Where Can I Find Healthful Food?

Wright's Dairy-Rite
Lunch at Wright’s Dairy-Rite, in Staunton. Not healthful. But…damn. That’s good eatin’.

I’ll be moving in a few weeks (only a quarter mile, but moving is moving) and that means a few days during which it won’t be practical to do any cooking. I’m looking for some healthy restaurant options for lunch and dinner. Part of what makes restaurant food delicious is that it’s slathered in butter, loaded with salt, etc. Can you suggest any better options for eating out?

Whole Foods’ prepared foods seem to be pretty good. Bodo’s is always a great option, between their bagels, soups, and salads. Sticks is spot-on, with their lean meat, veggies, rice, and simple sauces. What other places am I missing?

36 Responses to “Where Can I Find Healthful Food?”


  • I like Cafe 88 near Sticks and IY. It is fresh, if not always completely healthy. It is far closer to healthy than the stuff at most Asian restaurants. Sushi is also a very healthy option in general.

  • McKinley Morganfield

    Not to muddy the waters, but a few days eating the scrumptious salads at the Boat House on Rt. 29 across from Sperry can change one dietary habits. It did mine. Their Hawaiian salad is all the meal I want no matter what time of day.

    Lotsa greens and sliced tenderloin soaked … er, marinated in pineapple juice and more.

    And for what could be the best restaurant meal in town, jambalaya at the Brasserie Montiel, corner of Hydraulic and Commonwealth.

    Their pork tenderloin also deserves a serenade.

  • Well, I guess pizza is not particularly healthy, but Fabio’s on High Street is really good pizza, in my opinion. People rave about Aqui es Mexico on Carlton(?), but Mexican food can be either (a) healthy or (b) not healthy, depending on what you order and how much lard they add. You can’t go wrong with Sticks.

  • One of the best, healthiest, localist, restaurants is Revolutionary Soup. Tons of options. Many from local farms. And Eppie’s (on the mall) serves up some delicious, affordable options. Some are a little heavy on the butter and cream, but at least they are recognizable ingredients (unlike xylitol).

  • I see my wife beat me to it. I was also going to recommend Rev Soup. Also, if you want to spend a bit more, The Local.

  • What about Mona Lisa Pasta? They have fresh and frozen pastas, sauces, lasagnas, etc. and dinner prep would be super easy.

  • Hot Cakes in Barracks Rd., curry chicken salad at Brasserie Montiel, salads/sandwiches at Bread Works

  • McKinley Morganfield

    If it’s restaurant recommendations for healthy food, no one tops Zazus on 250 West in the strip mall beyond St. Anne’s. Healthy food is their specialty. Where I go when my nutrition needs a boost. Good prices, too.

    I’ll echo the recommendation of Fabios. I’m a pizza lover raised in New England, home base of 1000 “John The Baker” and “Mario The Maker” pizza specialists, plus New Havens’s gourmet $50 pies. IMO Fabios is the only truly northeast Italian pizza available in central Virginia.

    The other day we tried the new “RISE Pizzaworks” in the BRSC. They are the only one in town offering an option of olive oil and garlic sauce, a mainstay of the northeast pizza specialists that not even Fabio’s offers.

    Fantastic for a lover of drippy pizza, and they deliver

  • McKinley Morganfield

    For what it’s worth, my vote says Hot Cakes is the 2nd most over-rated restaurant in the area. I’ve not had anything there that wasn’t better in other places charging less money.

    It’s a restaurant for the social set, not food aficionados, unless it’s a guest chef night.

    The most over-rated place IMO is Crozet Pizza. Pizza in Crozet is like a dog who sings opera. What people praise is not the voice quality, it’s the mere ability to get an aria, any aria, from a dog.

  • These are some great suggestions, folks. Mona Lisa, Rev. Soup, Hot Cakes, and Cafe 88 are notable to me because they’re all places that I’ve gone to multiple times, like, and recognized was healthful-seeming food, but somehow didn’t have indexed as “good-for-me food” in my mental database. :) I’ve never even heard Brasserie Montiel, nor have I been to Zazus, so I’m glad to have the chance to discover a new place.

    FWIW, this is something I’ve been meaning to ask about here for awhile. My wife and I allow ourselves to eat out together one time each week—a lunch or a dinner on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday—and one lunch out during the work week, and quite frequently I’m looking for something that I’m not going to feel guilty about later. Just about every week I wind up having lunch at Bodo’s, getting a whitefish/salmon salad bagel and a Cleo salad (it’s the restaurant closest to my office next to the Rotunda, too), but our weekend lunch/dinner out is a bit trickier.

    Incidentally, Fabio’s has a location in Gordonsville, too, which is closer to my house than Charlottesville is. My wife and I have been there a couple of times now. While there’s certainly nothing about their food that’s healthy, it is tasty. I had their spaghetti carbonara about a month ago, and it was great. Simple, unpretentious, hearty, and probably stunningly bad for me, but I’ll have it again. :)

  • IMHO, the absolute best healthy option is the salad bar at the Blue Ridge Country Store on the mall, but I’m sure you’re already aware of that one. ;) Bodo’s is great, Milan lunch buffet is economical and VERY filling. Red Lantern has insanely cheap lunch specials. Zazu’s has good salads and wraps. Eppie’s is great – it’s a little known fact that you can get a half-size penne with marinara there, and still get a full-size meatballs/broccoli/whatever on top, coming out under $7. Oh, and surprisingly, the Market stores that make food (Forest Lakes and Ivy Road) have pretty good sandwiches.

