McAllen is known for having some of the best Mexican food in the country, and while we take pride in our rich culinary culture, locals have also embraced the healthy eating lifestyle. The shift to dining at health conscious eateries is more popular than ever, so in an effort to help you recover from your latest burger binge, I’ve uncovered 4 of the best places to eat healthier in McAllen.
Fresh & Tasty 123 Nolana Ave, McAllen, Texas
Fresh & Tasty isn’t reinventing the wheel with its salad bar concept; it’s just mastering it. Since opening November 2015, this eat-healthy, feel-great place has consistently delivered perfectly sized portions of prepared salads and gourmet soups and sandwiches. I go for the two-scoop combo, which includes your choice of any two scoops of chicken, tuna or pasta salad along with a generous mound of mixed greens and a refreshing cup of fresh-squeezed lemonade. The difference here is its made-from-scratch salad dressings, and my can’t-miss pick is the house specialty, mustard vinaigrette. Fresh & Tasty is a go-to lunch spot for the health-conscious eater. You can order in advance, take it to go, or sit and enjoy a balanced diet of protein and veggies in its well-lit dining area. The good news is the restaurant plans to expand, giving loyal patrons more reasons to come back for fresh eats.
Greens & Lemons 2707 E. Griffin Pkwy, Mission, Texas
Venture just outside McAllen’s city limits, into neighboring Mission, and you’ll find this unsuspecting health food haven. Greens & Lemons makes healthy eating a priority, offering up a seemingly endless menu of high quality, low calorie bites that are good for your well being and your waistline. Whether you’re a vegan or vegetarian, prefer your food in gluten-free form, eat raw, go paleo, or just want to eat clean, its fine-tuned menu of Mediterranean-inspired dishes has exactly what you’re looking for. The Buffalo Cauliflower is a fan favorite amongst regulars happy to chow down on this meat-free take on an American classic, and it’s a must-try menu item if you’re a first-timer. I also opted for the Pistachio and Lemon-crusted Salmon, which features always-fresh, never frozen wild, Canadian salmon. Pair it up with your choice of cous cous or brown rice with a side of fresh greens, and even the most die-hard carnivores will be chomping at the bit to come back.
Feed your belly and your brain. Green’s & Lemons offers cooking classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10am-noon.
Gumbo’s Deli 1001 South 10th St. Ste F2, McAllen, Texas
Gumbo’s Deli makes healthy eating without sacrificing taste its mission. The hidden away health-conscious eatery is tucked in the corner of the Tiffany Plaza on 10th Street, but those who know about this out-of-view eatery tout its boat-sized salad bowls and toasted-to-perfection ciabatta sandwiches. I went straight for the popular Creole ciabatta sandwich, which features hearty chunks of diced chicken breast, turkey bacon, tomatoes, onions and melted mozzarella cheese. For an additional $2.99, you get a side salad and a drink. I chose the fresh made Pepino Limonada and opted for the Island salad, on my co-workers recommendation. There was nothing “side” about this side salad, which made me wonder what the regular bowl of greens looks like. With ingredients like mango, strawberries, goat cheese, caramel pecans, spinach, cranberries and mixed lettuce, this oversized bowl offers up your daily dose of fruits and veggies in one boat-sized bowl of deliciousness. Gumbo’s Deli is opening a second location in North McAllen, where it will share space with another popular eatery, Pollito. Its new location will have drive-thru service, giving on-the-go eaters a healthy alternative to fast food.
Naturalisssimo 1001 South 10th St., McAllen, Texas
Naturalisssimo is for those whose palates truly avoid meat, and compared to the aforementioned hard-to-find eatery, Naturalisssimo is a covert secret agent, sent back in time to convert the most primal meat-eaters into meatless Monday believers. You can find the vegetarian-friendly restaurant inside Major Health Foods. Its diner-like atmosphere has table seating for six, or belly up to the healthiest bar in McAllen, where six stools overlook its quaint kitchen. Naturalisssimo keeps it simple; offer a few daily menu items, paired with brown rice, a small side salad, and its fresh juice pick-of-the-day, and you’ve got yourself a guilt-free meal fit for the most committed herbivorous fruitarian.
What’s cooking: Naturalisssimo also boasts the RGV’s first vegan-friendly food truck. You can find it at the McAllen Food Park Tuesday through Saturday after sun down. Follow on Facebook to make sure it’s open first though.
These restaurants serve up better-for-you-bites without sacrificing taste, making healthy eating easier than ever. If you’re looking for more fit-friendly eateries, check out my article about these healthy restaurant options.