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.
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Best salads in NYC
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Looking for something more exotic?
With it’s rich, red-sauced Italian heritage, New York is one of the only cities that can boast representation of Italy's many diverse regions, from Roman fare at Maialino to Sicilian specialties at Sessanta Ristorante. Now the team behind Chelsea's Eolo brings you a 130-seat shrine to the paradisiacal Isle of Capri, trimmed with blue-and-white accents, ceramic tiles and photos of 1960s icons Jackie Onassis and Valentino strolling the island's cobbled streets. The menu skews toward seafood-heavy fare such as salmon baked in a potato crust and a grigliata di pesce, with grilled shrimp, calamari and a half lobster over pasta. Along with the pesce, the menu features brick-oven pizzas, large-meat offerings like a grilled veal chop with rosemary potatoes and traditional Italian cocktails spiked with Campari and limoncello.
Venue says: “Whether celebrating a special occasion with family or friends or hosting a corporate event, Capri can accommodate your needs! 212-625-2626”