There’s no shortage of delicious eats in Austin, but some are healthier than others. I’m all about donut crawls and trying every taco in the city, until my body demands healthier fuel. At those times, a plate of mixed greens can sound every bit as delicious as a bowl of queso. Nothing compares to the raw crunch of something straight from the earth.
However, there’s nothing more disappointing than craving greens and finding yourself at a restaurant where a bowl of limp romaine and croutons suffices as a house salad. My criteria for the perfect salad includes incredibly fresh and varied produce. The dressing should enhance the flavors of the vegetables, not hide them. I also love a mix of sweet and savory, and a variety of textures. While vegetables play the starring role, the perfect salad usually finds supporting characters among grains, nuts, and proteins. With that criteria in place, here are five of my favorite Austin salads.
1/ The Brunch Salad: Geraldine’s
When I’m able to resist the siren song of the pancake plate, brunch is a great time for a salad. The red quinoa breakfast salad at Geraldine’s is a solid option. It’s a mix of kale, squash, blueberry, and radish, hitting my criteria for sweet and savory. Given the name, it’s heavy on the quinoa, making this a promising way to start the day.
The best part? There’s a soft boiled egg on it. Nearly everything is better with a soft boiled egg on it.
605 Davis St. – Website
2/ The Anytime Salad: Walton’s Fancy and Staple
Walton’s Fancy and Staple is deli, bakery, restaurant, and florist. I love this West Sixth Street destination for many things, but one of them is the salads. Walton’s spinach and arugula salad features aged white cheddar, crisp slices of green apples, candied walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette. The dressing is perfectly balanced and they don’t skimp on the nuts.
609 W. 6th St. – Website
3/ The Salad from a Non-Salad Place: Via 313
You probably don’t think of Via 313 for salad. It’s known for delicious Detroit-style pizza, which admittedly is my primary reason for visiting, as well. However, there are some really tasty salads on the menu. My favorite is the beet salad with a mix of arugula, Gorgonzola, candied pecans, and crisp apples. There’s also a wonderful kale salad with a lemon vinaigrette and sliced almonds. The flavors are all perfectly balanced for a refreshing break from (or in between bites of) pizza.
Note: salads are only available at brick and mortar restaurant locations, not food trucks.
Multiple locations – Website
4/ The Lunch-on-the-Go Salad: Leaf
Leaf is a quick and healthy alternative in the midst of downtown’s lunch rush. You’ll find fresh, made-to-order salads created with local ingredients. Dressings are made in-house. Choose from 12 signature salads, or design your own with an abundance of ingredient options. One of my favorites is the Greenbelt salad, which has a mix of greens, cherry tomatoes, carrots, red onion, celery, and sunflower seeds in a Champagne vinaigrette.
As an added bonus, all of their disposable items are biodegradable, compostable, or made from recycled materials.
115 W. 6th St. – Website
5/ The Pasta Salad: Sophia’s
There’s something comforting about pasta salad. Sophia’s provides a wonderful orzo salad as part of the rotating spring menu. It’s not too heavy and features crispy quinoa, sun dried tomato, romesco, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and broccolini. It’s hearty and refreshing at the same time.
500 W. 6th St. – Website
This list of Austin salads is far from exhaustive, and I’m always looking for more bright vegetables and leafy greens to pull me away from the BBQ line. If you know of a great salad in Austin, I’d love to hear about it in a comment.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What’s your favorite salad in Austin?
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