New year, new diet? Here’s where you can find everything from keto to gluten-free

Meat-heavy options are available for a keto-based regimen at Rare Society.
(Haley Hill Photography)

Restaurants offer dishes designed for keto-based, plant-based, vegetarian, gluten-free and pescatarian lifestyles


With the new year comes new resolutions, especially in our eating lifestyle. The introduction of the Impossible meats in 2018 forged the way for many longtime vegans and hard-core carnivores (doctor’s orders) to follow a plant-based, vegan diet, while some with goals to shed a few pounds turned their taste buds to trying foods with more protein and less fat, like seafood. Regardless what diet trend you’ll be following in 2020, here’s a list, although not comprehensive, of local restaurants serving dishes full of substance but not lacking in flavor.

Keto: ultimate low-carb

Rare Society offers followers of this diet craze a meal high in lean protein and fat with dishes ranging from filet mignon carpaccio and Scottish salmon to dry-aged pork chop and prime porterhouse steak. They can be topped with sauces like the house TRG crack sauce or bearnaise sauce, and served with sides like truffle creamed spinach, roasted mushrooms with thyme, garlic and egg yolk or cheesy broccoli. 4130 Park Blvd., San Diego. Reservations: (619) 501-6404.

Plant-based: mindful eating

Impossible Burger.
(Haley Hill Photography)

Corner Drafthouse chef Ruben Zamarripa offers two items not listed on the menu but are available upon request. For a dish with all the flavor of wings without the meat, try the roasted buffalo cauliflower, tossed in buffalo sauce and topped with scallions. Hold the blue cheese crumbles and replace the ranch dressing with Vegenaise for dipping, or eat them plain. Missing meat? Try the Impossible Burger, a veggie patty with soyrizo, caramelized onions, lettuce and tomato. Substitute the aioli and cheddar cheese with Vegenaise and vegan cheese. 495 Laurel St., San Diego. (619) 255-2631.

Portobello Burger.
(Haley Hill Photography)

Bier Garden offers a variety of menu items that can be prepared vegan upon request like the grilled portobello mushroom sandwich, piled high with grilled portobello, heirloom tomato, pickled red onion, arugula, roasted red pepper and a fig spread. Order with no cheese to make this entrée completely vegan. The sautéed edamame can be ordered as-is, with garlic and soy sauce topped with kosher salt. 641 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas. (760) 632-2437.

Tortilla Soup.
(Kelly Bone)

The Westgate Hotel executive chef Fabrice Hardel has crafted a menu for every diet type, including vegan. Selections include a freshly baked bread dipped in seasoned olive oil, sun-dried tomato umami and green olives, and a traditional tortilla soup (sans the chicken and cheese) a corn, tomato, vegetable broth, topped with ribbons of smokey guajillo chili. 1055 Second Ave., San Diego. Reservations: (619) 238-1818.

Vegetarian: no meat, please

Smoked Carrots and Baby Beets.
(Haley Hill Photography)

Trust chef Brad Wise knows his way around vegetables and has created several simple but flavorful dishes like the smoked carrots and baby beets served with grains, aged Manchego cheese, red onion, smoky yogurt, tarragon and pistachio; and the wood-grilled cauliflower with golden raisins, mint, serrano aioli, black lentils, cilantro and curry vinaigrette. Indulge in a Trust favorite, ricotta agnolotti (pasta) served with sunchokes, black garlic streusel, black truffle and basil-scented panna (italian cream). 3752 Park Blvd., San Diego. (619) 795-6901.

Pan con Tomate (bread with tomato).
(Haley Hill Photography)

For all of the herbivores, Zinqué suggests its pan con tomate, a baguette rubbed with garlic and tomato and topped with tomatoes and avocado. The French bistro’s Le Bowl hits all the major food groups for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians by offering a full meal of brown rice, avocado, tomato, arugula, Comté (a French cheese), cilantro and sriracha. Want dessert? Share a pear tart with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. 2101 Kettner Blvd., San Diego. (619) 915-6172.

