New York City’s fast-casual salad market is certainly thriving — see Sweetgreen, Smile To Go, City Bakery — but the appeal of a well-made restaurant salad shouldn’t be underestimated. These 18 standout restaurant salads are good enough to be the meal’s main attraction, not the obligatory-feeling addition, simply to get something green and vaguely virtuous on the table.Read More
18 Refreshing and Satisfying Restaurant Salads in NYC
From shredded papaya to flawless takes on the caesar, cobb, and niçoise
Serafina Upper West Side
This Italian chain is typically just a solid choice for kid-friendly meals or (at its Midtown locations) a reliable business lunch. But it also makes a tangy, satisfying shaved raw artichoke salad, tossed in a simple lemon-olive oil dressing, covered with Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings, and served with lemon slices for further citrus spritzing.
One of the city’s top places to find Grecian fare, Taverna Kyclades whips up a very faithful take on the classic Greek salad. A big hunk of feta sits atop diced cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, onions, and hot peppers, doused in olive oil and a showering of oregano. There’s an East Village outpost in addition to the Astoria original.
With California roots, this longtime power lunch spot serves a justifiably famous Cobb salad, filled with roasted chicken, thick-cut bacon, blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and creamy avocado, all dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette. As for the crowd, it’s a media industry favorite, populated by the likes of TV execs, on-air personalities, and Hearst heavyweights.
Don Angie’s take on the caesar salad manages to be refreshing and inventive. Dressed chrysanthemum leaves take the place of romaine, and they’re showered in parmesan cheese — sometimes to the point of hiding the greens. Garlic adds pungency, while sesame brings in some toasted notes. It’s a flavor-packed addition to the table at this buzzy West Village modern Italian restaurant.
While there are plenty of light, flavorful, and often vegetable-driven items on stylish ABC Kitchen’s menu, the roast carrot and avocado salad is a longtime highlight. The sparse salad consists of carrots roasted in a marinade that includes citrus (both orange and lemon), cumin, garlic, and thyme, finished with a dollop of crème fraîche and toasted sunflower seeds for some crunch.
Jonathan Waxman’s West Village spot gets a lot of love for its superb pollo al forno, and rightfully so. But don’t sleep on the kale salad, which has been around for a long time and predates the ubiquity of the leafy dark green on seemingly every menu. Packed with with pecorino, anchovies, and breadcrumbs, it’s simple but flawless, best enjoyed at a sidewalk table.
TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie
This Japanese udon export doesn’t only offer steaming bowls — go for the sashimi udon salad, which combines thinner, bucatini-like strands served cold with mixed greens, fresh slabs of fish (tuna, hamachi, salmon, snapper, and scallop), crispy shallots, onion, edamame, and a sesame dressing.
Gotham Bar and Grill
The seafood salad has been on the menu for over two decades, and is one of the original dishes chef Alfred Portale has served his entire, lengthy time at Greenwich Village’s Gotham Bar and Grill. Created as a riff on seafood salads Portale first encountered in Florence, the ultra-fresh dish has Spanish octopus, scallops, lobster, and shrimp, poached to order and tossed with a light lemon-olive oil dressing, herbs, shallots, and spices, served with a bit of avocado and greens.
This snug Parisian charmer from Jody Williams does a lot of things very well, like any of the delicately steamed egg dishes, for example. The roasted chicken salad is a highlight, too: Tossed with haricots verts, potatoes, and vinaigrette, it’s like a more nuanced, relatively lighter mash-up of chicken salad and potato salad, sans the mayo. Be prepared to wait for it.
The Caesar salad is pricey at Major Food Group’s ode to old-school American Italian fare, but so is everything on the menu. What makes it worth it? It’s a top example of the form, where the salad is prepared table-side, with ample anchovies, croutons made from sister restaurant Parm’s semolina rolls soaked in compound butter, and showered in cheese.
It’s hard to fathom a farro salad superior to chef Ryan Hardy’s version at Charlie Bird: The longtime item stays put on the ever-changing Soho restaurant menu and mixes the toothsome grain with pistachios, cherry tomatoes, thinly shaved radishes, basil, and Parmigiano. Be sure to fill the rest of the table with pastas.
Head to this spicy Alphabet City Thai restaurant for a multitude of takes on papaya salad, the spicy Northeastern Thai dish that delivers assertive heat and refreshing crunch and tanginess in each bite. There are eight varieties of the salad, which originates from Isan, with additions like mackerel, grilled pork neck, and salted egg, all ringing in at $11 to $15.
The endive salad at Noho charmer Estela may not look like much, but like the rest of Ignacio Mattos’ acid-driven fare, looks can be deceiving. Mattos simply dresses crunchy endive leaves with vinaigrette and orange zest, and hiding underneath is a pile of crunchy toasted walnuts, anchovy, and ubriaco rosso cheese. The result is absolutely addicting.
Another bowl of kale truly worth ordering in NYC, aside from Barbuto’s version? The chopped black kale salad at Greenpoint go-to Five Leaves. The excellent all-day dining option is currently a spicy riff on a Caesar, with gouda and hazelnuts; a previous iteration had mint, pine nuts, salted lemon, and yogurt.
Find one of the city’s finest Niçoise salads at this Keith McNally Soho institution. Seared tuna is draped over mixed greens, haricots verts, potatoes, black olives, hard-boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers, and anchovies, served with a lemon dressing. But the exemplary take on the Niçoise, priced at $30 at lunch and $31 at dinner, isn’t solely for special occasions or expense-account lunches: A to-go version, with romaine in lieu of mixed greens and sans roasted peppers, is available at Balthazar Bakery next door, for $12.25.
The main attraction at this airy Nolita cafe is the homemade Greek yogurt, available strained or unstrained and in various savory and sweet toppings, but the Greek salad merits a visit, too. A generous slab of feta sprinkled with capers, oregano, and mint leaves sits atop halved cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, red onions, and high-quality Kalamata olives. The bottom has a foundation of Cretan rusks, or nutty crouton-like crackers made in-house, which soak up a generous glug of olive oil.
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At this Carroll Gardens mainstay, there’s a particularly filling, standout salad, composed of warm lamb and romaine. The lettuce leaves are dressed with a tangy buttermilk, mustard, mayo, and red wine dressing and topped with lamb, roasted cauliflower, croutons, fried capers, and a soft-boiled egg.
At this Bay Ridge restaurant, one of NYC’s 2018 Michelin Bib Gourmands, mother-daughter owners Rawia and Jumana Bishara turn out top-notch Middle Eastern home cooking, including an exemplary fatoush salad. Lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers are tossed with parsley, mint, sumac, pita, lemon and olive oil, with the option to add on grilled chicken and/or feta.