The new year is upon us again, and so are the new year’s resolutions. Among all the pledges we will take—making more time for family, exercising, finally taking that trip abroad—a healthier diet is bound to be one of the most common.

While I can’t help with exercise regimen or your travel itinerary, I always have something to say about food. In 2018 I chose to start a “flexitarian” diet, which included eating vegetarian or vegan two to three days a week. I would say, for the most part, I was fairly successful—probably scoring somewhere around a 75 percent success rate. This year I resolve to increase that number to three or four days, in hopes of achieving a final goal of five days a week by 2020.

Not everyone is satisfied with the flexitarian method. Some may prefer to go all in on an extreme dietary change. Others will find making a small but easy-to-keep change more appealing and less prone to failure.

Which diet is right for you? Well, that depends. Some are able to trim their waistlines by eating mostly meat and cutting out carbs; others believe going vegan is the only way to live a healthy and moral life. Whatever dietary change one may be considering, finding new types of palatable food that conform to the new meal plan can be challenging.

Hopefully the following list can help. Below you will find five schools of thought on how to get to a healthier you, along with the most important part: where you can eat delicious food without cheating.


Cutting out all animal products is now easier than ever, as more and more restaurants in the eco- and health-conscious Bay Area offer vegan-friendly menu items. Loving Hut, perhaps the most popular worldwide vegan chain makes it simple. Everything on their menu is vegan, and with three locations throughout the South Bay, you won’t have to travel far. On the mom-and-pop side of vegan, Good Karma in downtown San Jose is a pub-style vegan eatery that features a wide array of dining choices like Jamaican jerk and Indian chana masala—plus a serious selection of craft beer. Got a hankering for something sweet? For those with a sweet tooth, a branch of the vegan cinnamon roll chain, Cinnaholic, just opened downtown as well.

Loving Hut
Multiple locations

Good Karma Artisan Ales & Café
37 S 1st St, San Jose

115 E San Carlos St, San Jose


You don’t have to be a Pisces to go pescatarian. It simply means that the only flesh you eat comes in the form of fish—molluscs are cool, too. If you’re thinking it sounds too expensive to eat sushi and oysters all day, don’t worry. Most pescatarians I know are essentially vegetarians who partake of ocean delights only on occasion. Plus, there are ways to satisfy a fish fix without breaking the bank. I suggest any Mexi mariscos joint, such as Día de Pesca or Maverick’s Mexican Grill; both are longtime favorites of mine and serve up some of the best and freshest fish tacos around. For table service dining, the locally founded chain The Fish Market has three locations throughout the South Bay; there you will find a terrific oyster bar and tasty mesquite-grilled fish.

Día de Pesca
55 N Bascom Ave, San Jose

Maverick’s Mexican Grill
1111 Meridian Ave #5, San Jose

The Fish Market
Multiple locations

Keto, Paleo & Atkins

While there are subtle differences to be found among the keto, paleo and Atkins diets, they all have something in common: meat. All three of these diets look to protein and fats to serve as the body’s primary energy source, and seek to limit the intake of carbohydrates. When it comes to loading up on meat for a fair price, all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue joints are the way to go. While Gen Korean BBQ House is the most popular choice, their wait times can be excruciating. Relative newcomer Q-Pot is usually much less busy, they also feature a sweet tablet ordering system and they even have hot pot available—a rarity in the Korean barbecue world. If you can’t wait to cook your own meat, then might I suggest ordering some expert American barbecue (sans the sugary sauce, of course) by the pound from any of our local barbecue joints. Smoking Pig BBQ’s ribs and burnt ends are world-class, while newcomer Mesquite and Oak has some of the most legit brisket I’ve ever had in California.

Q-Pot Korean BBQ & Hot Pot
1610 E Capitol Expwy, San Jose

Smoking Pig BBQ
Multiple locations

Mesquite & Oak
856 N 13th St, San Jose


While vegetarianism and veganism are quite similar, the biggest and most telling difference is that vegans do not eat eggs, dairy or honey, while vegetarians often do. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but consider the fact that most standard baked goods contain some form of dairy or eggs. A favorite of veg-heads is the aptly named chain Veggie Grill, which offers everything from salads to burgers and even comfort foods, such as mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. Jerusalem Grill in Campbell has a veg-friendly Middle East feast called the Jerusalem Veggie Plate that features dolmas, baba ghanouj, hummus, falafel and tabbouleh. Indian food is also another favorite of vegetarians, and one of my favorites for a quick, tasty and inexpensive Indian lunch is Chaat Café; with a lunch special starting at $6, their malai kofta plate—with its buttery, spicy sauce—is terrific and a mango lassi is a must to help quench the heat.

Veggie Grill
Multiple locations

Jerusalem Grill
1740 S Winchester Blvd, Campbell

Chaat Café
834 Blossom Hill Rd, San Jose


Probably the most wishy-washy of all the options, this is the regimen for those who like to eat healthy but don’t want their choices limited by restrictive diets. For this diet it’s important to select places that have a healthy menu with lots of veggie-friendly options, while still featuring some carnivorous delights. Aqui has long been one of my favorites for fresh, healthy organic cuisine at a very reasonable price point. Their menu is a fusion of Tex-Mex and Asian cuisine, and features a nice variety like Filipino chicken adobo, Mexican enchiladas and even vegetarian Thai peanut bowls. They also have five locations, so one is never far away. New-to-us Mendocino Farms is another spot that features mostly vegetarian fare with a carnivorous twist. The best part about Mendo is their menu is seasonal and there’s always something new to discover. Both of these choices do very well with the adult beverages, as Aqui’s swirls are legendary for their strength, and Mendo offers beer and wine samples (aptly named “bamples”) to help diners choose their libations.

Multiple locations

Mendocino Farms
Multiple locations