Gluten-free: No wheat, rye or barley

20|Twenty's menu is nearly all gluten-free.
(Haley Hill Photography)

Diners looking to avoid gluten will have their plates full at 20|Twenty — nearly all the menu is gluten-free. Executive chef Julian Quinones has created plates like roasted beets and seasonal citrus with wild arugula, fennel, red onion, almonds, citrus tarragon vinaigrette and aged Fiscalini cheddar; and entrees like the Diver scallops with grilled king mushrooms, asparagus, tomato confit and sweet potato romesco (sauce); or the 16-ounce Cooks Ranch Heritage pork porterhouse with apple relish, cabbage and sweet potato hash, apple-sage gastrique (flavoring) and pork demi-glace. 5480 Grand Pacific Drive, Carlsbad. Reservations: (760) 827-2500.

7 Mile Kitchen's Duck Confit Pizza.
(Casey Figlewicz)

7 Mile Kitchen offers ample choices for gluten-free dining, including smoked wings in lemon herb or spicy buffalo sauce, plus an entire list of artisanal wood-fired pizzas made with a gluten-free crust and topped with Brie, arugula, duck confit and a blueberry balsamic gastrique (flavoring). They also offer gluten-free gelato for dessert. 5420 Grand Pacific Drive, Carlsbad. (760) 827-2514.

Cheese Wheel.

If you love pasta, then order Monello‘s gluten-free pasta served with your choice of gluten-free tomato-based sauces: marinara and arrabbiata (a spicy sauce made with red chili peppers). The menu also includes several gluten-free entrees, like roasted pork shank and mashed potatoes; and salmon fillet in a white wine and lemon-caper sauce served with roasted tomatoes and mashed potatoes. 750 W. Fir St., San Diego. Reservations: (619) 501-0030.

Torta Caprese, flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream.

Bencotto offers a Milanese meal for gluten-free watchers. For pre-dinner munching, start with sliced-to-order formaggio cheese, salumi meats and prosciutto di Parma. Order the gluten-free pasta with your choice of marinara or arrabbiata gluten-free sauces. Sink your sweet tooth into an Italian, soft, flourless, chocolate-almond cake served with whipped cream. 750 W. Fir St., Suite 103, San Diego. Reservations: (619) 450-4786.

Macarons come in seasonal flavors.
(Patisserie Melanie)

Patisserie Melanie chef Melanie Dunn says gluten-free patrons can indulge in any of her traditional macarons made with seasonal flavors like chai tea, Earl Grey, espresso and matcha. Other options include any of Melanie’s caramels, which come in sea salt, espresso and cinnamon, as well as her seasonal jam collection featuring orange, peach and pear. 3788 Park Blvd. Suite 4, San Diego. (619) 677-2132.

Pescatarian: plant-based, heart-healthy

Fort Oak's Seafood Tower comes in two sizes.
(Jim Sullivan)

At Fort Oak, pescatarian options for seafood enthusiasts run the gamut. Choices include the seafood tower (offered in two sizes), served with oysters, clams, prawns, Jonah crab claws, Maine lobster, lobster hamachi poke, scallop aguachile and marinated tuna; the garlicky hearth-grilled prawns with Namasu pickles, salt and pepper lime and a kimchi-aioli dipping sauce; and the Baja striped bass with Brussels sprouts, roasted pear, charcoal turnip, preserved orange and a scallop beurre blanc sauce. 1011 Fort Stockton Drive, San Diego. Reservations: (619) 722-3398.

Ahi Tuna Nachos.

A large portion of JRDN‘s menu is dedicated to the sea and offers seafood lovers and pescatarians an ocean of choices like the ahi tuna nachos (wonton chips), topped with avocado, mango, Fresno chili, chives, shiso, cilantro, sriracha aioli and sesame seeds. Drink a glass of white wine or rosé with an entree of scallops, served with mushroom jam, smoked mushroom consommé, tempura enoki mushrooms and kohlrabi (German for cabbage turnip) fondant. 723 Felspar St., San Diego. Reservations: (858) 270-2323.