Summer Essentials: Healthy Eating During the Outdoor Event Season

Our picks for quick, healthy bites

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Summer in Central Park
Spend the day in Central Park and get something to eat nearby!

In New York, summer doesn’t just mean sky-high temperatures–it also means the return of outdoor event season. In July and August, it can feel like every inch of public space is colonized by concerts, plays, or film screenings.

Though visiting new corners of the city is part of the fun when attending these events, eating healthfully while in unfamiliar neighborhoods can be challenging. But fret not! We found restaurants with the Clean Plates Seal near four of the biggest summer event sites. Pack this list alongside your sunglasses and your picnic blanket, and you’ll never go hungry.

Central Park Summerstage:
Summerstage bans outside food from all pay performances, and has mostly unhealthy snacks for sale inside its gates. But near the park’s East 72nd St. entrance, you can find healthy options—Le Pain Quotidien, which offers rustic vegan soups, salads, and sandwiches with organic breads, and Candle Cafe, which serves simple, naturally sweetened, and gluten-free vegetarian fare, like BBQ-tempeh-and-sweet-potato sandwiches. A few blocks north in the East 80s, you can find the New York Times-acclaimed Gobo, and snag some affordable vegetarian delicacies, like truffled mushroom paninis.

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival:
This film screening series, located shouting distance from Times Square, can seem like it’s in the middle of everything except healthy eating. But located directly across the street are two healthy on-the-go favorites: Pret a Manger, purveyors of pre-made, preservative-, hormone-and antibiotic-free sandwiches and soups; and the well-sourced, antibiotic-free-meat and organic dairy-based Mexican cuisine of Chipotle. Venture further from the park and you’ll be rewarded with FreeFoods, the all-organic soup, sandwich, and juice cafe created by an original owner of Pure Food and Wine.

South Street Seaport:
While not on many New Yorkers’ itineraries during the rest of the year, the Seaport has a secret summer life hosting the 4Knots and River to River festivals. A quick trip away from the traditional-fast-food-laden pier reveals healthy fast food mini-chain The Pump, which serves hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and organic tofu in sandwiches and salads. The area is also home to Pret a Manger and Chipotle locations.

High Line:
Healthy culture mavens taking in the High Line’s summertime arts offerings are in luck–this neighborhood boasts easy access to healthful food options like Cookshop, a New American spot that combines local sourcing and organic meats with old-fashioned favorites, like an antibiotic-free chicken salad; and Simple Kitchen, which specializes in natural, sustainable, and organic soups, sandwiches, and hot entrees. Nearby Chelsea Market features healthy eateries like Green Table, which puts local, seasonal spins on Americana classics like a locally-raised beef burger, and One Lucky Duck, a raw foods café known for its freshly pressed juices, snacks, and naturally-sweetened treats, like a cashew-and-cocoa-based “mallomar.”