and the processed American cheese product are responsible for it, as those can easily be removed. If they grill the meat in hydrogenated oil, you’re out of luck and will just have to suck it up. It’s not perfect, but you could do a whole lot worse at McDonald’s. Other fast food burger places, like Carl’s Jr. or Wendy’s can probably do the same bun-less burger deal. For you west coasters, In-n-Out makes a great “protein style” bun-less burger.

TGI Friday’s/Applebee’s/Chili’s/etc.

Is there really any difference between these restaurants? They all serve burgers, ribs, salads, sandwiches, and pasta, along with lots of deep-fried and heavily-battered appetizers, and it’s all pretty bland, forgettable stuff. Still, they do have a good happy hour, and they’re pretty popular, so you may find yourself stuck at one with friends or coworkers with your stomach rumbling. Bun-less burgers are an option, of course, as are the salads. If you get a salad, hold the croutons and get the dressing on the side. Unfortunately, chain restaurant salad dressings are usually rife with sugar and industrial vegetable oils (high in Omega 6s), so there aren’t any fantastic options. If you’re lucky, they’ll have olive oil and vinegar on the premises and you can simply make your own. I usually opt for whatever cut of steak they have on the menu. Sure, it ain’t grass-fed or organic, but it is meat, and you can usually request they cook it in butter (rather than corn oil). Skip the mashed potatoes or fries for mixed veggies, and you’re good to go. I couldn’t find any specific data for steak from any of these restaurants, but FitDay says a 10 oz lean sirloin steak looks something like this:

Fat: 31g
SFA: 11g
PUFA: 4g
MUFA: 13g
Carbs: 0g
Protein: 92g

Add some more fat if they honor your request to cook it in butter, along with a few more carbs from the veggies, and you’re looking at a decent meal.

Olive Garden

A carb-lovers paradise, Olive Garden is actually a decent pick for Primal eaters. You obviously won’t be ordering the pasta, but the smattering of grilled items, plus the endless salad bowl, make eating here definitely doable. They even have a low-carb menu, which was a complete surprise. There’s the 14 oz Steak Toscano, cooked in olive oil and served with broccoli and mixed veggies; the Mixed Grill, which consists of skewers of chicken and steak with zucchini and broccoli; the Herb-Grilled Salmon, brushed with olive oil and served with broccoli; the mussels served with a wine, garlic, and onion sauce; and the Pork Filletino, marinated in olive oil and rosemary and served with mixed vegetables. Those all sound pretty delicious and, with the net carbs all under 20g (and none of them coming from starch), very reasonable for Primal eaters.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

The Final Word

Eating out at normal restaurants can be done, and it can be done without sacrificing your progress or ruining your health. Even if you don’t opt for the pseudo-Primal fare at these places and instead just eat whatever you want, don’t beat yourself up over it. After all, an important part of the Primal Blueprint is enjoying life – and eating, drinking, and generally being merry with friends and family is what it’s all about regardless of the food and drink in question.

As for the actual damage to your body from a single chain restaurant meal, it was just a one-time thing (80/20!), and your body can totally handle it. Just remember: the guilt and stress from agonizing over a small lapse in judgment will be more harmful than what you actually ate, so lighten up!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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85 thoughts on “The Primal Blueprint Guide to Dining Out”

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  1. One of the benefits I’ve enjoyed from eating real food is that I now prefer eating my own food at home over restaurant food. However, I do periodically find myself at a restaurant due to a rare craving for unhealthy food or getting together with friends. Fortunately, I love steak and most restaurants serve it. I don’t like the idea of supporting factory farming, which I assume is where most chains get their meat from, but at least I can get a relatively decent meal.

    For what it’s worth, if forced to go to a chain, I think the steak at Chili’s tastes much better than at Friday’s or Applebees. There’s also Outback which I think is a step above the other chains.

