As cravings go, none feel quite so insistent as the one that wants a salad. We scrubbed the city for 10 restaurant salads that satisfy supremely—then couldn’t resist adding one more. You got others? Comment!
Chef Jason Stratton enshrines the salad of his former mentor Bruce Naftaly (Marmite) with the occasionally offered Local Lettuces a la Naftaly: a plateful so delicate, biting in seems unduly harsh. But bite you must, because this salad honors the freshness and simplicity of local lettuces, then enlivens them with snips of herbs and a mustard-cabernet vinaigrette that’s at once vibrant and subtle as dew.
The Buddha Bowl at this tony Bainbridge Island juice bar is technically a grain bowl, but the heap of shredded lacinato kale and the colorful and ridiculously tasty riot of purple daikon and roasted carrots and chiogga beets and sunchokes and golden beets and avocado—well let’s just say it rings all the same bells, only over fermented brown rice with tamari and beneath a lovely dripping egg. Divine.
Arugula, roasted beets, and blood oranges make a fine, fine combination—particularly when embellished with fennel and pecorino cheese in a lush vinaigrette. Let the record show that this beloved Beacon Hill pizzeria switches up salads to reflect seasons and kitchen whims; let it likewise show that they’re all terrific, among the most reliably so in town.
Pretty much impossible to round up the best salads in town and leave out the one that started it all: The Canlis Salad, the Canlis family’s original take on the Caesar, tossed tableside with the signature strokes of mint and bacon. Dating from 1950—when the current owners’ Lebanese great-grandmother’s recipe was pressed into service—this one sounds dated. Then you taste it.
The chopped salad at this new Wallingford sprawler is a full-throttle romp across fields of romaine and kale, brightened with apple and pomegranate seeds and herby feta and ribbons of fennel, with pumpkin seeds and avocado for texture. Wash it all in a za’atar-orange vinaigrette and it’s explosively good. Get a small or large. (But get large.)
It’s one for the ages, folks: The corned lamb salad at Fremont’s frisky fusion temple Revel, where owners Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi long ago discovered the magic of salt-cured lamb with peppery mizuna in a spicy nuoc cham dressing. Like so many salads, this one sounds a little weird—then tastes written in the stars.
The five hundred wage slaves ahead of you in line at these design-your-own-salad emporiums (three locations downtown, one South Lake Union, one U Village) can’t be wrong. Order your own creation or a house combo, which they mix and dice up and dress right in front of you. My fave’s the Sombrero: a mashup of lettuce and tortilla chips and black beans and corn and cherry tomatoes and Beecher’s and jalapenos and more stuff, all bound up in one of their 14 dressings. I think honey Dijon lends a necessary sweetness, but “it’s up to you” is the whole point in here.
The salads in this charming whitewashed daytime Pioneer Square haunt are as many and varied as the chefs’ culinary brain cells, so it may be meaningless if I laud the honey-roasted carrots with chard leaves and cumin-cured olives or the herby chicken salad with trofie pasta and stinging nettles and feta—for they may never be made again. But something like them will be—and they let you order a plate of three.
The Quinoa Greens Salad is the standout in this pristine juicebar/cafe on Capitol Hill, its grains mixed up with cilantro, baby lettuces, radish, carrot, avocado, feta, shaved fennel, and cumin pumpkin seeds in a sparkling vinaigrette. Add organic chicken and it’ll fill you for the day.
Skillet didn’t invent the Kale Caesar, but it sure perfected it: kale, housemade croutons, parmesan, and at least one lolling anchovy just to freak out the children. You can add fried chicken thigh or blackened rockfish for meatiness—but this one feels substantial aplenty on its own.
Much from the long menu at this downtown sister of Tamarind Tree is worth ordering, but the Green Mango Salad is such a festival of julienned (sweet, firm mango), torn (cilantro, basil, mint), pickled (carrots, jicama), frizzled (onions), and crushed (peanuts)—it makes “party in your mouth” the realest of real things. Tamarind sauce and your choice of skewered meat too.