New keto menus prove that the diet’s taking over NYC
Extra butter, hold the popcorn.
The dine-in movie theater chain Ipic just launched a keto diet-friendly menu.
Now, followers of the high-fat, low-carb keto regimen can dine on entrees that contain fewer than 5 grams of carbs, as well as sugar-free cocktails and desserts, at Ipic theaters, including the downtown Fulton Street location.
It’s welcome news to NYC’s keto dieters, including acolyte Ken Spencer, 27, a former fitness model who has been on and off keto for the past five years.
“When you’re trying to live a certain lifestyle, you have to make a decision [of], do I stay on the diet or do I make a sacrifice?” the Upper East Sider tells The Post.
Spencer — who, like keto’s many celeb followers, believes that eating a high-fat diet launches the body into a fat-torching state called ketosis — didn’t want to quit going to movies altogether. But he also didn’t want to sit through them snackless, so he smuggled in his own keto movie theater snacks.
“Pumpkin seeds or peanuts, never popcorn or nachos,” he says.
‘They go bonkers over it.’
But as keto devotees grow in number, restaurants and entertainment venues are beefing up their high-fat offerings to cash in on the trend — and emphasizing keto-OK’ed indulgences, such as pork belly, cheese, steak and butter.
Joining the race for NYC’s best keto restaurants are fast-casual spots, such as Hu Kitchen and Fresh & Co. Both serve their own versions of “keto bowls,” with meat, greens and fatty avocados.
Meanwhile, BarBacon, in Hell’s Kitchen and Union Square, has become a kind of meaty mecca for keto-eaters: Most items on the menu, which features 10 different kinds of bacon, have a “K” next to them to indicate that they’re safe for those on the diet, says chef-owner Peter Sherman.
“They go bonkers over it, and feel like they’re also being pretty healthy,” Sherman says of people who order the keto bites, which include brisket-style bacon and nachos served on crispy pork rinds instead of chips. (Some doctors and dietitians warn against the keto diet due to its high levels of saturated fat and difficulty to sustain.)
Ipic’s CEO Hamid Hashemi tells The Post that he’s lost 35 pounds since he started following the keto diet in September 2018. Dining out — at his own theaters and in general — has been especially hard for him, since the diet restricts gluten, sugar and even some vegetables and fruits.
“Most people can figure out how to modify an entree, but drinks and dessert were the hardest part,” says Hashemi, who is based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
To have something indulgent to eat outside of the house, he found himself furiously baking keto desserts every Sunday night, including Key lime bars and cheesecake, versions of which are on the Ipic keto menu (for $6 and $10, respectively).
Ipic’s $14 cocktails include the “Anti-rita,” which has clear tequila, a keto-friendly simple syrup made with a sugar substitute and sparkling lemonade soda. Dinner entrees lean meat-heavy, with steak skewers ($24), Angus burger lettuce cups ($17) and buttermilk fried chicken battered with almond flour ($19).
You can expect to see more menus like those as the trend continues to gain traction with NYC’s keto foodies.
Jaime Herrera, who owns Mexican restaurant La Loteria in the West Village, has lost 20 pounds in two months on the keto diet. He’s planning to unveil his own keto menu this weekend at the restaurant, making simple swaps with some of his customers’ favorites — for instance, serving queso fundido (calorie-laden, but keto-approved) with jicama chips instead of tortilla chips.
“It’s hard. You do have to kind of personalize your order every time you go out,” says the 31-year-old chef from the Financial District. With his new menu, he hopes to show keto followers that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. “There’s a peace of mind knowing that you’re not going to f - - k up by eating a doughnut.”
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