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What do you do at restaurants?

zinfandelzinfandel Raw Newbie

I’ve been going out a lot recently and ordering at restaurants is never fun. Their salads are always awful, and have stuff like cheese on em. What do you do when you go out to eat?


  • I didn’t write this but it was posted here a few minutes ago by Lady Le Harle. I hope no one minds if I copy it here… :)

    It’s a great answer!!!!

    Lady Le Harle writes, Sep 13, 2008: (20 posts)

    Something that I do at restaurants: I casually and gracefully make my way to a waiter/waitress or person at the counter and have a delicate conversation with them while others are pouring over menus (most often I coincide this with a trip to the bathroom so as not to appear too obvious!) I basically say that I have all kinds of allergies and to cut a story should could they please do me a MASSIVE green salad with whatever raw salad/veggies they have, as simple and big as possible (avo, tomato, cucumber, carrots lemon juice are most definitely in most restaurants) if they get their knickers in a twist about it then I simply order a side salad (warning them that I will order about 3 more) and big pot of tea. I usually bring bits and pieces in my bag or eat nutrient dense snacks before I go out. I always carry Karengo seaweed and sunflower seeds. I have no issues with dumping these on the side salads!!!! But have no fear!!!! Nearly every place I go to will surprise me with a beautiful and loving salad, presentation and content!! Secretly I think chefs love doing it:-) You just gotta get in the flow of expecting good experiences with food wherever you go. If it doesnt happen at some restaurants then the food wasnt meant for you anyway.

  • beanbean Raw Newbie

    That is a great answer! That would make for a great meal. When I go out to eat, it’s usually with friends or a group of people who know nothing about my eating habits. For me, eating at a restaurant is more about the social interactions, so making a fuss about getting food tends to make me self-conscious. I try to be a bit incognito about it… What I usually do is just order the closest thing to a green salad they have, supersize it, then ask things like “instead of the cheese, can I have fresh strawberries and extra onions?” If you can add a few extra things, it turns out pretty good (and since most people have a few specifications on their own food, it doesn’t seem out of place). OH- if there’s cheese on the original salad, make sure you ask for no cheese in a way that makes them think you may have allergies, or they might just kind of brush it off before they bring it- I’ve had salads where there’s still a bit of cheese underneath the top layer of leaves, oick.

  • zinfandelzinfandel Raw Newbie

    Ungrateful- what a fabulous idea. I plan on doing that tonight… going out to a college town bar… uhhhh… yea we’ll see what the chef can whip up for me.

    Restaurants are always awkward, because it’s hard to know what to order, and I’m not a super fast decision maker anyway (I’m a libra…). I normally end up taking a small bite of someone else’s cooked food and regretting it immediately. Energy levels just plummet.

    I won’t stand for it ANYMORE! We’re our own worst barriers indeed. Thank god my health has probably quadrupled in the last 3 months.

    It is sad how cooking is so connected to socializing. I wish my boyfriend would give raw a try. I start to feel like a huge grazer around him (food always cold but always deeelicious).

  • Morning_theftMorning_theft Raw Newbie

    If you’re afraid of them getting the order wrong and sneaking things on the salad that would bother you- like cheese or dressings or croutons, a good way to prevent that would be to warn them of food allergies. They’re VERY cautious with these things.

  • I use Victoria Boutenko’s suggestion about how to stay raw and still enjoy dining out. If anyone has her book “12 Steps to Raw Food” look at pages 100 & 101. I made up a bunch of these cards and conspiciously give one to the waiter as soon as I am seated. Almost always, I get a most beautiful plate. I also always take an avocado or some really good olive oil since most restaurants don’t have these (especially the oil!) If you don’t have the book, I will post what the card says.

  • On second thought, I’m just gonna post what the card says cause I’m sure some don’t have it! I EAT ONLY RAW, UNCOOKED FOODS I would like a salad or vegetable plate with only fresh, uncooked items: lettuce, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, tomato, sprouts, onions/scallions, cilantro, bok choy, avocado, cucumber, radish, cabbage, peppers (bell, hot), arugula, carrot, celery, kale, beets, chard Thank you for your CREATIVE efforts!

    Feel free to add to/delete from your list – I have. Also, I got creative with my card, made it something special to look at as well as easy to read.

  • izzasgma – that’s really interesting. Do you hand the waiter your card as others are ordering or do you give it to them as soon as you are seated?

