Portland Paleo: La Buca Italian Cafe

Courtesy of labucaitaliancafe.com

“You eat regular tuna fish? I ONLY eat grass-fed tuna raised by Tibetan monks with a curfew before 10pm.”

I’ve noticed some paleo eaters take the quest for optimal nutrition a wee mite far. Just mouse around any paleo forum and you are bound to encounter the paleo extremists. But at the end of the day the extremest just care a whole lot about their health and are not hurting anyone. More power to ’em. For me? I just want to go with the flow and enjoy my new life in a way that is sustainable. I can’t limit myself to eating only the foods that I have prepared because I love everything about dining out, and I’m not going to let fear of eating a bit of canola oil stop me. I got a new rule for eating out:

Do your best. Don’t sweat it. Enjoy it.

I won’t lie, the “do your best” part can make me look like jackass. “Um yes, can I have the cheeseburger and fries? Hold the cheese, bun, mayo, mustard, ketchup, and fries. Can I add an additional patty to that?” Yup, I have become “that guy”, but this is where the “don’t sweat it” part comes in. Who cares if I’m that guy? This also applies when the food comes to the table. My plate most likely has several offending ingredients that paleo extremists would flip a pasture-raised cow over. Come on guys, I killed this box of Ho-Hos myself!

Whatever. Enjoy it.

I’ve had a lot of luck ordering out and sticking to my diet. If a restaurant has vegtables, eggs, or meat I can piece together a great dinner. The trick is being comfortable with modifications, substitutions, and asking to order off the menu. Last night I had to pull off a expert level order. That’s right. I ordered paleo at a pasta joint. First, let me stress that this should only be attempted by professionals and by guys with pregnant wives craving bruschetta and puttanesca.

La Buca is a small Italian cafe in Northeast Portland. It’s atmosphere is simple and not pretentious at all. The menu is fairly large for a restaurant its size, the food is consistently good, and the prices are totally reasonable. This place is one of our old haunts and it was nice to be back- even if I wasn’t dipping crusty bread in olive oil.

Ordering out usually takes a few extra minutes of menu studying. La Buca is definitely hurting for low-carb options, but they do have a lot of side items that can do the trick. I ordered the the Mediterranean olives and a verde salad with grilled salmon to start. I had to go off the menu with ordering an entree.  I asked the waitress if I could order off menu due to dietary restrictions. She hooked me up and I had a fantastic pan seared chicken with roasted vegetables. Not at all bad for eating low-carb and gluten free at an Italian restaurant.


La Buca East – 40 Northeast 28th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232-3145(503) 238-1058

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