  • I would also throw Chipotle into the mix. The ingredients all seem really fresh and tasty, they give you HUGE servings (split the burrito with someone), and their chips/guac are really good. Sometimes I get just the chips and guac for lunch. And they use Polyface pork!

  • The Riverside on E Market St is very healthy. They press the grease out of the burgers, while they are grilling and let the fries drain before serving. I eat there all the time, and have only had one by-pass surgery before I turned 35. My father used to take me there when I was a teenager before he passed away from a heart attack…give it a try.

  • I love the idea of Riverside as health food. :) I allow myself to go there once a month, and no more. I want to live past 40. :)

  • A great and affordable option is Hamiltons for lunch on the downtown mall. They have a yummy cup of soup and salad for lunch for $5 and you also get bread with it. (If you want to get the bowl of soup vs the cup, it’s $8.) Best kept affordable lunch secret in my book.

  • Anyone who works at UVa should give the lentil salad sandwich at Take It Away a try. I try not to eat lunch out too, too often, but that’s one of my favorite things to get for lunch on The Corner.

  • I’ve been told by a west coast vegetarian that Jimmy John’s has the best veggie sub of the various chains. I guess that’s possible, but there’s no reason to eat chain food in Cville.

    Fabio’s in Gordonsville, while originally related to Fabio’s here, has gone off in another direction.

    Rev soup 1 for the salads with fish.

  • That’s any Rev Soup, that ‘1’ was for a plus sign that got deleted by the HTML eating machine.

  • Feast has prepared sandwiches, so you don’t have to wait. Many local ingredients. ABC baguette. Also, IY has a prepared food case, including vegan options, if you really want to go healthy. The sandwiches at Breadworks are delicious, too, and sometimes they have sesame noodle salad.

  • L7 – Used to be Martha’s Cafe, at 11 Elliewood Avenue, is my new favorite spot for lunch on the Corner.

  • Another vote for Revolutionary Soup. Their obsessed with using the highest quality local ingredients . Delicious too.

  • Give the Market on Market a try. Great deli sandwiches and a decent deli case.

    Since you are close to G’ville, give the new BBQExchange a try. I realize BBQ is not on the “healthy” list but it’s excellent, and they have some other options on the menu that are healthier.

  • Aromas in Barracks Road SC, Sushi Love on Elliewood Avenue, Feast at the West Main Market and Revolutionary Soup (Downtown and the Corner) are some of my favorites for a healthy lunch.

  • Waldo, would you please link to the Hook article linking to you in your sideblog?

  • Waldo, would you please link to the Hook article linking to you in your sideblog?

    Oh, no, I know what you’re doing—you’re trying to use recursion to create a black hole, which will suck in the earth and destroy us all. I’m not fallin’ for it.

  • Rev Soup is definitely fresh and local, but I stick with the clear broth soups or salads for fear that there is a ton of cream in most of them. So many people think soup is healthy, but creamy soups can be pretty fatty.

    My favorite lunch in The Corner area is a lentil salad sandwich from Take It Away. It’s filling and full of great veggies. :)

  • Zam Zam Kabob at the 29N/Rio Rd. intersection, has a limited but delicious and healthy menu to eat in or take out. Their marinated chicken kabobs are much nicer than the ones at Stix and about the same price. We also like Aqui es Mexico for authentic, inexpensive, and delicious Mexican food.

  • @Jeannine — oh, but creamy soups are GOOD GOOD GOOD…

  • Jiles Perry Richardson

    Creamy soups have no place in a thread on health food, but for some of the best you will find anywhere, try Andersons on Barracks Road.

    She Crab is a spectacular regular, and their fish and clam chowders I find superb.

    On special order you can get their champagne-brie-oyster which is utter luxury. We had it for first course last Thanksgiving.

  • I’ll echo the comments for chipotle. Bonus: they post their nutrition info on line so you know what you’re in for. My wife and I prefer the burrito bowl – simple stuff – rice, beans, chicken and salsa. Pretty good for ‘fast’ food.

  • Bashir’s, on the East end of the Downtown Mall right next to the post office.

    It isn’t as hip as places like Sticks or Bodo’s. But they have lunch platters with fresh salads (cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas, all in a light dressing) along with a lean meat, sauce on the side, and of course bread. Meats are typically lamb, pork, chicken … usually in some array of Algerian spices (note, not hot spice, just tasty spice!) All for $8 – $9 after tax.

    I eat there once or twice a week.

  • Bashir’s! There’s one that I’m embarrassed not to have thought of myself. Bashir and Kathy make some very simple, largely vegetarian dishes with great ingredients. Thanks for the reminder of that, FlyingRoadstar.

  • Feast, the Local, Rev Soup, Integral Yoga, Beer Run

  • A new favorite of mine is Basil Mediterranean Bistro, on 14th street just north of the railroad underpass at UVA corner. Very unusual food, at least to me.

    It seems healthy; olives, lemon juice, olive juice, peppers. I’ve liked everything I ordered there. It’s not expensive either.

  • OH OH OH! How could I forget? Cafe Europa. No one said that yet, did they? I think it’s healthful–except for what I usually get, which is spanakopita (mmm, phyllo and butter) and baklava (mmmm, phyllo and honey).

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