Still working on that beach bod? Yeah, us too. But don't worry, you don't have to sacrifice flavor in order to have a light, healthy meal that won't weigh you down any more than the heat already is. Metro Phoenix restaurants know how to do plenty of things right, including how to create a salad that's anything but boring.
So, eat your heart out, hot dog and burger. Here are the 10 salads we'll be enjoying this summer in metro Phoenix.
Kale and Apple Salad at The Henry
This simple but flavorful salad combines sweet clementines, smokey bacon, Amish cheddar, crisp apple slices, and toasted almonds with a base of shredded, good-for-you kale. Unlike some unwieldy kale creations, everything in this salad is chopped down to bite-size pieces and the slightly bitter taste of the kale gets balanced by the sweetness of the citrus and apple.
Gem Lettuces at Ocotillo
Red and green gem lettuce come together with bitter radish, just so it can all be topped with buttery blue cheese, juicy tomatoes, and a creamy dill dressing in this lunch and dinner offering at Ocotillo in central Phoenix. This salad, however, is not for the weak of heart. It’s a surprisingly hearty portion and also comes loaded with avocado, egg, and crispy bacon.
Cortado Salad at Otro Cafe
If you’re looking for something lighter than a burrito when you hit up chef Doug Robson's Otro Cafe, we'd suggest the Cortado salad. Egg, cheddar, freeze-dried peas, and corn nuts top off a bed of kale and greens mixed with a creamy, house-made, herb-infused buttermilk ranch. It also pairs perfectly with one of Otro’s famous margaritas ... or two, we're not judging.
Chinese Chicken Salad at Zinburger
You wouldn't expect a burger bar to have a great Asian chicken salad, but we promise this one's worth a try. Julienne carrots, bell peppers, and chopped mandarin oranges are tucked into mixed greens and red cabbage, then topped with warm grilled chicken. Asian sesame ginger meets goddess dressing and is sprinkled with sesame seeds — and, maybe most important, a sprinkling of crisp wonton chips for a texture that’s just about perfect.
This salad is so good it has its own Facebook page — and to be fair, the attention is well deserved. Served chilled, this salad is a well-organized affair, with each ingredient arriving at your table in a neat little line. The list of add-ins includes Alaskan smoked salmon, Israeli pearl couscous, chopped arugula, pepitas, freeze-dried corn, and tomato. Sure, it's a simple recipe — everything just gets blended with a Pecorino Romano ranch dressing — but the balance of flavors and textures means we can never resist ordering it.
The Beet Salad from Original Chop Shop Co.
We love that this salad is full of golden beets, creamy goat cheese, sweet golden raisins, and thinly sliced tart green apples. Almonds and cashews round out the mix, giving each bite a powerful crunch that goes well with a citrus-infused red-wine vinaigrette. We're all about gold, especially when it comes to beets.
Chicken Salad at Pane Bianco
This is not your grandma's chicken salad. Tender chopped chicken is mixed with mustard seeds, chopped celery, apple, basil, and red onion, served over a giant, leafy spring mix with salt and pepper heirloom tomatoes and a simple but elegant balsamic dressing. Not too heavy, yet totally satisfying, it's available for dine in or take out — the choice is up to you, and we promise it tastes great no matter where you dig in.
Jerk Chicken Salad from The Breadfruit & Rum Bar
If you can’t make it to Jamaica, we have the next best thing: the spicy jerk chicken salad at The Breadfruit & Rum Bar in downtown Phoenix. Super-sweet tomatoes, pineapple chunks, and sliced beets contrast with traditional jerk chicken's flavors of cayenne and chipotle spice. Raspberry vinaigrette brings out the warmth of the cinnamon in the seasoning, rounding out a fulfilling dish. With a rum punch in hand, you’d never even know you were still in Arizona.
Seared Tuna Salad from House of Tricks
Wasabi pea-crusted seared Saku tuna comes perched atop a bed of spring mix, pickled tomatoes, avocado, sliced cucumber, edamame, wonton chips, and, yes, more wasabi peas before being dusted with shaoxing-miso dressing and garnished with fresh cracked pepper. The wasabi peas and edamame give this salad an unmistakable Japanese vibe, and we love the bold flavors that mean this salad is light but far from light on taste.
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Vegan Caesar from Flower Child
We know, we know — "vegan" can be a scary word for meat eaters, but this salad defies expectation. Thoroughly coated, but not drenched, in a Caesar-style dressing that’s more tangy than salty, a blend of spinach and romaine lettuces meets tomatoes, cauliflower, and gets a little bit of crunch from earthy sunflower seeds. You might miss the traditional Parmesan cheese, but the addition of creamy avocado will help you forget.