How To Order Low Carb at TGI Friday’s
TGI Friday’s is a casual dining restaurant whose name stands for “Thank Goodness It’s Friday.” Most of the time, you’ll find families dining here, but it’s also a good place to go when you want to watch the big game.
Like most American chain restaurants, TGI Friday’s offers a wide variety of dishes that range from wings, burgers, and pasta to chicken and steak. They also have a full bar and offer free chips and salsa if you sign up on their website, which you’ll want to avoid if you’re eating low-carb.
However, if you’re traveling or you find yourself in a social obligation where TGI Friday’s is your only option for food, then there are a couple of ways to make it work. Here’s how.
Tips For Ordering at TGI Friday’s
Before you visit any casual chain restaurant or fast food places, keep in mind that the quality of food won’t be nearly as good as what you can buy at the health food store.
TGI Friday’s mentions on their nutritional menu that they provide all-natural chicken, but the term “all-natural” is not regulated and nutritionists know that it doesn’t really mean anything.
When buying chicken, eggs, or meat, you want to look for organic, pasture-raised, and grass-fed. Additionally, most food manufacturers who don’t use antibiotics, growth hormones, and other chemicals in their food will proudly share this information with you. You can assume that any animal product that doesn’t use these words to describe their food is full of chemicals that you could avoid by picking better ingredients.
Also, keep in mind that low-carb doesn’t necessarily fit ketogenic standards. For example, some fruits and vegetables are fine for a low-carb diet but they are too starchy for keto dieters. If you’re trying to stay in ketosis, then it’s all about the carb/fat/protein ratio.
Low-carb dieters can be less picky about whether there is squash or carrots in their vegetable medley. On the other hand, keto dieters who accidentally indulge in too many starchy fruits and vegetables can easily kick themselves out of ketosis.
Use the following tips to help keep it low-carb at TGI Friday’s.
#1. Be picky about how your food is prepared
Many chain restaurants make their food taste better by deep frying them or covering them in sauces instead of using anti-inflammatory herbs, healthy oils, and high-quality meats and produce. It’s a cheap way to improve the flavor of the food without necessarily enhancing the quality.
This might seem harmless if you only eat out occasionally. However, sauces are full of empty calories that contain refined sugar while deep-fried foods are coated in breading. A little bit adds up, especially if you’re on a restricted carb diet, and can ruin your weight loss results or revert you back to a glucose-burner.
After a quick glance over the menu, you can see that nearly every chicken, seafood, and steak dish at TRI Friday’s is either coated in some type of sauce or fried. The center-cut sirloin and the New York strip are the only two dishes that are prepared with lemon-butter instead of a sugary sauce.
You can avoid added sauces and deep-fried food at TGI Friday’s by asking for grilled meat instead of crispy, crusted, or fried, and having the cook prepare your food dry. If you need something to top your steak or burger with, then ask for an extra slice of cheese, sour cream, guacamole, or sauteed onions and mushrooms.
Note: there is a difference between cheese sauce and melted cheese. Cheese sauce may include milk and flour to help thicken it up and make it creamy, so be sure to ask for melted cheese every time.
#2. Know your sides
Most dishes at TGI Friday’s will come with your choice of sides. The nice thing about side dishes is that you can usually change them up without too much trouble.
Of all the side dishes offered at TGI Friday’s, a side house salad and the super veggies are your only two low-carb options.
Keto dieters will need to avoid the sugar snap peas in their vegetable medley. You can also ask for a side Caesar salad, but don’t forget to hold the croutons.
#3. Go with a salad
A salad might not exactly thrill you, but it’s a good way to eat low-carb as long as you avoid the pitfalls. We like the million dollar Cobb salad at TGI Friday’s because it comes with grilled chicken, romaine and kale, chopped egg, bacon, cucumber, blue cheese, and cheddar cheese.
It’s a great blend of healthy fats from the meat, cheese, and eggs, and a good source of vitamins and fiber from the low-carb vegetables. Just be sure to order this (and all salads) with olive oil and vinegar instead of house dressing.
What To Order at TGI Friday’s
Most TGI Friday’s are open from 11 AM until 12 AM or 1 AM, so you’ll probably be eating there for lunch or dinner. You can also get a quick snack there during happy hour. Just make sure to follow our tips above and lay off the alcohol, too.
We’ve gone over every dish on the menu and placed it on a “safe foods” list or a “do not eat” list.
Here are the best foods to order at TGI Friday’s if you’re on a low-carb diet.
