Best Restaurants for Low Sodium

 Best Restaurants for Low Sodium 

Low sodium pf changs ihelpc.com
I was on a lot of diuretics at this point. PF Changs w my daughter.

I love to eat out and have compiled a list of how to order if you have a health condition that calls for low salt or low fat. I had Hepatitis C and now live with non-alcoholic cirrhosis. Your doctor may have suggested low sodium due to heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney problems, or liver disease. Americans eat too much salt anyway and it is a good idea for anyone to reduce the sodium in their diet! Learning where to go and how to order is first on the agenda. This is also my list of the best restaurants for low sodium. We will look at everything from Italian to sandwich shops. When you’re ready to eat out, there are facts to know before you go.

Before you go: You are so wise to be checking out your options before you eat out!  Kudos for helping your body avoid sodium overload! Once you get the hang of it, you can keep nutritional information at your fingertips, order without creating a scene, and ask questions before food is placed in front of you. With all of the details of what to order worked out, you can lean back and enjoy a great time with friends or family!

Keep in mind that I have End Stage Liver Disease and I am ultra careful. You may not have to be so picky. It is worth it to me to watch my diet so that I can keep on enjoying my time on this wonderful planet! The diet I eat has saved my life and is worth every bit of effort!

best restaurant with low sodium pf changsI have nutritional links to many fast food restaurants on my phone so I can look them up easily. I pretty well know what I can have at most of our chains and fast food places. I always keep an eye out for mom and pop joints which enjoy catering to specialty diets.
Some restaurants will give you a nutritional handout. Just ask!

The first thing I do is read the nutritional content from the restaurant’s website. I try and do this ahead of time on the computer at home. I figure in sodium first, as well as fat and sugar content. Sodium is the big deal breaker for me. It did not take long for me to know which entrees to order at most major restaurants.  Now that I know exactly what to order, it is easy to relax and enjoy the evening out.

Does this sound like a lot of work? Well, I’ve done a lot for you and will just give you a sure fire list of best restaurants with low sodium that will give you a head start. This is one of those things I wish someone had done for me, but trial and error has given me a big lift up. As your liver loving best friend, you get the benefit of my experience and research.

Easy and Safe Bet at Any Restaurant:  A salad is a salad and can be found just about everywhere. I simply tell the waitress that I want lettuce and veggies only; no cheese, croutons, or salad dressing added. I ask for oil and vinegar on the side. Be sure and tell them you do NOT want a bottled vinaigrette dressing – there is just too much sodium. If they do not have oil and vinegar, I ask for a bowl of citrus fruits like lemon, oranges, or limes and squeeze it on top of my salad. I have friends who carry dressing packets with them. I’m so choosy with what I eat ( uh… I want to live) that I go with the oil and vinegar or fruit. Please yourself! If they forget and put cheese, I ask for another salad or just push it to the side. Cheese packs a lot of sodium, fat, and dairy though, so be sure to add it to your daily count. A salad like this is about 150 mg of sodium if it has tomatoes.

Protein punch – I always look for fish like salmon, tilapia, or mahi mahi. I have a few places that I will order a steak from also, like Charleston’s.  Instruct the waitress to tell the chef if you restrict sodium and to use NO seasoning that contains salt. Say it with a smile and they will bend over backwards to help. Be generous with the lemon….and the tip! Count on about 200 mg of sodium. Ask if the chicken comes preseasoned. If it does, you can bet it is going to have over 1,000 mg per serving. If not, tell them to hold the seasoning! Many chain restaurants pride themselves on adding herbs and holding the salt.

