Best Restaurants for Clean Eating

With so many specialty diets out there – from diets of choice like Paleo to diets of necessity like gluten-free – it can be hard to keep up with the latest studies and findings about what’s good for you and what’s not. But there’s one food trend that no one can argue – clean eating. While it might sound involved, it’s actually a very simple concept. “Clean eating” is simply eating as many whole foods as possible and avoiding things that have been processed or altered in any way. Fortunately, the Richmond area offers a number of organic markets and grocery stores that make finding “clean” foods fairly easy. But eating clean while dining out? That can be a different story.

While many restaurants offer delicious one-of-a-kind dishes, it’s no secret that, no matter how good they taste, they aren’t always the healthiest option. Fortunately, with the emergence of clean eating trends, more and more restaurants are moving towards creating healthier choices – some going so far as to build their entire menus around foods that are sustainable, organic, and as often as possible, locally sourced, creating both healthier dishes and better practices.

If you are trying to eat clean, you’ll be glad to know that many of these restaurants are right here in the Richmond area. In fact, we’ve searched through more than a few of them ourselves and found five places that stood out for their exceptionally fresh, organic ingredients.

Our five favorite clean eating restaurants in Richmond shared these qualities:

  • Creative menus with options for everyone regardless of dietary needs
  • Unique flavors (in other words, they don’t just serve salads!)
  • Sustainable practices

The best part is that the following restaurants serve up food so good that even your kids won’t mind eating healthy. Try out our favorites, but let us know if you have a clean eating spot that fits the bill, as well. Drop us a line at cs@richmondmom.com and tell us about it!

The Pit and The Peel / Facebook

If it’s fresh, natural and “clean” that you’re looking for The Pit and The Peel is the place to go. While this hip juice joint in Carytown and VCU is known for their incredible raw beverages and smoothie concoctions, they might just surprise you with their impressive food options. Starting with a breakfast menu of bagels, sandwiches, eggs, open-faced sandwiches and avocado toast combinations, The Pit and The Peel provides an easy way to start your day off right. For lunch and dinner, you can choose from quinoa bowls filled with toppings, sandwiches, paninis, quesadillas, wraps and salads. While the food is always served up fresh, made-to-order and filled with flavor, this alone doesn’t set them apart. They make our list thanks to their commitment to using only the highest quality, organic and locally sourced products. But, of course, the delicious flavors certainly don’t hurt!

See a full menu here.

Why we love them: If you’ve made the choice to buy and eat “clean,” then you know that it can come at a cost – quite literally. Organic and sustainably sourced foods are, undoubtedly, better for us, but they typically carry a higher price tag. Which is why you might expect to pay a little more at a place like The Pit and The Peel. Well, we’re happy to tell you that you can expect the unexpected. The Pit and The Peel offers affordable options across the board. With breakfasts under $6 and pretty much all other items well under $10, you can eat clean, without cleaning out your wallet in the meantime.

Locations:
VCU
1102 West Main Street
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 367-5885

Monday-Friday: 7am – 7pm
Saturday and Sunday: 9am – 5pm

Carytown
3321 West Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23221
(804) 367-5885

Open daily 7am – 9pm

 

Fresca on Addison

If you’re not a vegetarian, hearing someone say, “I know this great vegetarian place,” might make you panic. I mean, after all, no meat? It’s an understandable feeling if you’re used to meat-based meals. But Fresca at Addison knows your panic – and they’re there to help. When Jenna Sneed, the daughter of a chef and restaurateur, first opened Fresca at Addison, her goal was to make meals so delicious that you wouldn’t “miss the meat.” And we’re here to say that she succeeded. Featuring a fresh selection of soups, starters, salads, sandwiches, tacos and pizza, Fresca on Addison has options to satisfy even the most devout carnivores, while keeping the entire menu meat-free. And with most items available in vegan-friendly versions, you can rest assured, no one will go home hungry. The only thing we would change if we could would be their hours. Right now, they only serve lunch – but then again, if you take an extra order to go, not only will you have dinner for later, you’ll have a chance to try more from their menu!

See a full menu here.

Why we love them: You already know that in order to make our list, a restaurant must have a commitment to sustainable foods. Fresca on Addison is certainly no exception. And like many of our other favorites, they are also invested in local providers, sourcing as many of their ingredients from the Richmond area as possible. But what we really love about this vegetarian lunch spot their local feel. Fresca on Addison is a family business and that comes across in everything they do. From homey recipes to an incredibly friendly staff, everything in this no-frills Fan restaurant is designed to make you feel like you’re part of their family. And trust me, once you taste what they have to offer, this is one family you’ll want to join.

Location:
22 South Addison Street
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 359-tofu (8638)
Tuesday – Saturday: 11am – 4pm

 

Ellwood Thompson’s / Facebook

Now before you say, “But Ellwood Thompson’s is a grocery store,” let us assure you that we know they offer grocery items. But trust us when we say they are so much more than just a grocery store. The hot bar, “create” bar, and café at Ellwood Thompson’s are a gold mine for busy families who also want to make sure they’re eating right. Featuring foods that are fresh, organic, local, sustainable and everything else that goes into clean eating, Ellwood Thompson’s makes eating right quick and easy. Choose from an ever-changing selection of ready-made foods at the hot bar, or request custom-made breakfasts, energy bowls, sandwiches, and burgers at their “create” bar. Looking for coffees, raw juices, smoothies, or kombucha? Green and Grind, Ellwood Thompson’s proprietary café, serves it all fresh and made-to-order. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or just want to eat a healthy balance of organic foods, you’ll find just what you’re looking for at this local market. Come in for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and enjoy a casual setting to dine-in – or take some things to go. Whatever you choose, we can guarantee you’ll be back for more.

