The Best Salads In LA guide image


The Best Salads In LA

15 salads you can actually brag about eating.

Salad is to LA what cheesesteak is to Philadelphia—a complete and utter cliche, but also something we suspect roughly half the city is eating at any given moment. If you’re going to stick a bunch of vegetables in your mouth at once, you might as well find a salad that’s actually worth your time. And you live in a city that’s full of them. We can’t promise all of these are healthy, but we can promise they won’t make you sad. Here are the best salads in LA that are substantial enough to be a full meal (i.e., no side salads). Thank us later.

The Spots

The Sycamore Kitchen

Your Order: Avocado Cobb

Navigating street parking near La Brea and Beverly can be a chore, but Sycamore Kitchen makes the ordeal worthwhile with its solid daytime menu. Besides hearty breakfast sandwiches, this Hancock Park spot also knows how to make great salads, including an avocado cobb with creamy, tangy dressing. The dish gets its name from the half-avocado resting on top, but it’s really an afterthought. There’s also a delicious balance of bacon bits, hard-boiled egg, and lighter things like dill, sweet cherry tomatoes, and a spritz of lemon.

Paper Rice

Your Order: Spring Bowl

Paper Rice is a fast-casual spot in Old Town Pasadena that takes the standard build-your-own bowl/wrap/salad formula and applies it to Vietnamese food. Groundbreaking? No. Delicious? Yes. The move here is to assemble one of their refreshing spring bowls: a bed of fresh greens topped with a protein of choice, plus a crispy egg roll, carrot-daikon pickles, cucumbers, lots of fresh herbs, crunchy fried bits, and a variety of dressings (ask them to mix the traditional citrus and savory peanut). If putting a BYO salad on this guide feels too much like a cop-out, try their house special sauteed salad, made with romaine, sweet onions, shrimp, marinated beef, and sliced boiled eggs.

Your Order: Kale Salad

When you only have 30 minutes to inhale lunch and the thought of eating Sweetgreen again makes you want to scream obscenities in your car, head to The Win-Dow. This streamlined takeout spot is best known for its pocket-sized burgers, but they also have a shaved kale salad on their short menu which proves why LA’s clichéd obsession with kale salads exists in this first place. This one is particularly delicious with a lemony sweet vinaigrette and tons of sharp black pepper and pecorino that makes it taste like a leafy cacio e pepe. The extra crispy, olive oil-y croutons are also a highlight and half the reason why you should immediately eat this salad on one of Win-Dow’s outdoor stools.

Your Order: Istanbul Salad

The Istanbul Salad at Dr. Sandwich is the textbook definition of a “meal salad”—it involves the same heaping pile of juicy chicken shawarma you’d get on their standard plate but comes served on a big bed of cucumbers, tomatoes, and shredded cabbage. There’s also smoky roasted eggplant, sweet grilled onions, and a bright lemon vinaigrette cut with the tahini on top. This salad also holds together well in the fridge, which is a key detail because, ultimately, it’s a lot of chicken and cabbage to get through in one sitting.

Your Order: Good Ass Salad

The name of this salad at All Time in Los Feliz is an accurate description. It could also, in fact, be called a big ass salad because it easily serves two to three people as a side––or perhaps one person if you’re keen on eating a huge bowl of leafy greens. The salad tastes straight-from-the-farmers-market fresh, made with a seasonal cast of produce like strawberries, figs, and apple slices that pack an audible crunch. The remaining lettuce, pumpkin seeds, and watermelon radish appear year-round, all tossed in a tart, somewhat floral-y sweet dressing. It’s pretty straightforward, but for an uncomplicated and refreshing salad, this is the pinnacle. 

Your Order: Crispy Crab Salad

Yes, this is a $29 salad, but you’re also eating it while sitting on a fancy Sunset Strip rooftop overlooking the city. These things go hand-in-hand. Most importantly though, the salad itself is worth the price point. Mixed tableside by the waitstaff, it’s a loose riff on Burmese tea leaf salad, only here it’s amped up with plump crab meat, crispy puffed rice, and a sweet palm sugar vinaigrette. It’s also quite spicy, thanks to the generous amount of red chiles hiding underneath the mint leaves. It’s a fresh, fragrant, and deeply savory salad that’s ideal for a light business lunch.