    I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to McDonald’s, but I used to love it. At some point, I’m sure I’ll end up there again, and when I do, I’m going all out … bun and plenty of ketchup! 🙂

    1. If you check out, there’s a section for stores and restaurants carrying products from grass-fed or pasture fed farms in your state, maybe you’ll find something near you.

  2. The absolute best is to eat at home. No out side meal is as good as you can make at home. That being said, my problem is my wife. She looks at eating out as a treat for her and so do I. I am getting to the point where I look at not wanting to go, but also wanting to please her. I, more so than my wife, approach every meal out with the primal guide in mind, GMO crap, and unnatural so called food products.

    1. I suspect that taking a break from cooking, rather than eating out, is the real treat for your wife. If you want to give your wife a treat and stay primal at the same time, stay in for dinner and *you* do the cooking.

    2. Yes, Roman, that could be it. I love eating out, but only because I don’t have to cook, cause I would rather have my own food. Every time I ask my husband to eat out, it’s because I don’t really feel like cooking that day.

  3. the award for the best primal restaurant has to be Genghis Grill. Just meat, veggies and eggs of different types and combinations piled in a bowl. yo may have to skip the sauce though.

    1. Saw this on a gluten-free blog, so at least there might be a good sauce choice. Thinking Roasted Tomato wouldn’t be too bad…

      “I know that the Dragon Sauce, the Roasted Tomato Sauce, and the Sweet and Sour Sauce do not contain any Gluten. If you have any other questions, please email me at [email protected]

    2. IDK Dave, Chipotle is pretty great although sometimes I do miss the beans. (who woulda thought) I just wrote a blog post about eating paleo while on the road with the family. The local Whole Foods is our best friend, but we do grab a quick fast food meal from time to time. We have a low functioning kid with autism and waiting for food is not his strong suit. If anyone is interested in 5 Fast Food Paleo options plus paleo family travel tips check it out.

  4. Great post, Mark!
    I eat primal and train hard (including doing the grok crawl around my apartment almost all the time!), but when I visit with my parents or fiance on the weekends, the bad foods are in abundance and the eating out is heavy. After each meal I feel nasty and extremely guilty. You are right, we all need to lighten up because the mental aspect of poor eating can be more tramatic than the occasional poor choice. After living the primal and all-natural life style I can see the difference and find processed foods and sugar to be quite nasty and not in the least bit fullfilling. People look at me like I have a third eye when making food substitutions and eating completely different than most people around me, but right on to those of us who can do it! Thank you posts and wishes of good health.

  5. Chili’s does do a decent steak. You can also get a salmon filet with grilled vegetables off their “guiltless” menu. Not a lot of butter, but at least no vegetable oil.

    An awesome option is Chipotle. Order a fajita burrito bowl (bowl = no tortilla, fajita == onions and peppers instead of beans), then just tell them no rice. Get a nice slow cooked meat like carnitas (the best tasting option, in my opinion), then you can have any of the salsas (or all) except the corn salsa. Then add cheese and sour cream, and if you like, guacamole (which is extra money). Lettuce too, if you prefer. All that for $5.85 (+$1.75 for guacamole) + tax.
    Chipotle tries to raise most of their meats in non-CAFO style, so chances are you’re getting something a bit better than standard fare in the meat department.
    It’s amazing they were originally a venture of McDonald’s.

    1. All Chipotle’s pork at all their restaurants is pastured. And at most of their restaurants they have 100% free-range chicken and beef (all restaurants in Washington and California are, for example). See for a video from ABC talking about the meat and the farms/ranches where they get it.

      I had only heard that McDonald’s was an investor (they parted ways in 2006) and so have never tried Chipotle but that’s going to change the next time I have to eat out.

    2. This is a super old post but I just had to comment and agree. I have a gluten allergy and its a great place for me to go to lunch.

      I also recommend the carnitas not only bc they are tasty but bc they are the only meat NOT cooked in soybean oil. Double score!