- Grilled wings (hold the dipping sauce and dressing)
- Cheeseburger sliders (hold the buns and the Friday’s sauce)
- Crispy Brussels sprouts (ask to hold the lemon soy vinaigrette and croutons)
Burgers and sandwiches (order all burgers and sandwiches without the sauce and bun; ask for a side house salad with oil and vinegar dressing instead of fries):
- Really good cheeseburger
- Bacon cheeseburger
- Turkey burger
- Philly cheesesteak burger (hold the eggroll skewers)
- Turkey and avocado BLT
- French dip (hold the horseradish sauce, bun, and the dipping sauce on the side)
Chicken and seafood (pay close attention to the instructions on all of these dishes!):
- Sizzling chicken and shrimp (order this without the bruschetta marinara; also hold the mashed potatoes and ask for extra veggies)
- Parmesan-crusted chicken (hold the parmesan bread crumbs; ask for double broccoli instead of potatoes)
- Sizzling chicken and cheese (hold the mashed potatoes and ask for extra veggies)
- Friday’s signature whiskey-glazed chicken (order this without the whiskey glaze; ask for double broccoli instead of mashed potatoes)
- Dragon-glaze chicken or salmon (order this without the sweet and spicy glaze; ask for double veggies in place of rice; if you’re keto, then hold the mango pico)
- Bacon wrapped shrimp (ask for double veggies and hold the rice)
Steaks and ribs (for all steak and rib dishes, ask to hold the sauce or top your steak with butter instead; order steamed broccoli and a side house salad with oil and vinegar as your two sides in place of potatoes and rice):
- New York strip tossed with whiskey glaze (hold the whiskey glaze; get double broccoli in place of mashed potatoes)
- Friday’s big ribs whiskey-glazed half or full slab (hold the whiskey glaze and any dipping sauce that comes with it; get a side salad or steamed veggies in place of fries and coleslaw)
- BBQ ribs half or full slab (hold the BBQ sauce and dipping sauce; get a side salad or steamed veggies in place of fries and coleslaw)
- New York strip (get double broccoli in place of potatoes)
- Center cut sirloin (get double broccoli in place of potatoes)
Salads (for all salads, hold the croutons and ask for oil and vinegar in place of house dressing):
- Side house salad or side Caesar salad (hold the croutons)
- Strawberry fields salad with grilled chicken (hold the glazed pecans; if you’re strict keto, then you may want to hold the strawberries, too)
- Caesar salad with grilled chicken (no croutons)
- Million dollar Cobb
Foods To Avoid at TGI Friday’s
The following foods make our “do not eat” list because they contain too many unhealthy ingredients that are hard to customize and there are much better options listed above.
- Friday’s signature whiskey-glazed sampler
- Mozzarella sticks
- Friday’s signature whiskey-glazed sesame chicken strips
- Boneless and traditional wings
- BBQ chicken flatbread
- Pan-seared pot stickers
- Spinach florentine flatbread
- Warm pretzels
- Friday’s signature whiskey-glazed sliders (get the cheeseburger sliders instead)
- Spinach and queso dip
- Green bean fries
- Loaded potato skins
- Loaded chicken nachos
- Friday’s combo
- Chicken quesadilla
- Giant onion rings
- Bucket of bones
- Philly cheesesteak egg rolls
- Wings roulette platter
- Loaded fries
Burgers and sandwiches:
- Friday’s signature whiskey-glazed burger (we recommend going with a regular bacon cheeseburger instead)
- Buffalo wingman’s burger (just go with a regular burger instead and double up on the meat if you’d like)
- Mac and cheese burger
- The beyond meat cheeseburger
- Friday’s signature whiskey-glazed chicken sandwich
- Southern fried chicken sandwich (you could ask for this grilled; hold the mayo, pepper sauce and bun)
- Buffalo fried chicken sandwich
Chicken, seafood, and pasta:
- Crispy chicken tenders
- Fried shrimp
- Fish and chips
- Cajun shrimp and chicken pasta
- Lemon and garlic shrimp pasta
- Chicken parmesan pasta
Steak and ribs:
- Center-cut sirloin and shrimp topped with whiskey glaze (only order this dish if you can get the shrimp grilled and not fried; hold the whiskey glaze and ask for double broccoli in place of mashed potatoes)
Salads and soups:
- Avoid all soups (French onion and white cheddar broccoli)
- BBQ chicken salad (you could ask to have the chicken prepared without the BBQ sauce; you would also need to hold the black beans, corn, onion rings, tortilla strips, and ranch dressing)
- Pecan-crusted chicken salad (you could order this if you asked for grilled chicken instead; you would also need to hold the cranberries, oranges, and glazed pecans)
It goes without saying that all desserts and sweetened beverages should also be avoided on a low-carb diet!
We’re shocked at how many foods at TGI Friday’s are either breaded or covered in sauce. For this reason, it can be tricky to order low-carb here. We’ve gone through every dish on the menu and placed it on a safe list or a do not eat list based on how many carbs it has.
Keep in mind that the best way to stick to your low-carb or ketogenic needs is by purchasing high-quality keto foods at the grocery store and preparing them at home. Only eat out if you absolutely have to! This is especially true for keto dieters who need to be strict about their macronutrient ratio.
We recommend going with a Cobb salad at TGI Friday’s. Ask for oil and vinegar dressing in place of house. You can also get a steak, but there are only two steak options that come without sauce. Be sure to order all of your meat dry and grilled instead of crispy. For your side dishes, stick with steamed vegetables or a side house salad. If you’re strict keto, you’ll want to hold the sugar snack peas in your vegetable medley.
If you want to follow a plan for weight loss, check this free meal plan with downloadable PDF file.
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