If you’re new to our Dining Out Low Carb guides, a warm welcome to you! Through these guides, categorised by cuisines, we share the best low carb meals to have and foods you should avoid. They’re super handy for your next outing, and we’ve already done an Italian and Japanese guide.
As Aussies, we couldn’t possibly miss out on doing one for the pub or bistro! There’s going to be a lot of things that are just straight up out of the question, so prepare yourself. But if you’re a little bit clever, and opt for salad or veg instead of chips, there are plenty of delicious options to be had.
I’ve used my old local, The Figtree Hotel, located around an hour south of Sydney, as the source for these food options because I think it’s quite reflective of the types of food on offer at many pubs all around Australia.
Foods to Avoid When Eating Low Carb at the Pub or Bistro
🚫 Chips #donteven
No surprises here. Chips are potato, and potatoes are not low carb.
If your pub is super trendy and they do kale chips, then that’s a different story – although I question if you can even call kale chips a “chip”. Tasty as they can be, it’s more dried lettuce than chips, but definitely a low carb alternative if you’re looking for something with crunch!
Regular ol’ chips or french fries are around 40% carbs, so a 100g (small-ish) serve has around 40g of carbs. That’s more than I eat in a day.
🚫 Mashed Potato
I’m yet to see any pubs do a Cauliflower Mash, if they did…it would be amazing. Probably your more trendy pubs and clubs in the city would have this one and that would be a great way to eat low carb at the pub.
Let us know if you’ve found a place that does cauliflower mash!
🚫 Pizza or Pasta
A pub staple, cheap and often delicious, but unfortunately not low carb. Not to mention the pasta serves are at least 2 times larger than a ‘regular’ serve.
If you’re looking for low carb Italian options, check out our Guide To Low Carb Options For Italian Cuisine!
Foods to Consume in Moderation (Sometimes) When Eating Low Carb at the Pub or Bistro
If you’re not following a super strict diet or having a bit more of a “cheat day”, these options still have lower carbs and won’t give you a full on carb coma afterwards.
👉🏼 Chicken Schnitzel with Salad
This is going to vary a lot between venues.
If you see “lightly crumbed”, then it’s a good sign it’s probably going to be lower. Best way is to eyeball a few other patron’s meals and see how crumbed it appears to be.
I found various figures online but a good ballpark would be around 15-20g of carbs per serve of chicken schnitzel. As I said before, the trick here is to go for salad or vegetables (roasted or steamed), not chips or mashed potato.
👉🏼 Chicken Parmigiana with Veg
Similar to the chicken schnitzel above, this is really going to vary from place to place.
The good news is if the schnitzel is okay, the Parmi should be too as it’s generally the same, just with the added deliciousness of tomato, ham and cheese.
Parmigiana will also be around 15-20g of carbs per serve if the menu states it’s lightly crumbed. If it’s not, it could be anywhere up to 50g of carbs so best check it out first.
👉🏼 Salt & Pepper Squid
This can be fantastic and low carb, but more often than not, pubs and bistros use crumbed calamari for this one.
If your pub uses proper squid it’s often only very lightly coated, so this dish gets the green light, having only around 5-10g carbs per serve.
However for most places, the crumbed calamari (as shown here) is used in which case this dish is moderately carb-heavy having around 20g of carbs per serve.
The Best Low Carb Options at the Pub or Bistro
These six great options are just a few of the many ways you can eat low carb at the pub or bistro. The trick is to read the menu properly and if you have any questions about the food, just ask! With the rise in all the food intolerance recently, bistro staff are more knowledgeable than ever about what’s each dish.
✅ Steak & Veg
Simple, available everywhere and definitely low carb!
Steak doesn’t have any carbs itself, being all protein and fats. It’s the sauce that you’ve gotta watch out for here!
Which classic Pub sauce is the lowest carb?
Lesson: If you’re full keto, just ask for butter, salt and pepper.
✅ Crispy Skin Salmon
A favourite of mine is crispy skin salmon, the saltier and crunchier the skin the better!
Salmon has around 20g of Protein and 13g of Fat per 100g and ZERO carbs! A deliciously healthy choice. Opt for a salad or veggies over chips or mash.
✅ Chicken Boscaiola
Not the Pasta variety.
Chicken Boscaiola is often found both as a stand alone dish and as a pasta dish, so make sure you’re not looking in the pasta section when you order this one!
Creamy mushroom, bacon and wine sauce over grilled chicken breast. Sounds pretty damn divine.
A serve of Chicken Boscaiola only contains approx. 5-10g of carbs!
✅ Crusted Lamb Rack
Mmmm. Lamb. For when you’re feeling a little bit fancy.
The lamb rack is coated with a herb and garlic crusting, and is delicious, tender and a healthy low carb main! Often served with mash and vegetables, just hold off on the mash and you’re good.
The crusting on the lamb would add around 10g of carbs.
✅ Dry Rub Spicy Chicken Wings
You’ll need to be a bit careful with this one.
If the menu says something like “spiced chicken wings” or “hot wings”, then you’ve got the green light but if the menu suggests “sticky barbeque wings” or similar then you’ll probably want to give these a miss.
✅ The dry spiced rub chicken wings have only a few grams of carbs per 500g serve.
🚫 Any sticky barbeque wings could have as many as 20g of carbs as bbq sauce is mostly made of sugar.
✅ Chicken Caesar Salad
A favourite of mine and the token salad at most pubs around the country.
Chicken Caesar salad is a great low carb dish when you make one small tweak…ask for it without the croutons.
I know, I know, but croutons are bread and bread is carbs, so even a relatively small amount of croutons has a large amount of carbs. If you are a fan of croutons though, we have a super easy Low Carb High Protein Croutons recipe for your next home cooked meal!
Ask for this dish without croutons and you’ve got salad leaves, parmesan cheese, bacon, egg, creamy caesar sauce and grilled chicken, all super delicious and all super low carb.
One Chicken Caesar salad without croutons, has only around 5g of carbs and a massive 40g of protein 👍
Want to make Pub-Style Burgers at home?
Why not have a Friday night in, and whip up some pub-style low carb burgers?!
They’re easy to make and totally customisable to suit your diet and palate. You might be thinking “Bread is high in carbs though…”because you’re right, but not with our 6 Aussie Seeds Protein Bread Mix. A single pack makes 8 BIG buns, each with almost 30g of protein and only 3g of carbs.
Check out our Low Carb High Protein Bread Rolls recipe.
Protein Bread Mix - 6 SeedsAUD$ 14.00
Protein 6 Seeds Bread Mix is Keto Friendly and Gluten Free. Easy to make and delicious toasted for a fast keto breakfast or lunch....
With the rise of healthy eating and food trends, it’s been much easier to find a keto friendly option for your low carb diet. Whilst you might have to skip out on the fried chicken or potato (fries and mash), it doesn’t mean there aren’t still delicious low carb dishes available to you! Hopefully this guide will be handy on your next lunch or dinner out at the pub.
What’s your favourite low carb options when you eat out at the pub or bistro? We’re curious to hear your thoughts.
- An avid barefoot trail runner, explorer, creator, and keen learner. I'm incredibly humbled by everyone who's helped The Protein Bread Co. to grow to where it is today – actively supporting our mission to help 5M Australians and 20M people globally to live fitter, healthier and happier lives. You can reach out to me via Twitter or Instagram @thelowcarbgiant, Facebook @lukehopkins, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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