Like taxes and forever clicking ‘update tomorrow’, salads often feel like a sad and inevitable part of adulthood you impose upon yourself after four days of frozen chicken nuggets and countless pints. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Open your heart, open your mind, and most importantly, open your stomach to a world where salads can actually be delicious and filling. In fact, when the sun is shining and the vegetables are on point, you can’t get better than one of these great London salads. From a build-your-own Shoreditch spot that has huge ‘al desko’ potential to a fattoush salad that comes with a side of big party energy, these are the vegetable-packed dishes that absolutely won’t make you sad.
Atis is one of those lowkey healthy restaurants we always pictured ourselves spending our lunches in once we finally grew-up and traded cigarettes for vitamin B12. We’re hoping that time will come any day now, but either way this build-your-own salad place in Shoreditch makes seriously tasty, satisfying lunches. There are countless flavour combinations to choose from, but if you’re as indecisive as a Love Island contestant ten seconds before a recoupling, don’t panic because they also have plenty of huge salads where they’ve already picked between lemon broccoli and miso ginger aubergine for you. We’re big fans of the Mighty Miso warm bowl in the colder months, but you can’t beat the black bean and feta-packed Azteca on one of those rare sunny London days.
To anyone who always opts for ‘teleportation’ as their superpower of choice, please know that you don’t actually have to, like, get bitten by a giant grandfather clock or something to teleport to Greece. You just need to get yourself to Meraki’s terrace on Great Titchfield Street, close your eyes, take a bite of their Mykonian salad and boom, suddenly you’re sitting in a bay overlooking the Aegean Sea contemplating whether you should have another glass of wine. Please note: you absolutely should. The salads at this feel-good restaurant are all about simple perfection in the form of high-quality ingredients, layers of olives, the juiciest Santorini cherry tomatoes, and there’s even a crispy filo spinach pie salad if you’re feeling particularly ravenous.
Chef Yotam Ottolenghi is widely regarded as the London King of Vegetables and when it comes to the salads at his restaurant Nopi, we very much consider ourselves to be royalists. No disrespect to Queen Lizzie, but we’re easily swayed by labneh, pine nuts, and grated tomato. On Soho’s Warwick Street, you’ll be greeted by huge platters of fresh salad as you walk into the sophisticated dining room, with everything from roasted aubergine to dates to fried garlic included in their vegetable dishes. If the crushed carrot and coconut number is on then consider it mandatory, but if you’re looking for more of a grab-and-go situation you can also opt for pick-up at one of the other Ottolenghi delis. God save our salad king.
We see your naff moldy supermarket caesar and raise you a minced chicken larb salad that is packed full of roasted rice, chilli, mint, and what we can only presume to be the tears of the world’s happiest lime. This classic north-eastern Thai salad is super refreshing and a great option if you’re not willing to trade flavour for eating your five-a-day. A small and simple but entirely satisfying café in Brixton, this place is also totally affordable with all of their salads under a tenner. Plus, it’s BYOB so pack your best beers or a zesty white to watch all that chilli goodness.
The first thing you should know about Jolene is that everything is just very, very nice. We’re talking wholesome scenes of toddlers tucking into marmalade shortbread, a big comfortable space you can spend hours in, and lots of happy contented faces from morning to evening. The second thing you should know is that their blackboard menu changes regularly, but there’s always some kind of salad on and yes, you should always order it. We’ve had a great guinea fowl salad here before and, importantly, everything tends to come snowed in parmesan and perfectly soaked in top-quality olive oil. See, it’s all very, very nice.
In our humble opinion, nuts are massively underrated and under used in salads. Chuck some crushed pistachios in a simple chicken salad and suddenly you’ve got yourself a deliciously textured protein party. Granger & Co is a restaurant that understands this way of thinking, especially when it comes to their classic poached chicken salad which is not only packed full of crunchy little slithers of pistachio, it’s also got green papaya, pomelo, and a healthy dose of chilli for good measure. A casual all-day restaurant in Clerkenwell, you can always count on this place to make a mean vegetarian dish, and although their salads can be a little more pricey than you might be used to - £17.50 tuna and avocado poke salad, we’re looking at you - it’s worth it if you’re after a soothing lunchtime sit-down with some excellent poached chicken for company.
If your current thought process looking at this plate of leaves is ‘HOW DARE THE INFATUATION DO THIS, I THOUGHT THEY KNEW ME AND MY LOVE FOR CARBOHYDRATES’ then please be patient. It’s all an optical illusion. This might look like a decorative plate of leaves for the world’s boujiest rabbit but look closer, do you see it? In the middle of the baby spinach is a majestic little pile of spicy prawns and yuzu dressing that once mixed in creates one of our all-time favourite salads in London. If this charming Japanese restaurant’s signature horenso salad doesn’t sound like your cup of delicious yuzu spinach metaphorical tea then know that they also do a fried crunchy squid salad and a simple avocado sashimi situation too.
You don’t have to be Chris Packham to get why eating seasonal salads that have come directly from a farm in Gloucestershire is a good idea. Fresh organic salads are exactly what you’ll find at this all-day café and farm shop in Chelsea, with all of their produce coming directly from the countryside. Although their classic chopped salads are fine, it’s the seasonal ones that will really put a smile on your face. You can match any of the seasonal options for £14 and, for obvious reasons, the options change regularly but you can expect everything from spicy toasted cashew slaws to juicy heritage apple and kale bowls.
Long before Harry Styles was repping the watermelon’s sexual street cred, the good people of Chick ‘N’ Sours were serving this great pickled watermelon salad. It’s tangy, it’s spicy, and it’s probably the worst nightmare of anyone who considers themself to be a coriander hater. Luckily, we are not those people and this is a great option for anyone who fancies a summer salad alongside an upbeat atmosphere. Combine with the szechuan aubergine and bang bang cucumbers for peak vegetable joy.
Contrary to popular belief, you are allowed to really stan a salad and also love the sesh. If you agree, then we would like to introduce you to Chameleon. This high-energy restaurant in a Grade I listed building near Regent’s Park serves a menu of Tel Aviv-inspired sharing plates alongside the musical offerings of a nice lady in a gold-glittered gown who wanders around their self-anointed ‘God’s Garden’ playing an electric violin. Yes, it is all a bit ridiculous, but the cocktails are great and the fattoush salad up there with the best in London. This probably isn’t the place for you if you like your salads with a side of peaceful solitude, but if you’re into partying over a feta-fest salad in a very lovely garden then you’ll love it.