This being summer, and summer being the time when you theoretically eat fresher and lighter, one’s thoughts turn to salads. At least, this one’s thoughts do. If you search on the worldwide web for Best Salads in Dallas, you get this list and that, and they all seem to have one thing in common: They come topped with meat. How in the world when you think of a salad do you end up with meat?
Forget the other best salad lists. This is your list of the 10 best real salads in DFW:
Al Biernat’s, hearts of palm
Steakhouses have some of the best salads around, and Al Biernat’s is no exception. They have nine salad options including the popular favorite, the Al’s Salad, with hearts of palm, avocado, shrimp, and crab. It’s a stunner of a salad, but for our purposes, which is a salad not heaped with meat, go for the junior version: the hearts of palm salad, with mixed greens, bell pepper, and crunchy hazelnuts tossed in a hazelnut vinaigrette. Soon you’ll be able to order it not only at the original location on Oak Lawn Avenue but also the second branch opening in North Dallas.
Blatt Beer + Table, kale-Caesar
Everyone has a kale salad, making it hard to stand out. But the kale-Caesar at this elevated gastropub at Preston Hollow Village stands out. It has Boston lettuce, baby kale, shaved fennel, Grana Padano cheese, and brioche-herb croutons, but what really gives it the pop is the fresh citrus twist in its citrus-Caesar dressing.
Knife Dallas, Teresa salad
For starters, this salad at John Tesar’s edgy steakhouse at the Highland Dallas hotel has a really cool name. But that’s not what makes this salad so special. It’s a bold, ballsy heap of watercress, tempered by bits of Belgian endive, candied walnut, and goat cheese — simple but sophisticated, and the best salad in Dallas.
La Ventana, ensalada fresca
Salads are not what you would expect at this upscale taqueria chain and El Fenix sibling, but its ensalada fresca would prove you wrong. It has mixed greens, iceberg lettuce, tomato, candied peanuts, avocado, fresco cheese, with a charred cilantro vinaigrette, with the option to add shredded pork, brisket, or their other meats. But who needs it.
North Italia, Tuscan kale salad
New Italian eatery at Legacy West is part of the Fox Restaurant Concepts family, along with salad-serving restaurants such as True Food Kitchen and Flower Child. But it beats its siblings with its Tuscan kale salad, with an assortment of flavorful embellishments that makes you forget there’s kale: crispy pancetta, charred grape, apple, and pistachio in a Parmesan vinaigrette.
Pie Tap Pizza Workshop, Sweet salad
Nascient Dallas pizza chain with two branches on Henderson Avenue and in the Design District has notably great pizza, but there’s more to life and dinner than pizza. There’s the sweet salad with kale, radicchio, apple, radish, pearled barley, candied pecans, and goat cheese, tossed in a pomegranate vinaigrette.
Rise No. 1, Rise No. 1 salad
While Rise specializes in souffles, it has one great salad that is as dear and delicate as everything else at this darling Dallas chain. It consists of baby greens, with blue cheese, roasted pecans, and Granny Smith apples, tossed in a pecan vinaigrette. Others do salads with these ingredients, but Rise just does them right.
Snappy Salads, Bam-Bam salad
The Bam-Bam used to be a special but recently got bumped up to regular menu status. No wonder, with its combination of baby spinach, baby arugula, lettuce mix, red cabbage, quinoa, red onion, dried cherries, and chopped almonds, in a housemade Sweet Parsley dressing. It officially comes with pulled chicken, if you must. Check it out at their new location downtown.
T Room, Green Goddess salad
The T Room is one of the city’s top 5 ladies-who-lunch spots and you know that means salad. (Sorry to resort to stereotypes.) The winner is the Green Goddess salad with Romaine lettuce, hearts of palm, artichoke, tomato, and Parmesan chees tossed in a house-made green goddess dressing. Divine.
Taverna, beet salad
Beet salads sort of peaked in 2015 (to be replaced by kale, duh), but Alberto Lombardi’s Italian mini-chain keeps the flame burning with an exceptional version that has roasted beets, mache, spinach, toasted hazelnuts, goat cheese, in a honey Champagne dressing.
Lindsey Wilson and Jessica Baldwin contributed to this story.