Rise and Shine - Wake up your body with a healthy breakfast! You can do this any time of day. IHOP is one of my faves! For your protein, think about how easy it is to order some scrambled eggs or even egg substitute! Ask them to hold the seasoning and you can pepper it up on the table. Did someone say omelet? Here is where you can have a blast with veggies like peppers and onions or spinach and mushrooms!  A serving of hash browns with toast or a big bowl of oatmeal always go great with eggs. Avoid the sausage and ask for a couple of strips of bacon. It’s an indulgence with 200 mg or so of sodium. Steer clear of the gravy as well. It’s heavy on salt. Plus, if they give you gravy, you’ll want a biscuit. We know that most biscuits contain at least 400 mg of sodium. No way is it worth the price your heart and liver will pay…

Other breakfast treats - Don’t foget the fruit! You can eat as much as you want! Pancakes are mouth watering good, but be careful. I only allow 1 large one and usually bring my own agave nectar to serve it with. Yawn. Weird healthy girl alert. Syrup is fine in regard to sodium, but the sugar can leave you feeling drained in a couple of hours. Most restaurants offer breakfast and that makes it easy to eat at IHOP, Denny’s, Waffle House, or Bob Evans, or any of the breakfast restaurants.

best restaurant with low sodium lasagnaBest options Italian – It’s usually safe to order a salad and plain marinara with pasta at any Italian Eatery. Occasionally I order an Alfredo Sauce and only eat ½ the order. It’s usually about 1,000 mg of sodium and fills me up quickly. You can probably eat on some lasagna or any baked dish if you have filled up on salad. I can play with the salad and get full actually. Many places will bake some fresh bread sticks without salt. I ask for it at Olive Garden, Johnny Carrino’s, and Macaroni Grill. Never a fuss! Napoli’s or chains like Cici’s, Mazzio’s and Pizza Hut usually have a buffet. Only 1 or 2 slices of pizza – then head to the buffet! I will guide you to the buffets below.

Best options for Mexican – I can feel my mouth watering now. I love all ethnic food, but Tex-Mex was made for me! I ask for a bowl of chips with no salt. They come piping hot that way too! Abuelos serves them with no salt every day! I allow 2 Tablespoons of salsa. At worst, salsa contains approximately 200 mg in that size of serving. The chips will be about another 200 mg.  Abuelo’s also has salmon, which is great for you with all those Omega Fatty Acids! I avoid QDoba ever since I questioned a friend whose kid worked there. They cook everything with salt, even the rice. You just have to be careful how to order. I go with a dish that has corn tortillas since they have almost no sodium.

low sodium restaurants
At Elote’s the Luchodors jump in the boxing ring for great entertainment while you enjoy your dinner!

Abuelos is a safe bet and so is Borders, but I eat at Taco Bueno or Bell too. Check out the low sodium fast food blog.  Avoid Chuys and Chilis.  They have 2 days worth of sodium in 1 entree. I save my sodium all day when eating out for an evening meal. Then I will eat a cheese enchilada with no enchilada sauce for a no fuss easy order.  I DO ask for extra lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers. I tell them I am restricted on sodium and to “run it through the garden” for me. There are a couple of local places that serve organic vegetables and pride themselves on sustainable living with all their entrees. There is one particular Mexican place that I can order 3 or 4 dinners from with zero guilt! Uh… that is, one entrée at a time. It’s local but if you’re in Tulsa, head to Elote’s. When you find a chain that is within healthy liver loving guidelines, shoot it to me in the comments or email. Really.

Best options for Asian food – This is where you can have some FUN! I love Ghengis Grill where you can pick your meat and veggies let the stir fry chef cook it to perfection. I avoid the sauces. Most of you can eat a few tablespoons as long as you avoid too much soy sauce. I also love P.F. Changs where I can order several items with no problems. Again, I avoid the soy, order brown rice and eat to my heart’s content. They even offer many gluten free items…. Including desert! Woohoo!

ghengis grill

Best options Sandwich shops – This can be a little deceiving. Lunchmeat may be low in fat, but it is usually high in sodium. I may order a veggie sandwich at Subway using Swiss cheese and the vinegar and oil dressing. Run it through the garden! If you can have a little salt, this is a great way to eat out. A bag of chips is usually 200 – 300 mg of sodium. Subway is a safe bet. 

Best options for Sea Food – I love Red Lobster and also Bonefish Grill. Red Lobster’s cheesy bread melts in your mouth, but it’s best to stop at one piece! Again, salmon and a baked potato or fries always works. Let your waiter know that you go loso. RL actually keeps baked potatoes that are NO sodium all the time. Just ask for it plain and add your own sour cream, which is low sodium anyway!  They have great salads here too! Bonefish offers great low sodium sides. Ask the staff for the specialty menu and you have lots of choices! The only place I avoid is Long John Silver’s and Captain D’s. Baked is better!

