In its July 2014 issue, Time Magazine ranked the San Francisco Bay Area the second healthiest place to live in America. Crediting it as the "birthplace of farm-to-table" dining, the story provides a compelling portrayal of the Bay Area as a healthy foodie's heaven. Indeed, this area has a special focus on real food, sustainable and seasonal farming, and support for local agriculture. Bringing this proud characteristic of San Francisco's food scene to the forefront are three restaurants that offer menus that undeniably emphasize nutrition and real ingredients, while also maintaining reasonable prices. The subtle Mission storefront and minimalist white wall make Green Heart Foods an easy target to miss. Seating is (very) limited, but what this cafe lacks in strong presence, it more than makes up for in fresh, healthy food offerings. GHF has options for every kind of healthy foodie. For macrobiotic eaters, there are whole grain, veggie bowls and hearty salads. If you're gluten-free, you'll love the breakfast (or lunch) Superhero Bowl. If you're vegetarian, or strictly vegan, GHF offers three different raw breakfast bowls and vegan muffins. Their popular blue plate specials, which change daily and typically includes a hearty dish of vegetables, complex carbs, and healthy starches, keep the menu fresh and interesting. This place is a gem for breakfast and lunch, open everyday from 8-3. By 3 pm, most dishes have sold out, and the raw, vegan cookie jars sit empty. GHF may easy to miss, but after one visit, you will be a regular. A lively local vibe buzzes down Judah St in Ocean Beach. With small retailors and coffee shops moving into the area, Judah provides a stretch of authentic places to eat, and one of the best is the seriously delicious Judahlicious. This place is the perfect spot to take out-of-towners when they want a true San Francisco eating experience, and you won't have to wait 2 hours for a table while fighting for stool space at the bar. The laidback surfer vibe and the vegan, mostly raw menu have true character and nutrition. The smoothies pack in a list of ingredients that make you feel like you sampled a garden…and then somehow happened upon a healthy fats and superfood forest. Their raw entrees are mostly made with sprouted nuts (so nut allergies take caution!) and raw veggies. Their vegan options spin-offs of traditional restaurant staples, like chili and burritos. They even offer raw tacos. If you've still got room at the end of the meal, try the raw and gluten-free sweets on display, and forget any sweet tooth regret, because these are indulgences you can even feel good about. "Thank you," is what we say to our third recommendation, or should we say, "Gracias!" Gracias Madre, that is, for a healthy revision of Mexican food that still delivers Mexican favorites with flare. A skeptical foodie might wonder how a Mexican restaurant could convincingly reinvent key ingredients to Mexican dishes, like cheese and chicken, by using vegetarian substitutes. Gracias Madre's nut-based cheese is, dare it be said, even better than dairy cheese. The menu heavily incorporates legumes, avocados, corn tortillas, spicy mole, fresh pico de gallo, and, of course, a filling drizzle of cashew cheese. The ingredients are fresh, the food is authentic, and you won't leave feeling like you need to lie down for the afternoon to digest a cheesy chicken burrito. Save room for the vegan fudge brownie. With San Francisco's restaurants in constant competition to be the latest and greatest for its ultra-foodie audience, these three restaurants stand out for their successful effort to offer food that isn't just good, but good for you. Other restaurants are relying on trendy dishes, like fried bone marrow, to distinguish themselves. These three must-visits should not only be praised for their unique approach to food, but also for their commitment to nutritious meals.
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