      1. The chicken and flank steak are both grilled on an open flame, visible to anyone ordering (depending on that restaurant’s layout). I wouldn’t call them “cooked in soybean oil”.

  6. I agree with Vin, Outback is def a cut above the rest with their meat.

    I’ll admit to going to fast food places on occasion just out of rushed desperation for some protein – but its always sans bun and ketchup (no need to have a huge insulin spike WITH my crazy trans-fat burger “taste” chemicals!)

    Happy Hour can occasionally be a little more problematic from a low-carb / primal perspective. 🙂

  7. Mexican is my downfall when it comes to eating out but fajitas have long been my favorite. I’ve weened off the chips, rice & beans but giving up the tortillas is hard for me. I do an IF 24 hours before eating out though so that helps with the total carb intake for the day. I know the tortillas are processed but that is where I play the 80/20 card.

    1. Mexican restaurants are a disaster on a paleo diet. I now see why so many Southern Californian latinos are so overweight – nearly everything they eat is TERRIBLE for you!!

      I can get along just about anywhere except Mexican. I refuse to pay $12 for ‘fajitas’ that is entirely covered with cheap rice, beans, and tortillas.

      1. I’ve actually found Mexican restaurants to be some of the most accommodating. I definitely get the eye-roll with a polite laugh from the server, but here’s my spiel:

        “I know you probably don’t have this on the menu, but here’s what I’d like: a massive bed of lettuce, covered in one serving of shredded beef, fajita style vegetables, and a side of guacamole and salsa.”

        (I stay away from dairy, but cheese and sour cream would be a great addition if you’re not lactose intolerant.)

        They’ve got everything back there. It’s just a pain in the butt to ring up. But as the customer? That really doesn’t matter to me. I’m sticking with my lifestyle and eating tasty Mexican food!

  8. I’ve actually never had a problem eating out. I’ve always been able to find paleo options. I just ask them to hold the bread or I just remove it myself. It’s even easier if you allow dairy into your paleo plan. Most of the time I end up with a meat plus a salad or sashimi (sushi places are popular where I live). The only time I encountered a problem was at a vegan restaurant, but I found that while the raw vegan stuff is kinda heavy on the sugars sometimes, most of it paleo.

  9. How about places like ihop — breakfast all day. Eggs and bacon are always available – not pastured but…

    1. Oh, BTW — I have heard that some places make omelets with pancake mix in the eggs to make them fluffy. Ask, sometimes they can’t remove it as is comes in a 5 gallon bucket pre-mixed. I’d stick with eggs in their natural state.

      1. At least at the IHOPs I have been to, I have been able to order their omelets without the pancake batter, and cooked in butter as well. YMMV!

  10. Does anyone know of a list of restaurants that serve grass-fed meats? Or a list of restaurants that serve meats from CAFOs. I plan on avoiding those.

    1. I recently heard that Chipotle uses “naturally raised meats” not sure what that means, but it might be better than average fair. They let you pick what goes into your burrito — just unwrap it an eat the filling and leave the rest behind.

  11. The worst place to eat out is at a ballgame. I love spending a summer evening out with friends, watching a good baseball game, but there is practically no Primal food to be found! I definitely get weird looks asking for a burger with no bun.

    1. Ballgames and movies are great cultural examples of events where we are expected to eat. I know people who can’t fathom the idea of going to the movies or to a baseball game without getting concessions. I used to be same way until I realized I didn’t even want to eat, but culturally it was just expected!

    2. Then you need to become a Baltimore Oriole fan. There is Bambino’s ribs and Boogs BBQ all smoked/grilled in right field. Grab a rack of ribs, no bbq sauce, and a pit beef sandwich no roll and you’re good to go.

  12. One of the good things about living in NYC are the dining options. Many new resturants now pride themselves on being locavore or at least serving organic this & that so it’s pretty easy to stay primal while dining out. Even raw vegan places are do-able (ie nut burgers, veggie soups, coconut ice cream…not my ideal but ok in a pinch).
    I have 3 birthdays to celebrate this weekend (thankfully we’re doing one meal!) so I’ll suggest something that works for me (since one of the bdays is mine!)

