After what seems like an eternally windy and cool summer, the weather seems to finally be taking a turn for the better, with warm temperatures and sunny skies predicted for this week (at least). Now that we’re starting to move into our strange Bay Area summer, it is the perfect time to put away the soups and stews and dive into a plate of something more refreshing.
From simple leafy greens to elaborate Burmese tea-leaf salads, we’ve got countless salad options to choose from in the East Bay. Here at team Nosh, we’ve picked out 11 of our favorite options, listed below in no particular order. And if we’ve left off your favorite, let us know in the comments below.
OMG Omega, Sweetgreen, Berkeley
Berkeley’s Sweetgreen has meal-sized salads in spades, many of which are winners, but our favorite is the chain’s signature OMG Omega. The “omega” in question comes from roasted steelhead trout, which sits upon a bed of arugula, baby spinach, basil, cucumbers and tomatoes. Creamy avocado pieces complement the trout, as does a savory miso-sesame-ginger dressing (get it dressed “medium”) and a dusting of salty, umami-laced nori furikake. Sweetgreen is at 1890 Shattuck Ave. (at Hearst Street), Berkeley. Connect with Sweetgreen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Niçoise, Le Petit Cochon, Berkeley
Tuna lovers would do well to head to Berkeley’s Le Petit Cochon for a Niçoise salad fix — the hearty composed salad offers a generous mix of flaked tuna, crisp green beans, perfectly boiled potatoes, just-set hard-boiled eggs, roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, tapenade and anchovies, all on a bed of fresh baby lettuces. A sherry vinaigrette keeps things bright and zippy. Other favorite salads from the French café include duck confit over greens and “Chef Todd’s Salad,” which includes ham, turkey, bacon and blue cheese. Le Petit Cochon is at 1801 Shattuck Ave. (at Delaware Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.
Garden Lettuce Salad, Standard Fare, West Berkeley
For a simple green salad, you can’t do much better than the garden lettuce salad at Standard Fare in West Berkeley. Chef Kelsie Kerr’s simple red wine vinaigrette somehow makes the tender lettuces from Blue Heron Farms taste more like themselves, and a light hand with that dressing keeps the salad bright, crisp and fresh. Order the salad alongside a half sandwich — there are both vegetarian and meat-filled options — for a satisfying lunch. Standard Fare is at 2701 8th Street #118 (at Carleton Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram.
Caesar Salad, Paisan, West Berkeley
Simple, yet satisfying, is the chopped Caesar salad at West Berkeley’s Paisan. There’re are no bells and whistles here, just a well-seasoned, punchy dressing; chopped crisp romaine lettuce; large, rustic garlic croutons; and a generous dusting of grated Parmesan. It’s lightly dressed for a Caesar, but that’s all the better when you’re following it up with a pizza (or two). Paisan is at at 2514 San Pablo Ave. (at Dwight Way), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
Curried Chicken Salad, Elmwood Café, The Elmwood
While the Elmwood Café‘s signature curry chicken salad comes standard on a sandwich, it wouldn’t be a mistake to ask for the creamy, nutty salad on a bed of mixed greens. Currants, almonds, and scallions add texture to the Mary’s Free Range chicken and delicious homemade mayonnaise. A balanced dose of curry powder adds piquancy without overwhelming the delicate flavor of the chicken. Elmwood Café is at 2900 College Ave. (at Russell Street), Berkeley. Connect with the café on Facebook and Instagram.
Poached Egg & Bacon Salad, Southie, Rockridge
All of the salads from Rockridge’s Southie are popular, but Nosh’s favorite is the poached egg and bacon, set atop a bed of mixed romaine and frisée. A smattering of couscous and thinly sliced radishes add contrasting chew and crunch, while the truffle vinaigrette gives the savory salad an even greater punch of umami. Those wanting an even more decadent salad would be wise to consider the fried chicken salad with zippy piquillo peppers and roasted lime vinaigrette. Southie is at 6311 College Ave. (at 63rd Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
Kale and Toasted Quinoa Salad, The Cook and Her Farmer, Old Oakland
A 2016 salad list would be incomplete without a kale salad, and our pick for the top of an ever-crowded field is the kale and toasted quinoa salad at The Cook and Her Farmer in Old Oakland’s Swan’s Marketplace. Crisp shredded purple cabbage and bright orange carrots break up the hearty shredded kale leaves, and a mix of currants, orange segments and pumpkin seeds add a pop of brightness and crunch. Order the salad alongside a grilled cheese or a po’boy if you’re looking for a more decadent meal. Or grab an order of avocado toast — it may be a cliched combination, but it’s still darn tasty. The Cook and Her Farmer is at 510 9th St. (at Washington Street), Oakland. Connect with the business on Facebook and Instagram.
Salad Bar, Liba Falafel, Downtown Oakland
All salad lovers know that the best salad is often one you assemble yourself; when choosing from a well-crafted salad bar, it is easy to strike your perfect balance of savory, sweet and salty. Liba Falafel‘s brick-and-mortar outpost in downtown Oakland offers some of the best, and most colorful, options. Start with a bed of baby greens and pile on as many toppings, dips and veggies as you can fit in your bowl. Don’t skip the smoked baby ganoush if it’s there. The carrot salad and fried pickled onions are also must-haves. A few freshly fried falafel balls on top will keep you sated until dinner. (Side note: Liba owner Gail Lilian has recently launched a salad-centric farmers market stand called Lovabowl. Catch it at the Old Oakland, Grand Lake and Temescal markets.) Liba Falafel is at 380 17th St. (between Franklin and Webster streets), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.
Tea Leaf Salad, Grocery Café, East Oakland
In the East Bay, we’re blessed with our fair share of Burmese restaurants, each serving their version of crisp, refreshing and delightfully funky tea leaf salads. The best of the best comes from Grocery Café. There, chef William Lue ferments his own tea leaves, which sit atop crunchy shredded green cabbage. An abundance of toppings — skin-on peanuts, chickpeas, fried Burmese beans, toasted garlic, roasted shallots, dried shrimp, sesame seeds, tomatoes, red onions and peppers — get stirred in table side with fish sauce, oil and lime juice. Grocery Café is at 2248 10th Ave. (at East 23rd Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
Nam Khao, Champa Garden, East Oakland
East Oakland’s Champa Garden is an excellent choice for anyone in the mood for Laotian cuisine, and is home to a salad with perhaps the biggest cult following of all on this list — Nam Khao, or fried rice salad. In it, a fried ball of rice and coconut gets smashed and mixed with chewy, savory preserved pork, crunchy peanuts, green onions and a generous squeeze of lime juice. Alongside come herbs and lettuce leaves for wrap-making, but the salad is just as good eaten with a fork. Order it as part of the sampler platter, and you’ll also get Lao sausages and spring rolls. Champa Garden is at 2102 8th Ave. (at East 21st Street), Oakland.
Summer Salad, The Half Orange, Fruitvale
Among all of the burgers, sausages and fried goodies (don’t miss the corn dog dots) at Fruitvale’s The Half Orange, you’ll find surprisingly well-crafted salads. A current favorite is the Summer Salad, with baby greens, paper-thin slices of California peaches, corn, marinated fennel and a tangy, herbaceous green goddess dressing. A few small rounds of breaded and fried herb goat cheese will keep you from feeling too virtuous while getting your veggie fill. Get in and have a taste before the seasonal salad is gone. The Half Orange is at 3340 E. 12th St. (at E. 33rd Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Twitter.
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