Casual Family Restaurants: These restaurants are usually the easiest places to find items that are low carb by nature. Most restaurants like Applebees, TGI Fridays, Red Robin, etc, have a large variety for you to choose from, and since you already know that you cannot eat bread, pasta and rice, you can usually avoid these high starch and carb items by choosing a salad or removing the bun from a burger. Skip all items that are fried, or think about getting a fish entrÃ©e that is just served with vegetables. As in all restaurants, if you politely inform your server that you are on a low carbohydrate diet, they will usually help you and make suggestions for your dinner.
Seafood Restaurants: I have found it very easy to eat low carb in seafood establishments. Most of these restaurants (chains like Red Lobster included) have a large variety of grilled and broiled seafood dishes that are naturally low carb. They often offer large salads with seafood, too, like Caesar salad with shrimp or salmon. Needless to say, choose side orders wisely and stay away from baked potatoes and rice if possible. For dessert, find out if the restaurant offers fresh fruit, but hold the whipped cream!
Steakhouse Restaurants: This is a favorite type of dining establishment for me on a low carb diet. By nature, most of the main courses in a steak house have no carbs at all! Some steak houses use butter on their steaks, but that's OK in low carb eating, so enjoy and feel no guilt! The tough part of eating in a steakhouse is passing on the bread and saying no to the potato choices, but try to enjoy a nice side of steamed veggies instead.
Diners: This is also an excellent choice if you are watching carbs. I personally love having breakfast as my dinner or lunch! An omlette is very filling, but instead of the hash brown potatoes or bread, ask if you can substitute a side of tomatoes and lettuce, side of cold slaw, or even a little fruit. Diners are usually like most American eateries in the fact that there are a lot of choices for a lot of different tastes. If your low carb plan allows for it, try some soup, too.
Mexican and Chinese: These are the most difficult types of restaurants to eat in on a low carb diet, in my opinion, because of all of the rice that is in most of the dishes offered in these cuisines. If you find yourself looking for items in a Mexican restaurant, try the fajitas, but skip the tortilla shells. In a Chinese restaurant, look for all vegetable entrees, and try to skip the rice.
In all restaurants, I would recommend asking your server up front for low carbohydrate suggestions. Many restaurants also have a Gluten-Free menu these days, and since gluten is bread, you may find many carb-friendly items on this menu.