  13. I always try to do Tex-Mex when going out…fajitas, veggies, and tons of guacamole. Also if the joint is worth its salt their salsa will be pretty primal friendly too…

  14. I agree with many of the concepts of the Primal Blueprint like cutting down on the sugar and carbs, lifting heavy things etc… but maybe i’m still conditioned by the conventional wisdom when it comes to saturated animal fat. There seems to be quite a few studies linking it to coronary heart disease:

    1. Satfat Skeptic, those studies are all over ten years old. All the newest studies coming out about saturated fat have looked at it in isolation from carbohydrates and trans fats, and no connection to heart disease has been found between saturated fat and heart disease.

      Look at more recent studies, like the ones listed here:


      and here:

      Hope this helps!

  15. Yup, no one even noticed that I pushed the bun to the side and ate my burger with the blue cheese, lettuce, tomatoes & bacon with my knife and fork.

    I don’t want to know what was in the meat or bacon, but it sure tasted good and for me, I was still in my ‘weight-loss’ guidelines (which is currently my main focus) without ingesting those horrible grains!

    I don’t know how anyone can even take a bite of these ‘forbidden’ foods after your body does a 180!

    I mean, “Hmmm…eat this, indulge a little, and get my acne, tendinitis & eczema back tomorrow??? NO!”.

    1. Sassa,
      Did your tendinitis go away from eating primal? Was it tendinitis in the elbow?


  16. I too was pretty amazed at the offerings at the Olive Garden. My wife and I received a gift card and we laughed hysterically because we thought it would be the last place we would find anything to eat. We had the mixed grill, the steak Toscano and plenty of strange looks from our server as we requested no bread or croutons. I keep wanting to use the “gluten allergy” excuse, but it keeps coming out as “Sorry, I’m allergic to eating crap!”. Kind of like Primal Tourette’s.

  17. Since going Primal, I’ve gone from eating out 5 times a week to eating out seldom (maybe once or twice a month).

    The meat and salad usually works for me.

    I do appreciate your balanced approach, though. Living life is more important than trying to achieve “perfection”.

  18. The hardest part about eating at restaurants is not finding a suitable meal, but the crappy feeling I get from the sodium content afterward. After a few days primal, eating out always makes my lips chapped, my mouth dry, and my body bloated. Not a good feeling.

    1. Yeah, my doctor put me a low-to-no-carb diet and for the first week I’ve been mostly eating out, flailing because I don’t have a clue what to cook at home (like many Americans, my recipe book is filled with pasta and rice dishes). And as a result, my sodium intake has just been ridiculously high.

      But this morning I’m going to make homemade eggs and bacon, so the salt content of my life should be going back down soon.

  19. I have been doing the primal thing for a few weeks now, and its going good. I am forced to each out a lot because of vendor relationships, so staying primal is tough. I usually opt for the steak or salad, but beware….not all salads are good for you. I just had a pecan chicken salad from TGIF and to my jaw-dropping amazement, that thing had 1300+ calories and 70+ carbs! Do research on the menu before you go out, it will help in making good decisions.

  20. Because I’m a small, female, former gymnast who’s already near my ideal weight, I frequently get suspicious looks/questions when eating with my relatives — they think I have an eating disorder. So I find myself trying to hide the fact that I’m not eating the bun — especially when going out with more overweight dining companions.
    Thoughts on how you guys handle this? I’m not starving myself — I just don’t eat crap.

  21. I would be careful with anything that comes with, or in a sauce. Despite their “healthy” claims, Chipotle puts sugar in EVERYTHING (including their rice, beans, tortillas, salsa, guacamole, and meat marinades). Asian restaurants also put sugar, corn starch, and MSG in most of their food.

