Thanks to resolutions, fresh starts and new beginnings, January is synonymous with diets — and with diets, come salads.
I’m certainly not saying you should go paleo or keto or Whole 30 or whatever fad diet is hot nowadays, but it doesn’t hurt to introduce some veggies to your life now and then! They have vitamins, I’ve heard.
The problem with “salad” is that it conjures an image of a limp pile of iceberg lettuce with some cucumbers and tomatoes on top, smothered with stinky ranch. We have the infamous “house salad” to blame for that.
However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from occasionally giving into my body’s desperate plea for greens, it’s that there are plenty of memorable — CRAVEABLE, even — salads to be had around town. We’ve rounded up just a few of our favorites.
Sidenote: If you don’t see meat listed in the ingredients, be assured you can always add some for a few bucks.
Steak and Avocado Caesar
Salt & Pepper Savory Grill and Pub
11539 E. Lakewood Blvd., Holland
If you’re wary of those crazy salads with stuff you’ve never heard of like “gorgonzola” and “garbanzo,” this is the dish for you. Take a nice seasoned steak and put it on a pile of crisp romaine tossed with Caesar dressing, then give it some life with avocado, red onion, croutons and shaved parmesan. It’s simple, it’s hearty, it’s satisfying — what more do you need?
1429 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids
If you’re feeling more adventurous, head to Terra for the Gazelle 2.0. The first iteration of the salad had a cumin vinaigrette that I miss, though I’ll admit it was a strange concept. This new version has tons of farro, mixed greens, green lentils, farm vegetables, smoked walnuts and a lemongrass vinaigrette. It’s a grain-heavy salad that feels like a meal without weighing you down, and it’s half-off during happy hour!
648 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
Pear, goat cheese, figs, pepitas, croutons and lemon vinaigrette, all on a bed of mixed greens. It’s a return to elegant simplicity, with just a few unique ingredients all getting their time in the spotlight. Sweet, creamy and citrusy — that’s the stuff.
Roasted Beet Salad
1223 Plainfield Ave., Grand Rapids
Beet salads are popular all over, but some places definitely give more respect than others. Graydon’s take is generous, bright and juicy. Roasted beets, burrata cheese, daikon radish, pepitas and zesty lemon poppy seed dressing on mixed greens. If you can get some cheese, beet and leaves in one bit, it’s a beautiful combination of textures and flavors that’ll turn you into a regular Dwight Schrute.
Social Salad Bowl
Social Kitchen & Bar
435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
Of course, the best part about salads is that so many places let you craft your own! At Social Kitchen, you choose from nearly 40 ingredients and six dressings to create your perfect concoction. Dried cranberries, avocado, bacon, pine nuts, cauliflower — they have it all.
Fresh Thyme Salad Bar
2470 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids
Fresh Thyme’s lineup is the Coachella of salad bars, stacked with just about every premium salad ingredient you could ask for, from quinoa to fresh mozzarella and plenty of pre-made mixes. The best part is, it’s all just charged by weight, so you can get whatever you want guilt-free! My girlfriend recommends it highly, and she’s a salad savant.
Forest Hills Foods Salad Bar
Forest Hills Foods
4668 Cascade Rd. SE, Grand Rapids
Forest Hills Foods has a huge salad bar as well, filled with leaves, meats, toppings and dressings of all kinds. Plus, they have a hot bar as well, so if you really wanted to add some mashed potatoes and gravy to your salad, no one’s stopping you!
Other Superb Salads
Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop
1133 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
Chili pickled asparagus, sautéed peppers and onions, shredded purple brussels sprouts, tricolor quinoa, organic baby kale, peanut dressing.
Fresh spinach, bleu cheese crumbles, apple, red onion, pecans, raisins, raspberry vinaigrette and crunchy pretzel croutons.
Michigan Harvest Salad
The Green Well
924 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids
Gala apples, Traverse County dried cherries, red onion, mixed greens, toasted walnuts, goat cheese, Michigan honey-cinnamon vinaigrette.
Anything At Bliss & Vinegar
435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
888 Forest Hill Ave., Grand Rapids
Bliss & Vinegar has a whole slew of pre-picked salad options for you, or you can build your own from scratch! The star here is the dressing, most of which are vinaigrettes.