  • blueyzblueyz Raw Newbie

    I like the idea of the card, but for me would worry it’s too general and it’s up to the chef what to throw veggies are around your way. I prefer the idea of talking to the waitress about what you want/need and be sure to bring up dietary restrictions and allergy/sensitivities. I’ve had better results that way, then again I simply prefer the contact with staff to make sure I”m set.

    Lol, or do what I did last night and had lots of green tea and sushimi and left the cooked rice and stuff to everyone else. I was craving all the protein, happens about that time of month, so gave in and enjoyed (never claimed to be vegan, definite omnivore although animal products only rarely). On second thought, guess that wouldn’t work for many since I realize many people eating raw wouldn’t touch sashimi from what I’ve read!

  • My first time out to a non raw resetaraunt as a rawbie, was a nightmare. I was on vaca with my girlfriend and there was a local sushi joint. We decided to hit it up, she’s vegan and I’m raw vegan so we figured we could just get some raw veggies and stuff. She got a delicious avo/nori wrap and a cuke/nori wrap also. The nori they were using was the NON raw stuff! So I sighed, and was not going to let that get the best of me. I asked them pretty much for a order of the avo and cuke sushi, with no rice and no nori. I explained to them I was raw and couldn’t/WOULDN’T eat any cooked foods. When our meals come, I get this tiny plate with 1 carrot, 1/4cuke, 1/4avocado,1 asparagus. all chopped. Such a small plate! That wasn’t even the bad part, the carrot and asparagus were cooked, so I got a 1/4 cuke and a 1/4 avocado!! And the bast part, they tried charging me $17. LOL!! Needless to say, my gf was very disappointed saying that I am too difficult now that I am raw and yadi yadi yadi :). Too dificult being raw? All i wanted is fresh veggies, don’t even chop them, just pull em out and put em on a plate, simple as could be! lol

    Now, I don’t even care. I’m highfruit/low fat so I’ll bring 20 bananas or 10 mangoes and grapes, or whatever else I’m in the mood for and just eat it at the restaraunt when friends/ family eat there meals. I enjoy it, the waiter/waitress don’t have to worry about me, well besides for the fact that they have a pile high of banana peels on my plate :) But it works out, don’t let self importance get in the way. Just live.

  • QTLaylaQTLayla Raw Newbie

    Hi All

    Izzagma – I thank you for including what the card says… I think its a great idea. Do they remember to return your card?? I am thinking it would be wise to laminate it.

    I have eaten out at places that have great salad bars… Ruby Tuesday’s has a good one with baby greens, EV olive oil, and I ask the waitress to bring me some lemon wedges. You will have to check with your local restaurants to find who has good salad bars.

    Open to Other Ideas as Well!


  • Sometimes they give the card back, not always. I made lots of copies just so I always have one. Laminating would be a great idea if they gave it back. I give the card to the waiter when we are seated, and he/she usually gives it to the chef before bringing back beverages. That way, the waiter can let me know if my request is possible, if it’s not,gives me time to look at the menu. By only listing items I want, I don’t have to worry about allergies/restrictions/sensitivities. Luckily for me, I have always gotten a beautiful, plentiful plate, chef’s seem to take pride in presenting something special.

  • I rarely go to restaurants…althoug if someone wants to go out, I usually eat before, then just get a perrier, but it has to do more with food allergies/ intolerances, not being raw. Saying you have allergies can sometimes backfire though… once I was told that they couldn’t serve me because I was a liability! I also call ahead or send an email the week before attending if I do indeed go out to eat. Isn’t quite spontaneous, but it is nice to give the chef/ management a heads up so they can figure something out for you. I would never just walk into a restaurant, and start asking them to start making all kinds of special exceptions and changes to their menu, (excluding a plain salad with vegetables.. which is easy) I think that can be exceptionally annoying to waitstaff, and then who knows how your food has been adulterated! Before raw I had gone to a thai restaurant and asked if my meal could be prepared without soy sauce/ fish sauce, and the chef was extremely insulted, saying that he would not alter his recipe, because it would make it taste bad. he was afraid I wouldn’t like it without the sauce, and that I may speak poorly of his restaurant.

  • QTLaylaQTLayla Raw Newbie

    chicory – I think you make a good point about calling ahead rather than just expecting them to alter their menu for you. I had 2 such bad experiences being gluten free. Sometimes when they are busy they have no time or patience for last minute changes.