    I’m with Mark and prefer to order a piece of meat or fish and vegetables. Or fast.

  22. In a normal restaurant, I try to get meat with veggies on the side, or in worst of cases, two salads. If you ask me, any restaurant that does not offer a single salad is probably not worth the money.

    However, if I go to a very nice restaurant, or if I am celebrating some very special occasion, I will probably cave in and go kamikaze-mode.

  23. Great guide. I have to question the aversion to the Vegetarian/Vegan cuisine though. Sure, you might have to supplement your meal with some jerky when you get home to get the requisite protein. But apart from a potentially low protein content, vegan cuisine is a wonderful way to eat primal and one of the rare chances you’ll get to have really high-quality veggies while eating out – instead of iceberg lettuce and bland steamed cauliflower. Look for the raw vegan items – because it’s difficult to make tasty food with raw grains, these dishes are usually naturally low-carb.

    1. I hear you, Avdi. I was just having a little fun with the vegans. But yes, certainly many vegan/vegetarian restaurants have Primal fare.

  24. Carl’s Jr. (Hardee’s elsewhere) does indeed have a “protein style” 6-dollar Burger. I ate one for lunch today…not quite as good as In-N-Out, but close (and I actually preferred the grilled meat to the griddled meat.

  25. I miss beans, all kinds of beans, more than anything. Mexican food w/o beans and rice is just not Mexican. Fajitas aren’t, either, BTW. They are like chop suey, invented here.

    Back around 1983 I spent some time in the Chicago area on business. I never got over the “How do you want your potato?” question. And similarly after asking if there are some vegetables, “Let me go to the kitchen and see if the cook can find something.”

    Being a Californian at the time with its cornucopia, that midwest eating was a trip. A bad one. Best food was at the Greek joint. Turned some coworkers onto feta cheese.

  26. those in the chicago area (or flying in/out of o’hare airport) should keep burrito beach in mind. they have tallgrass beef (grassfed) barbacoa. get that in a salad bowl, hold the rice and beans, add veggies and guacamole and you’re set.

  27. I don’t really see how a raw vegan restaurant couldn’t be primal. They’re mostly based around huge salads, tons of fresh produce, and a good deal of nuts and seeds. The food is real, fresh, and delicious… and raw, which is pretty primal.

  28. Good post today… I leave town every monday for business and get back usually Thursday or Friday. Different city pretty much every week so I have to forage for everything.

    I try to pack all or some of: nuts, homemade jerky, protein powder, and homemade primal energy bars.

    My colleagues that I sometimes travel with are starting to like to travel with me because we always seek out good stuff…no cheap BS.

    I have actually had some good luck finding wild game and grass fed beef on the road, but not every week. It is so hard to avoid getting poisoned when eating out. I try to avoid all salad dressings – even O/V can be a disguise for something bad. I have been going to lemon wedges and squeezing onto my salads…

    I like to go for Sashimi about once a week and I love to find a good local BBQ place. I know every Primal place to eat at most of the airports…I fast when nothing good is available. I will say that food always tastes better if you have to work for it, even if that is just finding a suitable place to order a meal!

    Like Mark said, don’t be afraid to ask for a special order – it is your money after all…

  29. I would never eat at any of these restaurants. Their lack of primal-ness is concerning, however my biggest gripe would be the lack of flavor and/or texture in anything you would find there.

  30. This was a great post. I especially liked Tip #3 – to consider IF.

    I am going to be traveling for a month to Asia and am worried about how to find Primal foods in the face of temptation for local cuisine. Will definitely need to forage!

    Thanks again Mark!

  31. Meat, salad and vegetables are pretty easy to find out and about. I have become a pro at ordering primal in restaurants and find that nearly everywhere will sub a side of potatoes or french fries for some kind of vegetable. It may result in weird looks but its worth it!

  32. I eat at home always now, but also I love eating out once/week. Ok my chose of is reduced now, with the PB. We go to fish places and grill meat ones.

