As The Simpsons once sang, you don't make friends with salad. While that may or may not be true, there's no denying that ditching the burger and fries for something leaf-based would be one of the better choices you could make while dining out. Whether you love lettuce, hail kale, or blush for Brussels sprouts, metro Phoenix has its fair share of dishes that get Mother Nature's stamp of approval. And because going green doesn't mean leaving your taste buds behind, here are our 10 favorite salads in the Valley.
See also: 10 Best Doughnuts in Metro Phoenix
Kale Salad at Downtown Phoenix Public Market
Phoenix Public Market has already made a name for itself as one of the healthiest hotspots in downtown Phoenix. So it should come as no surprise that its kale salad is one of our go-to greens. The leafy menu option is made with kale, carrots, radishes, pomegranate seeds, shaved beets, goat cheese crumbles, pecans and a light but tangy citrus vinaigrette. To up protein intake, customers can add chicken and, if you're really in a pinch for time, snag this salad as a ready-to-go boxed lunch.
Hearts of Palm & Avocado Salad at República Empanada
The empanadas may govern the menu at this Mesa establishment but that doesn't stop the hearts of palm and avocado salad from getting our vote. This wholesome dish is as filling as it is fresh with crisp cucumber, tomato, avocado, chickpeas, hearts of palm, red onion, romaine lettuce, kale, hard boiled egg, and cilantro lime vinaigrette. Diners have the option of adding chicken or pernil, but frankly this salad is pretty satisfying as is.
Brussels Sprout Salad at Chelsea's Kitchen
We have to hand it to Chelsea's Kitchen's for breathing new life into our favorite cabbage bud. The Arcadia eatery uses the delicately peeled leaves of steamed Brussels sprouts to create a vibrant and flavorful base, then tops it all off with savory bacon, sweet cranberries, sliced almonds, and manchego cheese. To make this menu item even more of a meal, restaurant-goers can also get rotisserie chicken, salmon, or ribeye added on the side.
Ridgeview Farms Chicken Salad at Pane Bianco
Depending on which Bianco restaurant you visit, you'll be greeted with two different takes on chicken salad. Our personal favorite is the Ridgeview Farms Chicken Salad at Pane Bianco. This chicken salad is prepared with mustard that is stone ground in house and mixed with diced gala apple, then laid over a bed of greens and fresh tomato. It's straight to the point and perfect for those looking for a low-carb alternative to the chicken salad sandwich.
Otro Cortado Salad at Otro Cafe
If you mourned the loss of the late Gallo Blanco, specifically its Ensalada Cortada, we have some very good news. The texture-based salad is still served fresh as ever, just further down the road, at sister restaurant Otro Cafe. For those unfamiliar with the Cortada, it comes with corn nuts, crunchy peas, tomato, egg, shredded cheddar cheese, and creamy vinaigrette mixed with a blend of arugula, kale, crisp cabbage. It's essentially the trail mix of salads and, just like true love, it never dies.
Kale Caesar at Original Chop Shop Co.
Although chop shop churns out plenty of lean breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, we think the kale Caesar reigns supreme. The new take on an old classic comes with a blend of kale and romaine lettuce, campari tomatoes, crunchy croutons, parmesan, a light but distinct lemon-dijon dressing, and the option of adding chicken, steak, shrimp, or tofu. It's simple yet comforting and completely deserving of its noble title.
If ever there was a testament to the popularity of the Stetson Chopped, it's the fact that you can find it at its original home, Cowboy Ciao, as well as at Citizen Public House and The Gladly. This signature chop is prepared with pearl couscous, finely diced arugula, marinated tomatoes, dried sweet corn, currants, pepitas, asiago cheese, a creamy buttermilk dressing, and protein options including salmon and chicken.
Roasted Beet Salad at The Parlor
Looking for a salad that'll change the way you look at beets? Let us direct you to the roasted beet salad at The Parlor. Saturated with both color and flavor, this permanent menu fixture features organic golden beets, arugula, fennel, gastrique onions, avocado, white balsamic vinaigrette, and a walnut crusted wedge of goat cheese. We suppose you could add the optional roasted chicken, steak, shrimp, or grilled fish but then how would you insure you still had room left for pizza?
Couscous Salad at Couscous Express
One of our favorite new additions to the Calle 16 neighborhood isn't a Mexican restaurant at all. It's Moroccan. Couscous Express is a cozy daytime dining spot that specializes in date shakes, tajines, and other dishes made with its title grain. For lunch-breakers looking for a more out-of-the-box salad option, we recommend the chilled couscous salad with feta cheese, cilantro, basil, and finely chopped tomato and cucumber. It's a dish best suited for sharing at a restaurant highly worth sampling.
Farmers Vegetable Chop at Grassroots Kitchen and Tap
The Farmers Vegetable Chop at Grassroots might as well be called the "Everything But the Kitchen Sink Salad." Its lengthy ingredients list includes cabbage, beets, butternut squash, radishes, tomatoes, grapes, cucumbers, edamame, scallions, basil, parsley, and feta cheese, all toped with champagne vinaigrette. It's a mouthful to be sure and miraculously, regardless of what you manage to get on your fork at any given bite, it all pairs together perfectly.