Applebee’s, TGIFriday’s, are NOT on my list of best restaurants with low sodium. I avoid them. They are not a friend to your body. It is too much work for me personally. When your liver is damaged, it has a hard time with storing and processing fats, sugars, and sodium. Heavy foods can weigh you down.  If you have heart disease, high blood pressure or cholesterol, this is true also. It is not worth it to eat a meal that can jeopardize your health goals. You can eat out by choosing wisely. That will help you to live longer and finish that bucket list!

Buffets - This is where you can have a blast! Load up on fresh veggies and fruit for the first trip. Stick with the dressing recommendations above. Avoid the canned beans or any other canned item. Look for fish for protein, and then check out the sides. Mashed potatoes are a no. Don’t be afraid to ask if they use frozen veggies. Steamed brocoli and frozen corn or green beans are usually pretty safe. I ignore the potato and macaroni salads since they are swimming in mayo. You may be able to eat some of these items and go higher on sodium than me. I don’t have an ounce of wiggle room.

Now you can head for the fruit section and fill up on desert. I will usually choose a piece of cake to go with some strawberries. Mmmm. Perfect way to spend time with friends or family and eat with NO guilt. By loving your body, you will be around for many family events to come!  We can go to Golden Corral, Ryan’s or any other buffet. The choice is yours!

Want to see the low down on low sodium for Fast Food? Check out this easy list that won’t leave you standing in line counting salt grams! Low Sodium Drive Thru made easy.

Eating out with liver disease felt like it was hardly worth the trouble most of the time.  But you know me, where there’s a will, there’s a way! So I hope this look at how dining out with high blood pressure, liver disease from NASH, fatty liver, hep c or cirrhosis give you the info you need to make good choices.

Dear friends, don’t forget that I am just a woman who survived over 30 years of a silent liver disease who is extending her life through nutrition. I am struggling to meet the demands of eating well and staying healthy. I do love sharing what I have learned about dining out and finding the Best Restaurants for Low Sodium. It has saved my life with hep c and cirrhosis.  It can benefit your body too – no matter what your health condition.

Lower sodium is smart eating! Ciao!  Karen:)

Be sure and check out my Low Sodium shopping list and Liver Loving Recipes section also! I even made a video blog about my struggle with low sodium on a Youtube. Check it out here!

18 thoughts on “Best Restaurants for Low Sodium

  1. This is an awesome blog post. Sorry I haven’t visited in awhile. Another restaurant to add especially in the South is Ruby Tuesday’s. They have an excellent low calorie menu and will cook to order with low sodium to no sodium. It’s my favorite restaurant and I eat there about once or twice a month. I love the Salmon with steamed broccoli and salad with a tiny bit of oil and vinegar dressing. They also have a cheesy biscuit that is delicious but full of salt. I do eat one and it has about 200 mg of sodium. You must try it soon. :)

    1. Joel,
      Honestly, that is one restaurant that I haven’t tried since my diagnosis. Thanks for sharing! It’s always good to have another option.

      Red Lobster also caters to low sodium and usually has baked potatoes ready to serve with NO salt! That was a huge surprise and a bonus. Happy eating out during the holidays to you!
      Thank you,
      Karen:)

  2. Hi,
    My husband has CHF and we eat at Ruby Tuesday’s once in a while – we start with the fresh salad bar (no prepared salads, just fresh raw vegetables – once in a while a little broccoli salad – they have oil and vinegar at the end of the salad bar), and the spicy tilapia with mango salsa is the lowest in sodium of the main courses (website nutritional information, which they update often). We order that with the zucchini side, no salt added. Or… the spaghetti squash.

    We go to Longhorn Steakhouse once in a while also – we get the Flo’s Filet without seasoning, the fresh steamed vegetable medley without salt or butter, and a side salad. If you go before 3pm, the price of the filet is reduced.

    There is a local greek restaurant that we go to also, where we order the grilled chicken platter (no salt on the chicken), roasted red peppers without salt, and greek salad with dressing and goat cheese on the side (to use sparingly).