    I only eat in this fast food places, when I am travelling, and want something quick and move on.

  33. Just about every restaurant has a Ceasar Salad. Order the grilled chicken ceasar with the dressing on the side. Pick around any croutons and you are left with lots of Romaine lettuce (the good stuff not that wilting Iceberg crap) egg, chicken, and a little shredded cheese. Not organic of pastured chickens but not all that bad either and you don’t call much attention to youself for being a food geek. Finish with water and lemon and you are GROKING.

  34. Cool post Tommy made w/link to Dateline story about how Chipotle grill gets their pork from Joe Saliton’s Polyface Farm. Joe is THE leader in the pasture raising movement!

    While I haven’t eaten in a fast food restaurant in more than 20 years, now I know I can recommend this place to my cooking students and clients or use it as a back up if I need to meet someone for a business lunch and a local independent restaurant I favor is too far to go to, and I want a better cut of meat with my veggies.

    Great blog post!

  35. I stick to the steak/prime rib and salad plan. I always sub veggies for starches and get no surprise over that at all. Ordered double broccoli the other day to replace two non-primal sides and the waitress didn’t bat an eye.

  36. I mostly eat @ home, but when i do swaping out starches for veggies is something i always do, and so true, Rest. don’t mind, you’re the customer!

  37. Come on folks- grab a newspaper and do some research into local places to eat- stay away from the chains. Most do a far better job and more willing to cook to order. And Diners rock- lucky to have so many here in NJ.

  38. Last night I was at a rather upscale Italian restaurant, where they charged me $4 for substituting asparagus instead of potatoes. With that substitution, my meal consisted of a steak, spinach, and asparagus, which isn’t that bad (except I don’t know what all everything was cooked in), but I think $4 for such a substitution is ridiculous. I could understand 50 cents or a dollar, but $4?
    Not to mention the waitress’s attitude about why I wanted to sub something for the potatoes.

    1. When I get that kind of treatment from a restaurant, I vote with my feet and don’t eat there again.

      If they do that, they’re not serving their customers’ needs.

  39. What do you guys think about only eating beans and rice, and only drinking water? I would add vegetables and fruits for nutritional value. Plus, this would save hundreds of dollars per month on the grocery bill.

  40. Hey in response to the McDonald’s meat choice…here’s the ingredients for the Angus:

    100% Angus beef. Prepared with Grill Seasoning (salt, black pepper) and Angus Burger Seasoning: Salt, sugar, dextrose, onion powder, maltodextrin, natural butter
    flavor (dairy source), autolyzed yeast extract, spices, garlic powder, vegetable protein (hydrolyzed corn, soy and wheat), natural (animal, plant and botanical source)
    and artificial flavors, dried beef broth, sunflower oil, caramel color, partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oil, gum arabic, soy sauce solids (wheat, soybean,
    salt, maltodextrin, caramel color), palm oil, worcestershire sauce powder [distilled vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices,
    tamarind, natural flavor (fruit source)], beef fat, annatto and turmeric (color), calcium silicate and soybean oil (prevent caking).

    That is just for the patty itself. The traditional one has these as the ingredients:

    100% pure USDA inspected beef; no fillers, no extenders. Prepared with grill seasoning (salt, black pepper).

    While it is all unhealthy, I’d definitely choose the regular.

  41. I go to a Chinese buffet twice a week. There I get baked fish (salmon or tapia), hot wings, steamed broccoli, bok choy, and sometimes beef or chicken off the hibachi grill. They also have cold boiled shrimp.

  42. Again all posts on this blog appear to be 2 years old; however, your article mentions eating Salmon at Olive Garden, etc. BIG PROBLEM! Most salmon 80% i USA and also around the world in modern countries are farm-raised. Opposite ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio in wild salmon to farm-raised salmon. SO NOT advisable!

