Salads are great any time of the year – especially during the summer, though, when the air is hot and still, and the chill of crisp greens is oh-so-inviting.
If you’re eating out, satisfying your craving shouldn’t be a problem since just about every restaurant (even some of the greasiest fast-food joints) has some sort of a salad. But these are six spots worth gravitating toward.
1961 E. Seventh St. (704-333-9515); 1412-F East Blvd. (704-372-2010); 320 S. Tryon St. (704-376-0015).
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The F.C.N (fruit, cheese, nut) salad (mixed greens, apples, pear, blue cheese, walnuts, dried cranberries, lemon vinaigrette) is what lighter summer eating is all about. But should the carnivore inside you growl, the Asian salad is a good alternative. Those crunchy Chinese noodles and Mandarin oranges team up with grilled chicken. Crisp has a number of composed salads, but you can build your own. Word to the wise: It’s a multi-step process, so do yourself – and the folks standing behind you – a favor and preview the menu online (www.crispfoods.com) so you don’t clog up the line.
9844 Rea Road (704-755-5565); 4125 Park Road (980-321-9034).
This is yet another totally-dedicated-to-the-salad concept restaurant. The Santa Fe salad with avocado, grape tomatoes, corn, pepper jack cheese and fried onions is billed as a “first time favorite.” But there’s also the 7 Summits grain salad with roasted squash, charred red onion, pecorino, quinoa, lentil, millet, kale, spinach and cabbage. Whether you build your own or opt for one of the already-crafted salads, employees add the ingredients to a bowl and, you guessed it, chop them into bite-size pieces.
Harris Teeter; Whole Foods; Publix; Earth Fare; Dean & Deluca
Grocery stores may be the easiest and quickest places to get a salad fix. Publix probably has the smallest number of items to chose from, but don’t let that put you off. Dean & Deluca has a great salmon Cobb salad. As with most of these salad bars, the offerings can be tantalizing enough that you’re tempted to keep adding and adding to your container. But don’t forget these salads are priced by weight.
7401 E. Independence Blvd. (704-535-0340); 8905 Red Oak Blvd. (704-525-5025); 12330 Johnston Road (704-540-1489); 7780 Lyles Lane NW, Concord (704-979-1741).
There are plenty of salads on the main menu, but this chain restaurant is known for its all-you-can-eat salad bar. The ingredients are pretty basic – a few types of greens, shrooms, cukes, tomatoes, broccoli, bacon, edamame, plus a couple of already prepared pasta and cold pre-made salads. But once again, the bar is well-maintained, and for a sit-down restaurant, the entire dining experience is pretty quick. The only danger here is you may be tempted to eat too many of the complimentary buttery herb biscuits.
The Roasting Company
1521 Montford Drive (704-521-8188).
Chicken may be the star here, but this Montford Drive institution also makes a pretty mean roast Boston butt dubbed Jaco pork. The pork is used in the Jaco Pork salad. Generous hunks of warm meat are scattered among mixed greens, cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, sour cream and jalapeños. After the pork, the best part of the salad is the thick, crisp tortilla strips. Do make sure to get the zippy chipotle ranch dressing to drizzle over the top.
6401 Morrison Blvd. (704-364-6255).
Plenty of places serve a wedge salad. Bricktops serves an excellent wedge salad. The ingredients are straightforward – crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, blue cheese dressing, thick bits of bacon. Those ingredients are high quality, and that’s really all that’s needed.