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Healthy Menu Navigator: Steakhouse

What should you steer clear of besides the Bearnaise? Nutritionist Heather Bauer explains how to order healthy at a steakhouse. (Yes, it can be done.)
Filet mignon (Photo:
Filet mignon (Photo:


Even if you know to steer clear of the bread basket, it turns out the average restaurant meal clocks in at a whopping 1,128 calories—yep, 1,128—making it easy for even the most health-savvy among us to think we’re eating well while eating out, when we’re not.

HealthyMenuNavigatorFinalEnter nutritionist-author Heather Bauer, of Bread is the Devil and Bestowed fame—and our culinary compass. Each week, Bauer steers us toward the healthiest choices on restaurant menus of any type.

Last week, it was brunch. This week, we head to the steakhouse! Get those knives ready, everyone.

Heather Bauer’s steakhouse menu navigational nugget:

Most steak joints have sauce options everywhere you look—there are balsamic versions, creamy Bearnaise, the requisite bottles of of A1. If you’ve gotta have one, opt for peppercorn, but remember: “In general, it’s best to skip sauces,” Bauer says, “because steak has more fat naturally.” If you’re gonna eat it, let the meat’s true, rich flavor shine through.



1. Any starter salad, just make sure it’s not loaded with too much cheese or creamy dressing. And skip the iceberg wedge (more on that below).

2. Hit the raw bar! Fresh oysters and clams are so naturally salty, you can practically taste the ocean, and they provide plenty of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. “The raw bar is a great way to start, because it’s so low in calories,” Bauer gushes.

3. Veggie sides. Often steakhouses have a mini menu dedicated to a dozen veggies, like grilled asparagus, steamed broccoli, and other (not-creamed spinach!) options that can make a really excellent and filling dish.


1. Grilled filet mignon. Always ask for the lowest ounce weight available, Bauer says, because it’s the best lean choice. For sides, steamed veggies should be your go-to, but sautéed options work, too. (Beware the sauce-drowned and creamed varieties.)

2. Grass-fed beef. If they’ve got it on the menu, go for it! The meat is leaner and is also loaded with omega-3s.

3. Grilled fish. Yes, yes, you’re in a steakhouse. But chefs know that not everyone’s a red meat fan, and tend to offer at least one awesome, simply prepared fish option, Bauer says.


1. Baked potatoes—even plain, they’re super carby (and really, who can resist the butter and sour cream?). Opt for double veggies instead.

2. The iceberg wedge, particularly if there’s blue cheese and bacon crumbled on it. But if you just can’t resist, get it with a vinaigrette dressing, and ask for goat cheese instead of blue. It’s cleaner and healthier that way, Bauer says.

3. The rib eye, prime, and porterhouse, which are all really high in fat.

Hungry for more? Next week, Bauer’s spilling her secrets to ordering Chinese food. Or check out last week’s guide to ordering healthy brunch.