    1. Susan,

      This is a great tip for those of us watching sodium. I turned down more invitations this holiday season! So Ruby Tuesday’s sounds like a great place to eat! What wonderful news!

      Filet is my favorite cut of steak so Longhorn Steakhouse sounds great too. I only eat 1/2 of the steak and save the rest for later. That may be a good Saturday afternoon late lunch!

      It blesses me that you are helping your husband with Congestive Heart Failure diet. It is a sweet spouse who goes along. But you will be gaining the benefits as well!

      I want to thank you so much for your comment and the inside scoop on some new restaurants. Those of us with a low sodium diet enjoy eating out also and knowing where to go is the trickiest part!

      All my best during the New Year!
      Karen:)

  3. Just one additional note – as far as “fast food” goes, the only take-out we get is a rotisserie chicken at Whole Foods. They have a lavender herbe and also a naked chicken that are both salt-free. If you move to their prepared deli area, any labels that are purple and noted as a healthy option (I’m forgetting the phrase on the label) are either very low sodium or no sodium items. Some we’ve tried are roasted no-oil vegetables, a great California quinoa salad – and if the choices don’t appeal to us, we pick up a lower-sodium Amy’s macaroni and cheese and split the package between us. There are also purple labels on one or two of the prepared soups in the deli area.

    1. Wow! I didn’t know about the purple labels at Whole Foods! This is going to change my life. We shop several health food stores depending where the best prices are that week. Whole Foods deli used to be a favorite place for me to pick up some fast food, but I have not had any in 3 years now.

      The quinoa salad is a great source of veggie protein which is great for those with a live condition. I actually laughed when reading this comment to my husband. He bought a rotisserie chicken at the grocers to snack on during the holiday rush. It smelled so good, but I didn’t have any. I’ll be giving this a try.

      Amy’s is always a pretty safe bet with most items. Like you said, it may see a little high in sodium, but if you split it between you, it’s not much.

      Thank you again for your comments and great advice for eating out and fast good dining with low sodium options!

      xo Karen)

      1. Hi Karen,

        I’m glad to be of help – also, there is an area in Whole Foods – near the deli – where they have “healthy – low or no sodium” brown rice and black beans, as well as some pre-packaged low-sodium items (they will have the purple label). And on the top shelf of this area, there are a lot of low-sodium salad dressings in small containers.

        Bolton Farms makes a low-sodium dressing, Raspberry Merlot Viniagrette, that is really good – I think 40mg sodium for two tablespoons. We were in our local Publix supermarket yesterday, and my husband spotted Mrs. Dash’s packaged chili seasoning (0 sodium) – we made the recipe on the back, adding some vegetables to it along with ground round and no-salt-added tomato sauce, and it was really good. We picked up some “no-salt-added” turkey breast by Boars Head in the deli also. Whole Foods carries a no-salt roasted turkey breast in their deli section that is good too.

        I only wish we had the money – and knowledge – to open a low-sodium restaurant in our area (Fort Lauderdale) – I talk to so many people who are no longer eating in restaurants because of their sodium restrictions.

        On P.F. Chang’s website, they list Phillip’s Better Lemon Chicken as low-sodium. We are going to try that soon – not all P.F. Chang’s carry it in our area. Their Buddha’s steamed delight is low sodium also.

        Thank you, Susan

        1. Susan,

          I’m going to be heading out this weekend to grab some new ideas. I’m making a shopping list from your comments! I think a low sodium restaurant would be amazing. There is simply no need for all the salt they use. I’ve traveled to other countries and they put us to shame. Last night, one of the kids were going to a French bistro here in Tulsa that everyone raves about. Very few items under 2,000 mg of sodium.

          I easily eat 1,500 a day. If I choose to splurge, it can go up to 2,000. We had fresh black eyed peas with think pork chops to season it for New Years Day. Some fresh kale cooked with a couple of slices of low sodium bacon and we were set! We finished off the cranberry salad from Christmas Day for desert.

          Did you know that Williams always has NO sodium? They have taco seasoning in addition to several varieties of chili seasoning. I don’t know if you can find it there. I have lots of Mrs. Dash in the counter.

