Great Greens: 10 Spots for Big Salads Around LA

By Lesley Balla  |  January 6, 2014
Credit: True Food Kitchen

With America's Salad Bowl just to the north of us, LA is never lacking in the salad department. And it's not just for clean New Year's Resolution eating, either. Big salads for lunch or dinner, and even breakfast, is a way of life here. While the rest of the country shovels in root vegetables and soup in the winter, we're gorging on big bowls of fresh, tender leafy greens topped with an array of seasonal vegetables and fruits, roasted meats (or even faux meat), beans, grains and more. It's even more amplified in the summer. When the craving for a big salad hits, check out one of these 10 spots.

  • Credit: Mendocino Farms

    Mendocino Farms

    Known for ultimate sandwich creations with farm-fresh ingredients, this growing local chain has big salads that sate any appetite. The kale Caesar offers a nice twist on the classic with a mix of locally grown butter lettuce and romaine, crispy wheat berries, onions, grape tomatoes, avocado and a lemon-Parmesan vinaigrette, and we’re fans of the Save Drake Farms salad, which features goat cheese from Drake.

  • Credit: California Chicken Cafe

    California Chicken Cafe

    The rotisserie chicken here is the star, and it makes a pretty delectable Chinese chicken salad among others. The 411 Salad - lettuce topped with your choice of four ingredients, one protein and one side - is the way to go for picky eaters.

  • Cafe Gratitude

    With names like “Fulfilled” and “Pure,” which are often ordered by saying, “I am pure,” or “I am fulfilled,” the salads at the two locations of this vegan spot instantly make you feel better. With everything from marinated kale, tons of fresh vegetables and beets, to kelp noodles tossed with almond sauce and sunflower sprouts, you will feel pure, terrific and fulfilled after eating any of them.

  • Credit: Greenleaf

    Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop

    Since 2008, this quick-serve salad shop has been serving fresh greens topped with everything from berries, grapes, walnuts, apples, blue cheese and whole-grain pomegranate vinaigrette (the Antioxidant Orchard), to black beans, avocado, sunflower seeds, jalapeño Jack cheese and chipotle-orange sauce (Mexiplosion) in Beverly Hills. Now with four locations (two in Orange County), you can have the house salads or build your own creations from the world of toppings.

  • Credit: Veggie Grill

    Veggie Grill

    This vegan spots’ All Hail Kale salad - a combination of kale, quinoa, red cabbage slaw, corn salsa, agave-roasted walnuts, ginger-papaya vinaigrette, and tempeh or blackened faux chicken strips - is one of the most popular kale salads in LA. But the new Quinoa Power Salad - kale, quinoa, avocado, fennel, cannellini beans, carrots, almonds, currants, hemp seeds, mint and citrus dressing - might usurp the throne.

  • Credit: Tender Greens

    Tender Greens

    The name says it all. This chain created by three local chefs has been growing and growing and growing up and down the West Coast, all the while keeping their commitment to using locally grown greens on our plates, along with other seasonal (often organic) produce. There are standard dishes across each location, but also specials, like the grilled octopus salad at Santa Monica with wild arugula, roasted fingerling potatoes, shaved fennel, marinated chickpeas, olives and grilled lemon vinaigrette. The big salads are meant to be full meals, especially when topped with buttermilk fried chicken, seared albacore tuna, salmon or perfectly grilled steak. A cup of soup and a cupcake never hurt, either.

  • Credit: RFD

    Real Food Daily

    Ann Gentry made a name with her plant-based cuisine 20 years ago, and RFD’s salads (and more) are as popular as they were in 1993. It’s one of those places where even a carnivore can dine happy, especially with something like the Caesar with its blue-corn croutons, to the kale with cucumber, sesame and avocado, or the super-enriched Mediterranean bowl with arugula, za’atar dressing, red quinoa tabouli, white bean salad and flatbread on the side. And now she’s the first to sell a vegan menu at an airport.

  • Hugo’s

    We’ve heard more than a few people profess their love of the Power of Green salad - spinach and other organic leafy greens, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, dried cherries, avocado and sunflower seeds - but they haven’t had the breakfast salad. A plate piled with turmeric rice scrambled with egg whites plus almonds, currants, spinach, mushrooms and ginger on mixed greens is the perfect balance for a whole day.

  • Credit: True Food Kitchen

    True Food Kitchen

    Like many others on this list, salads aren’t the only reason to visit this popular Santa Monica restaurant. But just about any one of them make full meals, all based on Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. Chopped salads with squash, apples, pomegranate, walnuts and goat cheese, or roasted broccoli, root vegetables, coconut, almonds and sultana, can be more filling topped with grilled chicken or salmon.

  • Credit: Mixt

    Mixt Greens

    There are so many salads to choose from here - steak with blue cheese and potatoes; vegan with green papaya, jicama and Thai-inspired vinaigrette; a great Cobb - but the office workers in Miracle Mile and Downtown LA know it's all about the customizable salad for the picky or undecided. Choose from a slew of greens, toppings, proteins and dressings for your ultimate salad, and watch the cooks toss it all for the perfect mix.