The salad shouldn’t be relegated to boring, tasteless health food, nor should it be dismissed as a necessary starter to be tolerated before the real food arrives. The noble salad, unique, diverse and delicious, should be elevated to a stature all it’s own. From hearty and complex to simple, light leaves, lettuce (Apologies. I had to.) offer our favorite salad spots around the Bay.
Thai Steak and Noodle Salad
1800 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
The Thai Steak and Noodle Salad at Hillstone is our favorite salad in the City. A big plate is piled high (and we’re talking high) with juicy chunks of marinated filet mignon, Asian noodles, avocado, peanuts, mango & herbs in Thai dressing. And then this masterpiece is presented to you, changing forever the way you think of salads. It’s THAT good.
Four Bay Area Locations
Chow’s Cobb Salad can be ordered in three sizes, so right off the bat, Chow has won us over with their flexibility towards our varying appetites. Sometimes you want a snack. Sometimes you need a big, hearty salad. Get both with Chow’s Cobb, a pre-dressed bowl of bold flavors. Chicken breast, bacon, blue cheese, avocado: it’s everything you want in a Cobb. With four Bay Area location, including two in San Francisco, one in Danville and one in Layfayette, you won’t have to go far for your Chow fix.
3853 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland’s Bay Wolf is home to one of the Bay’s best Caesar Salads. In fact, it’s Chronicle Columnist Michael Bauer’s favorite. Crisp whole leaves of romaine are delicately dressed in a traditional anchovy dressing. Simple, classic and somehow better than all the others, a Caesar at Bay Wolf is a must-order.
Build Your Own Salad
Several Bay Area Locations
Pluto’s, with several Bay Area locations, has been a family pick-up favorite for years. While their grill is always fired up, the salad bar is the real hit. Fill out a quick form, picking a lettuce, dressing and toppings like grilled onions, roasted walnuts and perfect, juicy chicken, and then watch as your salad is expertly tossed into a bowl, packed and perfected and plopped in a take-out box. You can also eat in their bright, spacious and family-friendly restaurants, but there’s something special about enjoying Pluto’s in your own orbit.
Financial District Salad Bar
Multiple San Francisco Locations
The hard-working suits packed into the FiDi swear by this chic and streamlined salad bar with three downtown locations. With built-it-yourself options, featuring toppings such as asparagus, macadamia nuts and pork loin, lettuce-lovers might become overwhelmed at the possibilities. Never fear! Pick from a collection of carefully designed salads, like the tempting Dagwood featuring roasted portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers, roasted zucchini, caramelized onions, goat cheese, garlic croutons, balsamic reduction and lemon herb vinaigrette or the hearty Bachelor, with grilled prime flat iron, blue cheese, herb roasted potatoes, cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinaigrette, topped with caramelized onions.
Zuni’s Warm Bread Salad
1658 Market Street
San Francisco, CA
Diners are forced to order the $48 Roast Chicken for Two to get this work of salad wonder, but if your wallet can handle it, your taste buds will thank you. The chicken is legendary, a perfect, comforting version of the timeless classic. But the warm bread salad served along with the cbird, covered in the warm juices and satisfying essence of the most familiar yet extraordinary of flavors, is simply remarkable.
Beth Spotswood, CBS San Francisco