As Boston gets ready to kick off Restaurant Week, the Back Bay can boast some of the best restaurants in the region from big name steakhouses to cozy neighborhood bistros.
But it’s not always easy to push the bread basket away if you’re counting calories. Fortunately, the Back Bay has some healthy alternatives for those looking for lighter fare or following a vegan, gluten-free or other special diet.
Vlora, a charming family-owned restaurant located at 545 Boylston Street, was named after Chef/Owner Aldo Velaj’s hometown in Albania. His dishes reflect the adage “eat better and live better.”
The recipes come from the northern Mediterranean region of Albania, Greece and southern Italy using fresh ingredients flavored primarily by olive oil and fresh herbs. Health experts recommend following a Mediterranean diet because of its heart healthy benefits.
Tonya Laryukhina, manager of Vlora, says customers are looking for healthy alternatives. “Nothing is deep fried. We grill or roast our dishes. We also offer gluten-free and vegetarian dishes.”
“I think our customers appreciate the healthy way we prepare the dishes,” she added.
Boloco, located steps away on Boylston Street, offers primarily burritos, bowls, shakes and smoothies.
According to the website, they try to help people accomplish their health and fitness goals whether it’s gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, carnivore or other.
The website has a nutritional calculator that gives a breakdown of calories, protein, sodium and sugar content making it easy to plan ahead.
Healthy on the go
Juice, located at 145 Dartmouth Street, prides itself on being a wholesome juice bar dedicated to providing customers with healthier options on the go.
They don’t use anything artificial and also offer vegan and gluten-free options. You can also get a shot of bee pollen or gluten-free soy added to any freshly made smoothies.
Grabbing lunch from a food truck used to mean having to choose from greasy hot dogs or other high-fat items. But that’s changing. As part of Mayor Menino’s Healthy Food Initiative, food trucks hoping to peddle their wares in the Back Bay must include at least one healthy menu option such as fruits, vegetables or reduced-fat.
If you’re feeling ambitious and want a home-cooked meal made with fresh ingredients, pick up locally grown fruits and vegetables at the Copley Square Farmers Market along St. James Avenue, Dartmouth and Boylston Streets. The Farmers Market is held every Tuesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. from November.