  • restaurants are always my downfall…that stupid free bread….ah!.... :( luckily I live in LA where lots of vegans, live so this is a great idea …all of them, I will give them a try

  • Many restaurants will not allow you to bring your own food in and eat it. There are health board issues. When I was in high school, my friends and I often went out for lunch in a group. A few of the others had bagged lunches and no money in their pockets. When they tried to eat their lunches at the table, they were asked to eat their food outside the restaurant, then return and keep the rest of us company. They were told that the restaurant must take responsibility for what is eaten in the restaurant. If one of the bagged lunch eaters were to get sick, the restaurant could be held liable, even though the food eaten was not prepared and served by the restaurant.

    Why even go to a restaurant if you won’t touch anything the restaurant has in the kitchen? I make a point of finding something to eat, no matter where I wind up. For example, my boyfriend and I occasionally go to a bar and grill to eat and watch a sporting event on TV. I usually order a dinner-sized Greek salad, with the feta on the side, which he usually scarfs. The dressing isn’t raw, but I just deal with it. I could bring my own olive oil and ask for lemon to squeeze on. I don’t, because it’s easier to just eat a little of the dressing. Besides, what if the bottle I brought leaked in my purse? I ask for the dressing on the side and only use a small amount. The only other cooked aspect of the salad is the olives. They only give about 4 Kalamatas, so I either leave them or eat them, depending on my mood. Why be so unbending that you can’t enjoy yourself in a social eating situation? If a restaurant can provide something raw, great, but if there’s something vegan on the menu that’s cooked, why not just go for it? It’s one meal. If 90% or more of what you regularly eat is raw, vegan and supremely healthy, then is it really going to be such a disaster to your lifestyle to eat a vegan, cooked meal every so often? Unless you have major food allergies or sensitivites, as Chicory does, I think it’s better to be a tiny bit flexible than to refuse to eat anything. You’ll only make your co-diners feel uncomfortable and potentially hostile toward your rigidity around food.

    I recently went to a Vietnamese restaurant that had a decent-sized vegetarian menu. Nearly every dish contained fried tofu or wheat gluten-based mock meats. I found one dish that was simply stir-fried fresh veggies. It didn’t come with rice, so I was happy. I ordered it, with no special requests. I’m sure there were questionable oils, MSG, and more salt than I would prefer, but what arrived was a lovely plate heaped with bok choy, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots and celery. It wasn’t raw, but it was only lightly cooked and it was a vegan feast. I put aside my raw requirements and dove in. I even used the condiments on the table, because as I mentioned above, it’s only one meal. It was tasty! It didn’t derail my raw sensibilities. It didn’t cause me digestive distress. It was a fairly pure meal, so I dug in and enjoyed it for what it was.

    Whenever possible, I look at menus online, so I can be sure I’ll find something. I have never called ahead, but it’s not a bad idea. I have used the allergy little white lie, when I sense that a restaurant doesn’t “get it” or won’t be as careful as I’d like. It usually does the trick. My motto with restaurants is: bend a little with regards to what’s on the menu and the restaurant will usually bend towards your needs a little too.

  • oh, I forgot, I don’t usually call ahead to chain restaurants, etc. If the place is nice enough that you need a reservation, they are more likely to accommodate your request :). I usually don’t even bother to ask at a chain restaurant though… a lot of stuff is made up in advance, like salad, and they just pick off whatever you asked not to have. Plus the lettuce is usually that horrid bagged white colored iceberg stuff with the shredded cabbage and carrots. And almost never have they charged me less even after items like chicken, cheese, have been removed…. it’s always the original price on the menu. not really fair, but that’s how it usually goes. I find that going out maybe 4 or 5 times a year, but to really nice establishments where you get treated really well, and with high quality food, is much more satisfying than eating out frequently and leaving the place with that still hungry, dissatisfied feeling! Make going out into a special occasion, with a bit of planning ahead, and you will always have a pleasurable dining experience

  • RawsikiRawsiki Raw Newbie

    Hey guys! Check out this website. It has a list of vegan options at restaurants and fast food places. Of course a lot of it is cooked, but there are raw options too!


  • springleafspringleaf Raw Newbie

    Chicory: luckily in england lots of the salads also come as a vegi option – without chicken, for a couple of pounds cheeper. This seens fair to me. Could you ask for something instead of the chicken/meat like a juice or something?