    1. Unfortunately, you’re rarely going to find meat in restaurants that is wild or grass fed. It’s all about making the best out of the situation. Try to avoid grains, legumes, and unknown sauces. That’s about all you can do.

  43. I’m kind of disappointed by these kinds of articles because they always focus on chain restaurants. What about individually owned, run by a cook places?

    Find a “nose to tail” place and you’re good as gold, methinks.

    St. John in London, Incanto in San Francisco, The Spotted Pig and The Breslin in New York.

  44. I have to disagree with part of the following statement:

    “… dinner at a vegetarian or a raw vegan restaurant will probably be the day you try IF.”

    You might be right about lacking primal choices at a restaurant since I have yet to browse a menu at one(I don’t think there’s one within 100 miles, but I’ll google it later), but it seems like the argument could be extended to raw veganism in general and I must point out that a raw vegan meal is really not as bad for Grok as it sounds in this article, if it’s strictly adhered to.

    I have some good friends who are raw vegans. I don’t agree with their diet of choice, but they love it and they leave me be so I let them be. My fiance and I had dinner at their home and they prepared raw vegan tacos and stuffed poblano peppers, finishing the meal with chocolate (cacao) pie and two flavors of homemade “ice cream.” They did not use a single ingredient that wasn’t 100% paleo/primal-friendly. In fact, since they avoid grains and legumes about 90% of the time because they can’t be (palatably) eaten raw, meat is the only difference between their raw vegan diet and a strict, dairy-free primal/paleo diet.

    The chocolate pie, especially, is a recipe I would have expected to find in the PB Reader-Created Cookbook, with its coconut butter and avocado-based filling and flour-free crust.

    So realistically, if any of our resident health nuts have friends who are health nuts in the raw vegan camp, enjoying a meatless meal together might not go as badly as this article suggests.

  45. I’ve been trying the PB for roughly 3wks now. (My book just arrived yesterday.) so far I’ve lost 13lbs and I have way more energy… I want to call it virility ! Anyway, I hadnt eaten since this morning and had several more hours to work before getting home @7pm, so I tried this Chipotle experiment. I don’t know how closely it resembles a proper PB meal, but it was delicious and I’ve not felt a “spike” yet:

    Carnitas burrito bowl
    Peppers & onions
    Light bit of medium tomatillo salsa

    (no beans, rice, cheese, sc, tortilla, or chips !)

  46. Just wanted to give a heads up that according to the allergy information at Olive Garden:

    Almost everything including all of Mark’s option have soy. I expect this is because when they say “olive oil” they mean “Soybean oil with a drop of olive oil”

    I would be wary of what else they are adding to their food but still a decent choice for your 20. Just don’t think its a free pass.

  47. My boyfriend and I had a knock down drag out fight about my social eating habits. He says if I don’t eat it looks like I’m being snooty when we are out with friends. I couldn’t care less about the food. I’m interested in the company.

    Then I brought food when we went to a friend’s house to stay. His friend told me he thought it was really rude of me to show up at his house with my own food, reasoning that he loves to cook for people.

    I don’t know why everyone else is so invested in what I put in my body but it’s really an issue in my relationship. My boyfriend is one of those eat anything resembling food people (he is fortunately quite thin but has a lot of physical pain – inflammation).


  48. God, this post and especially the comments pissed me off. Of course preparing your own food is best but don’t you people ever travel? Take a vacation? Get stuck on the road without your bag of veggies? 95% of the time I cook at home, but I also have a life and have to adjust on the fly so I’m not stuck with fast food. That’s what I was hoping to find here, but I guess I’ll stick with my tried and true diners or salads.

    1. Susan, I agree. this post was a dissapointment.

      Also, I dont like the out right lies. I love Mark and this site, but…I worked for McDonalds for a while and we didnt have a microwave in the building. This came as a shock to a lot of our customers who needed formula warmed up (I know, but the customers would ask). everyone has always been told that McD’s nukes their burgers – simply not true~they are fried on a huge metal surface.