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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

The best salads in New York City

These are not your bogus lunchtime leaves—packed with local produce and ancient grains, these restaurants are serving the best salads in New York City

By Christina Izzo and Time Out contributors

Classic lunch fixings include sandwiches, soup and, yes, the best salads in NYC. Resturants are giving sad salads a serious upgrade around New York, with hyperfresh produce plucked from the city’s best farmers’ markets. Whether you want an all-American classic or a Thai-style dish, these are the best salads in New York City.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best restaurants in NYC

Best salads in NYC

Photograph: Filip Wolak

1. Caesar salad at Carbone

Restaurants Italian Greenwich Village

The enormous menu, which opens as wide as The New York Times, reads like an encyclopedia of red-checkered classics. But co-chefs Torrisi and Carbone have made such dramatic improvements, you’ll barely recognize anything. You’ve never had a Caesar salad like their tableside masterpiece, a beautifully dressed, nuanced variation on the classic, amplified with warm garlic-bread croutons, two types of anchovies and three types of cheese. 

Keens Steakhouse
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Kenny C.

2.  Wedge salad at Keens Steakhouse

Restaurants Steakhouse Midtown West

The ceiling and walls are hung with pipes, some from such long-ago Keens regulars as Babe Ruth, J.P. Morgan and Teddy Roosevelt. Even in these nonsmoking days, you can catch a whiff of the restaurant’s 120-plus years of history. It’s a classic scene for a classic steak—Sirloin and porterhouse (for two or three) hold their own against any steak in the city—and a good steakhouse wedge, with Iceberg dressed traditionally with blue-cheese dressing, chopped tomatoes and bacon crumbles.

ABC Kitchen
Photograph: Noah Fecks

3. Roast carrot and avocado salad at ABC Kitchen

Restaurants Contemporary American Union Square
Few restaurants do salads quite like ABC Kitchen, spare bouquets of miniature veggies featuring rich adornments—sour cream dolloped onto avocado and sweet roasted carrots, endives and sugar-snaps showered in champagne vinegar and shaved Reggiano—that remind you there’s a French chef behind them.
Photograph: Liz Clayman

4. The big salad at Dimes

Restaurants Californian Chinatown

At this SoCal-inspired café, the lineup can change weekly. Expect colorful plates with equal parts Japanese, South American and Mediterranean influences like a bonito-chili–spiced black-rice bowl loaded with sweet potato and eggplant, and braised chicken in stick-to-your-ribs apricot couscous. Pump up a simple summer salad of cucumber and watermelon radish with seared tuna, hard-boiled eggs and avocado.

Superiority Burger
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Meg H.

5. Burnt broccoli salad at Superiority Burger

Restaurants Hamburgers East Village

In a white-tiled slip of an East Village eatery, former James Beard Award-winning Del Posto pastry great and erstwhile punk-rock drummer Brooks Headley gives his uberpopular veggie burger pop-up the brick-and-mortar treatment, offering the namesake patty, tofu-cabbage wraps and this bold salad, a toss of burnt broccoli, red chilies and cashews over a spice-cooling smear of creamy eggplant purée. 

Photograph: Courtesy Noah Fecks

6. Nicoise salad at Lafayette

Restaurants French Noho

The return of Andrew Carmellini—who many moons ago executed classics under Gray Kunz at Lespinasse— to French food at Lafayette was rightfully anticipated. The menu is suffused with all sorts of French classics you’ll want to eat, including a beautiful salade niçoise, updating the classic combination of tomatoes, olives, French green beans and anchovies with seared toro tuna.

High Street Hudson
Photograph: Courtesy High Street on Hudson

7. Grains salad at High Street on Hudson

Restaurants American West Village

Grains are at a premium at High Street—head baker Alex Bois’s astonishing loaves (potent New World ryes, hearty German-style vollkornbrot) obliterate the idea of bread as mere mealtime filler. Those ancient grains are pulled into a salad with roasted beets, smoked cloumage, puffed rice and a maple-mustard vinaigrette.  

Photograph: Courtesy Marcus Nilsson

8. Endive salad at Estela

Restaurants Contemporary American Nolita

The fashionably cookie-cutter decor—exposed brick, globe lights, hulking marble bar, you know the drill—suggests you’ve stumbled into another bustling rustic restaurant-cum-bar; they’re as ubiquitous now as Citi Bikes. Far less common are talents like Ignacio Mattos, who has reined in his modernist tendencies at Estela, with an ever-changing, mostly small-plates menu that pivots from avant-garde toward intimate, bridging the gap between space-age Isa and the homey Italian he used to cook at Il Buco. One such plate is his cool, crisp endive salad, featuring pale petals of endive tossed with walnuts, anchovy and Ubriaco Rosso cheese in a white-wine vinaigrette fragrant with orange zest.

Somtum Der
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

9. Papaya salad at Somtum Der

Restaurants Thai East Village
Som tum is the namesake dish of the eatery, a papaya salad made in several variations. Choose the Tum Thai Kai Kem ($11). It’s flecked with bits of soft-cooked, salted egg yolks, which provide a soothing counterpoint to the heat of the chilies. It hurts so good, so get it as spicy as you can stand. 
Photograph: Courtesy Jessica Nash

10. Asparagus cacio e pepe at Covina

Restaurants Mediterranean Flatiron

They’ve already tackled omakase sushi and rooftop cocktailing inside the Park South Hotel; now Boston-based couple Tim and Nancy Cushman (O Ya, the Roof at Park South) are getting into the pizza-and-pasta business with this 70-seat Mediterranean dining room. Here, he kitchen modifies a traditional Roman cacio e pepe by subbing out pasta for shaved asparagus in this fresh salad, tangled with Pecorino in a champagne vinaigrette.

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

11. Cobb salad at Sadelle’s

Restaurants American Soho

At the front of the brick-walled, three-tiered dining room, you’ll find a takeout deli and bakery turning out Ashkenazic curios like whorled poppy-seed rugelach ($2) and chunky whitefish salad ($10 per half pound), but the sit-down area boasts a more extensive menu, with salad bowls (Waldorf $22, Cobb $22) with ingredients arranged in precise, Instagram-ready columns.

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Sushi Sasabune
Photograph: Filip Wolak

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