Pick healthy, but tasty restaurants over fast food

By Shayna Barbash

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Photo by Shayna Barbash.

Organic to Go offers many healthy and vegetarian options. Photo by Shayna Barbash.

You’re wandering down Bethesda Ave. and the tempting smells of Dunkin Donuts and Bethesda Bagels waft through the air.  You’re torn between what to eat and where to eat it; your taste buds tell you one thing and your health-conscious mind tells you another.  But with appealing places within driving distance of school, both your taste buds and mind can now be satisfied.  Innovative new restaurants make it easy to eat healthy foods that still taste great.

While a certain amount of both saturated and unsaturated fats are necessary for absorbing critical vitamins, dining out usually provides more calories and unhealthy options than needed.  Many restaurants now focus on providing food made from fresh, locally-grown ingredients that fill your stomach with nutrients, rather than chemicals that leave you feeling uncomfortable and sick.

The following is a list of local restaurants that provide healthy options and interesting takes on “going organic”:

Lilit Café: Located on Old Georgetown Rd., this gourmet shop offers fresh food and an array of gluten-free options.  The extensive menu includes sandwiches and lightly-baked goods. While not every meal is completely healthy, the hearty dose of vegetables the restaurant offers is a definite bonus in an area where restaurants seem to think they aren’t necessary in a meal.  Prices range from $8 to $15, and include both entrée-style meals and ready-made fast snacks. The gluten-free menu is separate and offers many of the same things the non-gluten menu does. Fountain drinks are less than a $1, a refreshing break from paying the same amount for your beverage as you do for your meal.  The breadth of options makes this cafe a great place for large groups.

Organic to Go: Located on Bethesda Ave., OGO offers excellent vegetarian options.  The menu, although limited, includes hearty and healthy choices consisting of sandwiches, pizzas, salads and individual calzone creations.  Prices range from $6 to $10.  The restaurant focuses on combining fresh ingredients with the talent of skilled chefs to create unique and creative meals.  Unlike many other restaurants in the area, OGO also offers a special collection of foods for Grab n’ Go meals that eliminate the need for a unhealthy pit stop at a fast food restaurant.

Rock Creek: Located on Elm St., this restaurant has a small but delicious menu, where all ingredients are organic and the food is created with health in mind.  For those looking to watch what they eat, Rock Creek is the perfect place.  While a bit pricey, the menu provides the nutritional information of all items on the menu and portions are small, a break from the notion of quantity over quality.  Portion-controlled meals make over-eating almost impossible and eliminate the infamous “food-baby” phenomenon after a meal.  The relaxing and friendly atmosphere provides for a great place for a special occasion or nice dinner with the family.  While the desserts are tiny, they make up for it in flavor.  After a recent visit, I can say from experience that the pumpkin pie is a must eat-it’s spices and delicate whipped cream will make you come again and again to Rock Creek.

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