The West Hollywood Lunch Guide guide image

LA Guide

The West Hollywood Lunch Guide

Your Order: Chinese Chicken Salad

Stanley’s in Sherman Oaks doesn’t try to reinterpret the chinese chicken salad, but it does perfect it. Everything about this classic version is light, bright, and kind of impossible not to eat at a ferocious rate, from the juicy shredded chicken to the generous drizzle of tangy sesame dressing that coats every piece of lettuce. It’s also not weighed down by fried wonton strips—instead, crunchy rice noodles, slivered almonds, and a reasonable amount of mandarin oranges are showered on top. If you’re looking for more of an agrodolce feel, opt for Amy’s Grapefruit Salad, which swaps in avocado and is made with the same delicious dressing.

Your Order: Kale Salad

Jame Enoteca is one of our favorite places to eat pasta in the South Bay. Or anywhere, for that matter. But if you come to the tiny Italian spot in El Segundo and only concentrate on rigatoni, you’re missing out on one of the better dishes on the entire menu: the kale salad. We could point to the razor-thin chop on the kale itself, or the slightly pungent parmesan cheese, or the sweet and spicy almond vinaigrette lightly dressed throughout. But what makes this salad great aren’t the individual elements. It’s the balance of everything together, taking this dish from being just another kale salad to one you intentionally seek out.

Your Order: California Chicken Salad

California Chicken Cafe wins the award for having the salad you can depend on during another midweek life crisis. Yes, California Chicken Cafe is a chain, but we do not care. There’s something about eating this giant pile of chicken, feta, avocado, pasta, carrots, croutons, bell peppers, and broccoli that feels like you’re being hugged by your mom on a sick day.

Your Order: Crispy Rice Salad

This tiny North Hollywood staple is one of the most overlooked Thai restaurants in LA. And while pretty much everything on the menu is fantastic, you shouldn’t leave without ordering the crispy rice salad. They’ve been serving it here since the 1980s (long before you became obsessed with the one at Night + Market), and for good reason—this minty, slightly spicy classic is worth the drive every time.

Your Order: Southwestern Salad

HealthyCA is arguably the best place to get a salad in the Valley, and the best salad here is the Southwestern. Not only is it massive, but all those ingredients stacked on top (corn, beans, jicama, pepitas, avocado, bell peppers) are also as fresh and delicious as they come. If you’re a studio worker looking for a not-sad salad during your lunch hour, this is your easy solution.

Your Order: Gem Lettuce Salad

The gem lettuce salad at this Fairfax staple is simple: little gem leaves, chili dressing, parmesan, and breadcrumbs. But we maintain there’s a fifth ingredient sourced from the dark side in here, because there’s no other explanation for how they make this so good. You’re probably going to need something to balance out all the pizza and pasta you eat at Jon & Vinny's, and it should be this salad.

Your Order: Fresh Corn Grill Salad

Whenever we’ve had one too many rich meals, the namesake salad from Fresh Corn Grill is our lifeline. Each of the ingredients in this gathering of vegetables is so fresh and colorful, that by the end of the meal, a glowing halo of health is floating above your head. Asparagus, corn, and zucchini have noticeable char marks and come chopped to the optimal bite-size, then get mixed with avocado, sliced cherry tomatoes, a bitter green mix, and a light vinaigrette. The option to add grilled chicken, salmon, steak, or shrimp is also available—we usually go with the consistently juicy chicken, since it takes on the flavor of the surrounding ingredients. A little-known secret is that this is essentially identical to the “Grilled Vegetable Salad” you’ll find at The Ivy. The Fresh Corn founders got their start cooking there, and brought their cult salad recipe with them.

Your Order: Nancy’s Chopped Salad

Inspired by La Scala’s classic chop, Nancy’s chopped salad at Pizzeria Mozza is the kind of salad that could constitute an entire meal, and somehow manages to push the limits of what a salad even is. Sure, there’s lettuce, but there’s also (thankfully) a whole lot of salami and provolone to cancel it out. It’s a balanced meal in salad form, and might just be better than its original inspiration.

Your Order: Chopped Salad

La Scala is a restaurant best known for its lunchtime Bravo celebrity crowd, but it’s also home to what is possibly the city’s most famous salad: a giant mound of chopped lettuce, salami, mozzarella, and garbanzo beans. If there ever was a salad that was closer to a soup, it would be this one. And despite how unpalatable that might sound, we mean it as a compliment. Also, the real trick here is to think of the salad itself as only a base for the many, many things you’ll add—pepperoncini, cucumbers, and tomatoes are a good place to start.

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photo credit: Jakob Layman

The Best Salads In LA guide image