The saddest thing in the world is a salad with no substance. I’m talking a small, flimsy salad crafted of nothing but lettuce, tomato and carrot shreds. Maybe even a few slices of cucumber, and some ranch dressing.
Luckily, the Charlotte dining scene has an abundance of gorgeous, hearty salad options for salad worshipers such as myself, vegetarian or carnivorous. And as intriguing as the Chopt salad concept is (how do they stay so busy?), let’s talk local options today.
Here are 15 of the most incredible salads in Charlotte, ranked.
705 S. Sharon Amity Road and 1616 Camden Road, Suite 150
What’s on it: Grilled blackened shrimp tossed with romaine, black bean corn salsa,
red onion, cilantro, tortilla strips and pineapple sriracha. (Vegetarian friends: Ask for an extra heap of black bean corn salsa on that puppy in lieu of shrimp.)
Tip: The lettuce is always bright and crisp, and the tortilla strips pack a satisfyingly salty crunch. Plus, you can order this salad as a wrap instead, if you’re in sandwich mode.
1500 W. Morehead St. #E and 400 S. Tryon St.
What’s on it: This is the kind of salad worth getting to-go, to combat sad-desk-lunch blues, with its mezculin mix, dried cranberries, carrots, tomatoes, croutons, roasted pecans, onions and a choice dressing. You can add chicken or portabella for $1.99.
Tip: You can order a secret scoop of hummus. It’s treated like an added meat in price. (You’re welcome.)
2007 Commonwealth Ave., 4420A Monroe Road, 235 W. Tremont St. (in spring 2018)
What’s on it: A bed of mixed greens, tomato, cucumber and carrots heaped with a generous scoop (or two) of chicken, tuna, hummus, tabbouleh, “chickenless” or egg salad.
Price: $6.25 for one scoop, $8.25 for two scoops
Tip: For heaven’s sake, get two scoops of whatever it is you’re craving. The hummus is eternally creamy and thick, and extra satisfying with a generous drizzle sriracha.
8 locations including 415 Hawthorne Lane and 3205 N. Davidson Street
What’s in it: Shredded lettuce paired with queso, rice, refried/black beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, cotija cheese and a choice of protein. Proteins included in the price are ground beef, shredded chicken, grilled chicken, black beans, grilled veggies and cheese. Proteins for an additional $1 are grilled steak, chorizo sausage, al pastor pork, tofu ranchero (om nom!). Proteins for an additional $2 are grilled tilapia and grilled shrimp. All of this is thrown into a flour tortilla bowl.
Price: $7.25 (with base protein)
Tip: Take your stuffed tortilla bowl over to the salsa bar and lop on a variety of salsas.
274 S. Sharon Amity Road
What’s in it: This earthy bowl of goodness features brown rice and quinoa salad, shredded carrots, cucumber and avocado with ginger dressing — and it’s everything you crave after a yoga class (especially if you take one at Y2 Yoga next door). Add a protein in the form of grilled chicken breast ($5), beet burger ($5), fried tofu ($4), sweet potato falafel ($4), salmon ($8), turkey burger ($7), cast iron hanger steak ($12), Creekstone Farms all-natural beef burger ($8), roasted pork belly ($6), shrimp ($4), fresh lobster meat ($14), garlic-braised beef short rib ($9).
Price: $11 (without added protein)
Tip: If you’ve never tried sweet potato falafel, the time is now. Imagine crispy clouds of deliciousness.
138 Brevard Ct.
What’s in it: The salad at this Turkish hole in the wall is simplistic, with hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, black olives and cacik sauce. The whole combination is so cool and fresh.
Tip: Take your salad up the narrow stairwell to the often-overlooked upstairs lounge. You can snag a stool by the window for a view of the French Quarter.
What’s in it: The name says it all. This is a giant, lovely salad with beets, green beans, goat cheese, garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds and a dressing of your choice (I love the dijon). Add protein in the form of lemon herb chicken or crispy chicken ($6), pan roasted salmon ($12) or shrimp ($9), or quinoa tabbouleh ($4).
Price: $7 for a small portion, $12 for a large portion (without extra protein).
Tip: The large portion is the only way the salad name makes sense. Order accordingly.