          So glad we met and thanks again for the tips! I am excited about shopping now!

          xo Karen:)

  4. Thank you and I mean all of you Susan, Karen. I was just put on a 2000mg a day sodium diet, I was sure my life was over. I’ve been to at least 6 grocery stores and found 1 to 3 items mostly nuts. I will hit wholefoods tomorrow. Trader Joes was o.k. If you guys have any more tips on eating out so I can still take my wife out, I would deeply appreciate it. Thank you again. Stan

    1. Way to go! Being proactive is the best way to stay healthy! I ate at PF Changs yesterday and see that they have even more reduced sodium meals. Last week I went to a mexican place and they cooked a specialty fajita with chicken and veggies! They even reduced the price because I didn’t eat the beans and rice. That is a plus!

      It’s cool to find out that life is not over just because we have to change our diet. Wandering up and down the grocery aisles or looking at a menu can be depressing if you don’t know your options! Bon Appetit my friend and thanks for stopping by. I am sure my readers would enjoy hearing how it is working for you!
      Karen:)

    2. A couple of additional options are Panera. Look for their Power Menu, which is often not shown inside the stores: https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/featured-menu/power-menu.html There are good low-sodium options there.

      Interestingly enough, if you crave a burger, Five Guys is an excellent option. They will happily prepare your fries (which they do individually for each customer) with NO SALT on demand. Get your burger with the low-salt options (lettuce, tomato, raw onion, mustard) and it will be only 300mg of sodium. Dump the bun (which they will do – make it a lettuce wrap) and it’s even less.

      Generally, in nicer restaurants, look for grilled fish, as for it to be done without salt and served with lemon slices. Get salads without cheese, olives, etc., with oil & vinegar as the dressing and the sodium count will be very low.

      1. Thanks for submitting the link and tips! I actually ended up doing another blog just on fast food. I consider Panera to be a fast food type. They are not so bad!
        Another reader posted about Five Guys, but I didn’t know that they had the NO SALT option. There are 2 locations in Tulsa and I’m going to definitely give them a try. It’s just fun to be able to eat out and still watch the sodium content.
        I’m with you on the fish! It sounds like we eat a lot alike. Kudos to you for kicking the salt habit and giving your heart, kidneys, and liver a break!
        I really appreciate your feedback!
        xo Karen:)

  5. Hi Karen,..not sure if I told you about this item last time I wrote to you,..from Sprouts store,..Alpine Valley organic nine grain bread,..74mg a slice,..they also have a low sodium bread too,..I think it’s 20mg of sodium. I Love Sprouts! Also,..Doug and I have been making ‘pineapple whips’..tastes just like pineapple ice cream! All it is is a whole pineapple,..cut into chunks and frozen overnight,..then put it in the blender(I bought a ninja just for these!) with 1 cup of milk and blend until creamy,..de-lish!!!! A great dessert.
    By the way,..did I tell you your eating out blog is a total lifesaver????? Thanks for EVERYTHING Karen!

    1. I love Sprouts too! I’m in Sedona with my cousin right now and they don’t have one here. I found a man who bakes home made w no sodium for now. When I get home it will be cool to check out the Alpine Valley Bread. It seems like Natual Grocers has carried that also. Anyway, thanks for the tip!
      I am going to have to try the pineapple smoothie. I’ve been doing something similiar with bananas. I just peel them and put them in a bag in the freezer. Makes a protein smoothie uber sweet!
      I got the Ninja bullet and am having a blast with it. Since I’ve been here w my cuz, we’ve been trying all kinds of recipes!
      By the way… Did I tell you that you make my day????? Thank YOU for being my Bestie.
      xo Karen

    1. I’m happy to know that it helped. I am convinced that we all need to reduce our sodium for general health benefits. It is easy now even with fast food drive thru’s!
      I really hope that you will be able to see good results for your hearing loss issues as a result of your diet. Nutrition plays such an important part in our lives.
      xo Karen:)

  6. I have found that Longhorn steak house will cook and Outback will cook my steak with out seasoning and I request my sides with no salt or butter. They also have salmon with no seasoning

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