Not everybody wants a salad. Not every day, anyway.
But sooner or later, even those who seem to have an almost physical aversion to raw vegetables get a craving for something cold and fresh.
A salad is always a good call — choosing one over a cheeseburger for lunch pays dividends during the afternoon’s lull at work, when the meat-eaters start to doze. And when you have a salad for lunch, you can eat whatever you want for the rest of the day.
In the Triad, the salad days run from early spring to the end of the summer, when the greens are at their freshest and new crops of vegetables break at the farmers markets every week.
Our list is by no means extensive — there are thousands of salads to choose from in the Triad. We eschewed chain restaurants for this project, sticking to local restaurants and chefs who arrange their greens in ways both traditional and trendy. And we surely left some favorites out. Let us know what we missed at triad-city-beat.com.
Ahi Tuna Bowl @ Bandito Bodega (GSO)
Ingredients: Sticky rice, miso spinach, pickled ginger, salted radish, Gochujang, Kewpie, nori, bonito (fish) and sesame
The Bandito Burrito food truck now has a brick & mortar near Hungry Howie’s and Mad Hatter on West Friendly Avenue. You can read a full article about Bandito Bodega on the TCB website, but when it comes to salads, head straight for the Ahi Tuna Bowl. Like many of the menu items here, this salad is Asian inspired. At $12, it costs more than most local salads, but it delivers much more, too. The freshness and combination of flavors make it well worth it.
Though it might stray more from the definition of a salad we’re using here, you could also order one of Bandito’s more Mexican-adjacent burritos in a bowl and call it a salad. But if you’re going to cheat and get a burrito, try the General Tso Burrito with fried spicy Sichuan chicken, sushi rice, crispy wontons, broccoli and lemongrass cabbage slaw. There are also first-rate tacos with Thai peanut sauce and Korean soy glaze here, and I’ve been wanting to try the kimchi fried rice balls app. Don’t order anything else if you’re getting the Ahi Tuna Bowl unless you want to share or take home leftovers though, because it’s a force to be reckoned with.
Arugula & Fried Goat Cheese Salad @ Jeffrey Adams (W-S)
Ingredients: Arugula, fried goat cheese, pickled red onions, candied cashews, mandarin orange, dried cranberries
Between arugula, candied cashews and fruit, this salad will satisfy a sweet tooth. It’s served with three lightly fried spheres of goat cheese and pairs nicely with their pomegranate blueberry dressing. If you’re looking for a savory option, the wedge salad features bacon, tomato, egg and onion rings with blue cheese crumbles. Enjoy either on Jeffrey Adam’s sidewalk patio this summer.
Arugula and Grilled Endive @ 1618 Downtown (GSO)
Ingredients: Feta cheese, charred-corn and peanut chutney, shaved carrots and ginger dressing
It’s the corn-peanut chutney that makes this one more than just a brief introduction to the main course. Or maybe it’s the grilled endive, that most noble of greens, able to withstand the wilting heat of the grill, if even for just a minute. Either way, it’s the most interesting salad on the downtown menu right now.
The Arugula Salad @ Mission Pizza Napoletana (W-S)
Ingredients: Arugula, shaved Pecorino Romano cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper
It’s the simplest of things, just five ingredients of the most basic variety, the sort of thing you might throw together from what’s left in your refrigerator or pantry. But it might never come out like this: a near perfect balance of oil and astringency with the lift of lemon and the bite of black pepper, bound together with delicate yet pungent laces of hard cheese. It’s a minimalist’s special, something for the purist or the diner who means it when they say they really want “something simple.”
Baby Kale and Crispy Prosciutto Salad @ River Birch Lodge (W-S)
Ingredients: Baby kale with dried currants, pine nuts, goat cheese and crispy prosciutto with a honey-sherry vinaigrette
The décor of River Birch Lodge made me feel like I’m in an unfamiliar land, like dining in a mountain lodge at a ski resort, a welcome departure from the chain restaurants. The Baby Kale and Crispy Prosciutto Salad here is visually striking, but the crispy prosciutto is what makes this salad stand out. The slight flavor notes from the goat cheese and a touch of sweetness from the honey-sherry vinaigrette fill out the dish nicely.