See the daily Hot Bar menu here. See the Create Bar menu here. See the Green and Grind menu here.

Why we love them: Ellwood Thompson’s truly has it all. Don’t feel like cooking? Pull up a chair and relax in their casual dining environment with items from the hot bar or create bar. Want to hear live music? Be sure to stop by for dinner every Thursday and Friday for live music from 5pm – 7pm or head in for happy hour at the bar in The Beet, their in-house event space, from 4pm – 7pm. Need fresh, organic groceries?  Find many of the ingredients to re-create your favorite hot bar and create bar items at home. When we say they have it all…we mean it. And to top it all off, you can be sure that whatever you choose, the foods you buy are fresh, organic and more often than not, locally sourced, making Ellwood Thompson’s a one-stop shop at its best.

Location:
4 North Thompson Street
Richmond, VA 23221
(804) 359-7525
Open daily from 7am – 9pm

 

Sen Organic Small Plate / Facebook

French and Vietnamese fusion food that’s also good for you…yes, please. At least, that was our first response when we discovered Sen Organic Small Plate. This stunning merging of cultures results in exotic flavors that will blow you away. But what makes it truly special is that you get all of this deliciousness without sacrificing clean eating. Sen Organic is deeply committed to using only organically grown, all-natural ingredients, ensuring that every bite you take is satisfying to the mind and body. Choose from menu items like the Grilled Okra Octopus starter (fresh octopus with organic okra saute, special seasonings, homemade organic Sen Green Sauce, peanuts, dried shallot and organic green onion) or go for the vegan/gluten-free “Grandma style” Lemongrass Tofu (organic tofu marinated with turmeric powder and lemongrass, served with organic brown rice, sunflower sprouts, Sen pickles, tomatoes, cucumbers and Sen vegan sauce). Or you could be like me and go straight for the pho. Make it seafood, meat, vegan or vegetarian, just know that it will be delicious.

See a full menu here.

Why we love them: When you are focused on a particular dietary need or preference, it can sometimes feel limiting. You might feel like you’re locked into certain foods, and even more so, certain restaurants that you know meet your dietary requirements. That’s why we love Organic Sen. Without using fancy gimmicks or pretentious plating, they combine exotic with organic to create something special that allows you to expand your palate, without interrupting your dietary balance. And unlike many Asian fusion places, you won’t find any additives, MSG, or anything artificial for that matter, in Sen Organic’s food. The result is light, fresh-tasting dishes that bring foreign flavors into a Richmond setting, without excluding anyone.

Location:
2901 West Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23221
(804) 355-0736

Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: 11am – 3pm and 5pm – 10pm
Closed Tuesday
Friday – Sunday: 11am – 10pm

 

The Daily Kitchen and Bar / Facebook

Eating healthy is something we would all like to do, right? But when you have a family or group with different dietary requirements and preferences, it can be hard to find a restaurant that satisfies everyone at once. That’s where The Daily Kitchen and Bar comes in. Their incredibly diverse menu offers something for ever palate – from vegan and vegetarian options right down to a creatively healthy kids’ menu. Plus, with breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch available, there’s no excuse for not eating healthy all day. As for creativity, The Daily Kitchen and Bar knocks it out of the park. Try their watermelon gazpacho or perhaps a gluten-free “Fig and Pig” pizza (a white pizza with pulled pork, figs, arugula and a balsamic reduction) and you’ll see what we mean. With a full selection of wines, specialty drinks, desserts and more, the only difficult thing about eating at The Daily Kitchen and Bar is choosing what to have.

See a full menu here.

Why we love them: “Organic” is a word that gets thrown around so much these days that it tends to lose its meaning. But at The Daily Kitchen and Bar, organic isn’t just a buzz word, it’s part of their operating principle. They promise to provide 100% natural ingredients that are sustainable and, as often as possible, sourced locally. But what really ups the game at this casually stylish restaurant is the fact that they make it so easy to eat right no matter what your dietary needs or preferences. From the menu labels that indicate everything from vegan to Paleo to gluten-free and gluten-free optional right down to their list of local providers, they make sure that you know exactly what you’re eating with every bite. Add to that a reasonably priced menu, and The Daily Kitchen and Bar was easily our top choice for clean eating.

Locations:
Carytown
2934 W. Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23221
(804) 342-8990

Sunday–Thursday: 7am – 11pm
Friday and Saturday: 7am – 1am

Short Pump
12201 West Broad Street
Henrico, VA 23233
(804) 360-3800

Sunday–Thursday: 7am – 11pm
Friday and Saturday: 7am – 1am

 

For more of Best of Richmond, click here.

SHARE
Anna Strock
Anna has spent the last 18 years writing, directing creative projects, and trying to be the best mom possible to her three girls. When she's not exploring Richmond for the latest and greatest resources, offerings, and activities, she can be found daydreaming on travel blogs, drinking too much coffee, and running kids to endless activities.