4 Filling Restaurant Salads Full of Flavor

Beet Salad with Salmon at Django.

Writer: Karla Walsh
Photographer: Duane Tinkey

If you think all salads are either starters before a meat and potatoes meal or simply “rabbit food,” here are main dish salads to convince you otherwise.

Salads are one of the best ways to sneak more produce into your diet. And that’s something a growing number of us are aiming to do to offset some of our animal product consumption. Case in point: One of Whole Foods Market’s top 10 food trends of 2022 is “reducetarianism,” which describes those who aren’t quite vegan or even vegetarian, but who focus on eating less meat, dairy and eggs, mainly for environmental reasons.

Regardless of the reason, if you’re looking to turn over a new leaf, order any or all of my four current favorite filling and flavorful salads.

Beet Salad with Salmon at Django
With a little peppery arugula and a lot of hearty roasted multicolored beets, this is more like a ridiculously filling side dish than a salad—especially when you get a forkful that includes salty goat cheese crumbles, tangy pickled onion and crunchy sunflower seeds. Add a filet of crispy seared salmon for a well-balanced meal that will keep you satisfied for hours. ($15.99 for a regular, $22.49 for a large)

Greek Salad at Gateway Market
Speaking of staying power, Django’s fast-casual sibling is home to several sizable and stellar salads, too. This leafy option is 100% vegetarian—and vegan without the feta—and comes fully loaded with cilantro tabbouleh, cucumber, onion, tomato, Kalamata olives, feta, roasted garlic vinaigrette, plus a generous scoop of red pepper hummus and a few toasted pita wedges to help scoop it all up. ($10.99 for a regular, $14.49 for a large)

Chicken Shawarma Salad at Gazali’s
Across the metro at their new location on the west end of Clive, the spice is right at this Mediterranean cafe. Warm, peppery and mildly spicy at once, their shawarma chicken steals the show in this colorful salad. Underneath, you’ll find a bed of mixed greens, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, pickles (don’t knock it till you try it!), Kalamata olives and feta. Add one of their fluffy pitas on the side and prepare to transport your taste buds to the Mediterranean. ($17)

Fresko Salad at Fresko
Zippy and full of spring flavors (although available year-round at this downtown restaurant), Fresko’s namesake salad is a feast for the eyes and the palate. A mix of artisan lettuce leaves joins forces with fresh berries, red onion, orange segments, goat cheese, sunflower seeds and red wine vinaigrette. Up the ante by topping it with chicken, shrimp, salmon, steak, tuna or scallops. ($13)

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