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.
That said, not all LA salads are created equal (especially those sad build-your-own ones you see people eating every day at that place across the street from your gym). 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 great. 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 the best salads in LA.
Your Order: Garden Of Lettuce Salad
When it comes to eating insanely fresh vegetables, Rustic Canyon is a place that deserves a permanent spot on your list. So it comes as no surprise that this fancy-ish spot in Santa Monica has a salad good enough to cross the 405 on a weekday. The Garden of Lettuce is pretty simple (it’s basically just a bunch of leaves with radishes and avocado underneath), but everything tastes like it was picked that day and the shallot vinaigrette is straight-up addicting. It’s not big enough to be a solo entree, but you should put this on the table as a starter.
Your order: Egg Salad
Friends & Family is an excellent all-day cafe in East Hollywood. While they have actual salads on their menu (that are mostly very good), we’re choosing their egg salad because it’s better than any egg salad we’ve ever had and because we live in a free country. Mixed with mayo and tarragon, this is a perfect combination of creamy and bittersweet, which oddly enough is also how we’d describe our love life.
Your Order: Macaroni Salad
Is a macaroni salad actually salad? Considering there’s salad in its name, we say yes, and please don’t fight us on it. If you want some mayonnaise-doused heaven noodles, go to Greenblatt’s. This old-school Jewish deli on the Sunset Strip is open 24 hours a day and has a mac salad that’s creamy but not too creamy, with some red peppers for crunch.
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: The Spinning Salad
The title of LA’s Oldest Salad doesn’t exactly sound like a compliment. But it is. This Beverly Hills institution has been going strong since the 1930s, and outside of the prime rib, their spinning salad is the most famous item on the menu. Filled with chopped eggs, beets, croutons, and their “vintage dressing,” this won’t be the most creative bowl of lettuce you eat this year, but it’s literally spinning on a table in front of you. Count your blessings.
Your Order: Endive Salad
You don’t walk into Petit Trois expecting to eat something healthy. This is the home of a cheese-oozing burger, and we’re pretty sure everything else involves more than your average daily serving of butter. But if you have some self-control, go for the endive salad - a pile of endives on top of chunks of avocado on top of an incredible walnut vinaigrette. In case you were feeling too healthy, it’s all topped with a mountain of cheese.
Your Order: Spicy Vietnamese Salad
The industrial-ish cafe on La Brea has become well-known for all of its phenomenal lunch foods, but it’s the Spicy Vietnamese that takes the cake (or salad?) for us. The shredded chicken is great, but it’s all the chiles and peanuts and lemon vinaigrettes mixed in that make it so addictive. Also: It’s. Actually. Spicy.
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 actually can’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 over the hill every time.
Your Order: Caesar Salad
There are a lot of well-thought-out, beautifully constructed and plated salads on this list - the caesar at Dan Tana’s is not one of them. Made by an old Italian guy in the corner of the dining room, Dan Tana’s is the kind of old-school caesar you grew up eating at family reunions and still dream about when you have to eat other caesar salads.
Your Order: Southwestern Salad
HealthyCA is 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 looking for a not-sad salad on your lunch hour, this is your easy solution.
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. But 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. And hey, there’s Larry King in the corner having one too.
Your Order: Caribbean Chicken Salad
Don Cuco does not have the best Mexican food in LA. But this nearly 50-year-old Burbank spot is still a Valley staple and where studio execs will get trashed after work until the end of time. Also, they have the Caribbean Chicken Salad. Pineapple, tomato, avocado, raisins, and beans with a handful of tortilla strips on top helps wipe away any notion that you actually ordered a salad.
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 from the dark side in here, because there’s no other explanation for how they make this so good. You’re going to need something to balance out all the pizza and pasta you eat here, and it should be this salad.
Your Order: Vermicelli Salad
The vermicelli salad at Croft is the salad for people who don’t really do salads. The base is rice noodles, not greens (although there are some of those too), and there are pickled carrots, cucumber, and crispy shallots on top. The real star though is the tangy coconut dressing. This thing makes you feel healthy even when you’re actually just eating a bowl of noodles.
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 is also not really very good for you. 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 the original.
Your Order: Caesar Salad
The caesar salad at Huckleberry is sometimes a kale version, sometimes lettuce, and either way, always part of our regular rotation here. It’s nothing fancy - a big bowl of greens with croutons and parmesan, some cranberries, and a lot of dressing. Which is the right way to be with caesar dressing.