1608 East Blvd.
What’s in it: Expect an elegant presentation of garden greens mixed with tri-color quinoa, fennel, pistachio, mandarin orange, cilantro yogurt and lemon vinaigrette. You can add protein in the form of wood-fire-grilled Scottish salmon ($7), wood-fired portobello ($4), fire-roasted shrimp ($6) or pulled wood-fired chicken ($4).
Price: $9.95 (without additional protein)
Tip: If you’re hankering for some extra heartiness, someone needs to split that baked spinach and feta dip ($7.95) with you, STAT. It’s served with pita.
1419 East Blvd., Suite A
What’s in it: If you’re debating between something breakfast-y and something more substantial, coconut bacon is what you need. That’s what you’ll find here, artfully arranged with green bell pepper slices, red onion, avocado, quinoa, cherry tomatoes and mixed lettuce with a tahini vinaigrette.
Tip: Bring a date and split the vegan Buffalo Cauliflower, breaded and fried and served with buffalo sauce and buttermilk dill ($10).
110 S. Sharon Amity Road and 202 Main St., Fort Mill, SC
What’s in it: Whether you’re a meat-lover or just want something meaty (hello, smoked tofu), this is the answer to your salad dreams. Choose pulled pork, chicken or smoked tofu to place atop mixed greens, roasted sweet potatoes, pickled onions, cheddar cheese and carrots, swirled with honey mustard dressing.
Tip: You may need a takeout box. The portion is delightfully gargantuan.
6401 Morrison Blvd., #8a
What’s in it: So fresh, so crisp, with hints spice and sweetness in a glorious blend — this salad is mountainous, with romaine, chopped tomato, jicama, sweet onion, avocado, scallions, garbanzo beans, cucumbers, corn, roasted red peppers and queso fresco with the added creaminess of a chipotle ranch dressing. (Because chipotle is really the only thing that can save ranch from itself.)
Price: $7 for a small salad, $10 for a large salad
Tip: I’m sorry. Why would you not order the large portion?
1600 W.Morehead St. and 9818 Gilead Road B-101, Huntersville
What’s in it: When you want something fresh and light, with an edge of fried danger, get the Tahini Salad featuring four falafel cakes floating atop mixed greens, red onion, cucumber, feta cheese, tomato, pepperoncini and toasted sesame seeds with tahini dressing. You can also add bacon ($1.50), chicken ($3) or six shrimp ($5).
Price: $7.50, without added protein.
Tip: For some extra veggie protein, order a side of the black-eyed-pea salad ($2.75).
2000 South Blvd. Suite 300 and 4521 Sharon Road, Suite 175
What it is: Indulge in spicy, raw deliciousness with slices of avocado, pico de gallo, sprouts, walnut-almond meat and cashew sour cream presented on a bed of romaine and served with hot sauce and sun dried tomato sesame crackers. For some more oomph, you can add a veggie burger (I recommend the Fire & Brimstone for the heat) or trumpet mushroom bacon for an additional $5.
Price: $14.50 without additional protein
Tip: Ask for extra hot sauce.
720 Gov Morrison St.
What’s in it: I am repeatedly beamed back to this place like an alien to its spaceship. So I’m going to tell you exactly how you should build your own bowl: Romaine as the base, lusciously topped with baba ganoush and the Moroccan Zaluk spreads, plus cucumber and tomato salad, purple cabbage slaw, sumac onions, kalamata olives, chickpeas, beets, feta cheese, pickled cucumber, tabbouleh and a scoop of roasted Brussels sprouts.
Price: $10.80 for my creation. Pricing varies per protein choice, with additional options like Shawarma Chicken ($2), falafel ($2), beef kofta ($3), Baharat spiced beef and pine nuts ($3), roasted mixed mushrooms ($2), and pulled rotisserie lamb ($4).
Tip: Also ask for a side of tahini and a side of schug (cilantro jalapeno sauce). And maybe some Granch (Greek yogurt ranch).
[Insert mic drop here.]
20210 Henderson Road, Cornelius
What’s in it: Avocado, egg and brown butter saltines with lettuce graced with the creamiest dressing. I give this the No. 1 slot (a) even though I swapped additional eggs for the crab with my order and (b) purely because I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. It’s delicate and light, and something about the salty cracker crumble contrasted with the sweet, creamy dressing is truly divine.
Tip: If’ you’re a desperate vegetarian like me, the chef is kind enough to add additional egg (so, so jammy) in lieu of crab.
Salad lovers, rejoice.
Did I miss anything amazing? Comment below.