So, as many of you know, I’m on the Atkins Diet. This can make dining out challenging, but not impossible. Below are some tips, along with a list of places I’ve found to be Atkins-friendly.
Breakfast is clearly the easiest meal to do on Atkins. In a pinch you can order from the side menu and get eggs, sausage, and bacon. That’s what Keith has dubbed my “triangle” breakfast, because it consists of three sides. LOL.
If you can find a restaurant that serves breakfast all day, you’re in. Also, remember to state up front you are ordering from the SIDE menu, because otherwise you’ll get charged for whatever egg, meat, and toast entreé they have (they’ll pull the carbs), plus your side, which will cost more.
Lunch/dinner is not impossible either. I’ve never run across a restaurant that will refuse to serve you a burger with no bun, and most places do have substitutes for fries or potatoes, such as a side salad. If not, just pass on the sides. If you’re at a higher-end restaurant, they are usually more than willing to let you pass on the potatoes and get and extra helping of veggies. Again, ask. It seems to work better if you can offer an alternative, rather than letting them figure it out. For instance, instead of asking, “Can I substitute something for the potatoes?” ask, “Can I have extra veggies instead of the potatoes?”. Remember, your server doesn’t have a clue that you’re on a special diet. Help them to help you. I’ve never actually run into a server who won’t try to accommodate you. They want you to be happy, as their tips depend on it. Servers who put up with my quirky dining habits with a smile and a “No problem!” get a fat tip and my return business.
Now, here’s some of my favorite places to eat Atkins-friendly:
The Egg & I, Longmont, CO: Egg & I is a franchise, but the Longmont location has been the only one so far that has actually offered a free side of bacon in place of the carb portion of a meal. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. I patronize them frequently just because of this Atkins awesomeness. All the Egg & I franchises, however, have excellent side menus. Also, on a whole, they have excellent service, and the food is always great. I’ve been to Egg & I restaurants in Ft. Collins, Loveland, and Longmont, and I have never had cause to complain. This is one of our go-to breakfast places. They also have some good Atkins-friendly salads for lunch. I like the Egg-septional omelette with a side of bacon. Mmmm mmmm good.
Dempsey’s, Fort Collins, CO: I love, love, LOVE Dempsey’s. The problem is, they have rosemary toast. ROSEMARY TOAST, people. It’s really fucking hard to say no. That said, they are VERY accommodating to the Atkins set, and if you’re far enough up the carb ladder they do offer a choice of fruit instead of potatoes for their breakfast sides. Try The Best Thing, the omelette that has turned me into a Dempsey’s omelette crack addict. I moved out of town and I’m still trying to find excuses to get one. No lie.
Pinocchio’s, Longmont, CO: When I found this place I thought I’d died and gone to Atkins heaven. Their breakfast menu actually still offers a low-carb option: forego the carbs and get an extra egg and extra cheese in your omelette. And OMFG, the food is awesome.
Oskar Blues, Longmont, CO: Habanero wings. HABANERO WINGS. Seriously the most kickass habanero wings ANYWHERE. Oh, they have salads too, but DID I MENTION THE HABANERO WINGS???? OMFG. OMFG. OMFG. They are AWESOME. Oh, there’s other flavors too, but again, DID I SAY HABANERO WINGS????
The Pumphouse, Longmont, CO: Habanero wings. Not as awesome as Oskar Blues, but still pretty damn good. Oskar’s are smoked, these aren’t. So, it probably depends on your preferences, but as much as I love these, I have to go with O.B.’s for top pick. Pumphouse has some damn good habanero wings, though, and they also have some other flavors, but for the life of me I can’t understand why you wouldn’t want habanero. They hurt in a good way.
Mulligans, Fort Collins, CO: Lots of good salads, wings and such. Always willing to work with your special order. Excellent customer service, but become a regular over there and they will treat you like you’re royalty. Come in enough and your drink will be on the bar and they’ll ask you if you want the usual for dinner. GOD I MISS THIS PLACE!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so spoiled.
Jim’s Wings, Fort Collins, CO: It’s called JIM’S WINGS. Do I need to say more? Many levels of hotness, take your pick. Great wings at great prices and you can call ahead for takeout. This was Keith’s “I’m sick, bring me food” fallback for years, because if you get them hot enough, NOTHING can live in that environment. Your germs will run screaming. This is another Fort Collins place I miss with a vengeance.
Café Athens, Fort Collins, CO: Best. Greek. Salad. EVER. Lots of lamb and tasty vegetables. LOVE this salad. LOVE IT.
Pourhouse, Loveland, CO: Okay, I JUST moved to Loveland a month ago, so I’m sure I’ll be working this section of my list for a bit. But The Pourhouse is super-friendly and is always willing to give you a burger sans bun or whatever the hell else you want. Oh, and their chili (which I am SURE is not Atkins-friendly but I STILL have to partake of from time to time) is seriously the reason I live. I AM NOT JOKING. I AM NOT JOKING. I AM NOT JOKING. Did I say I was NOT JOKING???? I will seriously eat a zero-carb diet for a week just to get a bowl of this stuff. It’s like culinary crack.
I’m sure I missed a few, so, Northern Colorado locals, let me know in the comments and I’ll update.