    I also go for the “can I have two side salads on one plate please option” If you go to the same place frequently and tip well you tend to get good treatment next time. (In the uk tipping is discretionary in most restaurants, and is given to thank good service.

    Shazzie has an ebook that you can download for free, it contains recipies that restaurants should be able to make from things they would normally have available, why not download it hand try handing that out at you fave places?


  • Our favorite is mexican. We order a green salad with a side of guacamole and salsa. You have to find out if they use mixed greens or iceberg. Only the mixed greens are worth it.

    Oh you have to avoid temptation with free chips.

    Another thing we do is order a side salad and ask for fresh veggies and no dressing or oil and vinigar or lemon.

  • RawKidChefRawKidChef Raw Newbie

    Oh man when the chip samples are out at the grocery store (which is every day) that is hard.

  • Hi All I do some traveling, the flying is easy as I can take my dehydrated crackers w/raw unpasturised cheese. My favorite resturaunt in Mesa, AZ is German and they have a wonderful salad bar with marinated salads. I like Greek Salads with out the meat and egg. Also the Japanese Sushi and Sashimi sometimes can be ordered with out rice and seaweed salad so so good. Other resturaunts I do the best I can and realize a tad of cooked food once in a while is not going to upset the apple cart. At a hotel resturaunt once I had a shrimp salad that I did enjoy and felt like a little kid getting away with something. I have been raw for three years. I turned 66 this summer and I feel fabulous.

  • I look for a mixed green salad or a spinach salad, but I usually only go to places that are raw-friendly, anyway.

  • RKC, the bread samples at my whole foods get me every time. I have asked the owner if he could raise the samples out of my reach, but sadly, he refuses.

    rhean: I love that statement “a tad of cooked food once in a while is not going to upset the apple cart”. BF poured some milk in my smoothie the other day, he missed his coffee cup… Poor thing he didn’t know what was going to happen! I just stirred it in and drank it :)

    Great thread! I find myself in restaurants with family once in a while. My family are all very understanding and too helpful, I really can’t complain, but there is never anything I will eat at restaurants and wind up giving in and having something cooked.

    I like the idea of bringing extras to put in a side salad. I can see myself whipping out seeds, figs, some sea salt and olive oil, slicing up an avo at the table…

    Mind your bidness, waitperson, I’m gettin my RAW ON!

  • maybe because I live in LA, its slightly easier.. * but I order a lot fruit salads, and if they have a side of fruit, I try to supersize it with an extra charge. I also get some tea on the side.

  • Restaurants, While raw. Fun fun fun.,,

    I don’t walk up to the waiter and ask if the chef could just whip up a raw dish and “just use raw ingredients and his imagination”. To just place that kind of burden on the chef (who’s used to just making what’s on the menu give or take a few requests, and certainly nothing all-raw) is unfair. All the raw cuisine (s)he may know is salads. I doubt that even world class chefs would know how to make oh, macadamia cream or flax-nori pizza or whatever.

    I don’t order “just a salad, dressing on the side” otherwise I’ll get the “OMG-are-you-serious-you’re-on-a-diet?-but-you’re-so-skinny” BS from the people I’m with. And I can’t tell them I just ate. For one, that’s a classic excuse used by anorexics. And two, how rude would it be to just pig out and get full before when you’ve planned to eat with company? (Which is why I wouldn’t even eat a huge raw meal to make myself full during dinner – maybe a snack, at most)

    I don’t pick out something vegetarian on the menu and cause a huge ordeal in front of my friends and hell for the waitstaff by requesting it with “all raw ingredients” and replace this with that, etc.

    And…no offense to TreeOfLife, but it would be disgustingly rude to bring my own goodies and pig out right there at the table – and worse, flinging the banana peels all over their table! That’s like me walking into a salon with a pair of scissors and using THEIR mirrors to cut my hair and leave hair scraps all over the floor and leaving).

    So, what does that leave? Leaving all my raw obsessions at home and just ordering what I want to treat myself with and enjoying the people I’m with!

    It’s no big deal – one little (or big) cooked meal isn’t going to kill you on impact. I get dragged out 4 or 5 times a week at least, and I’m still alive. I just make the best of the time I have alone.

  • i kinda agree with dogsupon…also a concern i have with ordering big salads at restaurants is that it is probably not good quality or organic, unless it is a health food restaurant and the pesticides you’d be getting are not good either..but then again, i guess better than ordering steak and potatoes;)

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