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Salad with vegan feta and radishes surround by leaves
Moditerranean at Salad to-go-go
Kelly Bone

Where to Get Satisfying Salads in San Diego

It’s always salad season in San Diego

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Moditerranean at Salad to-go-go
| Kelly Bone

Salads are a celebration of freshness, and in San Diego, the pristine produce featured is often locally sourced from neighborhood farmers markets or delivered directly from farms to restaurant kitchens. From creative and complex plates of crisp, leafy greens to warm roasted vegetables with add-ins like grains or proteins, here are 20 restaurants with salad-making skills that go beyond boring.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

Note: entries on this map are listed geographically.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Choice Juicery

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With COVD-19 friendly grab-and-go options (you can order ahead online to ensure they have what you want), Choice Superfood is a smart choice for salads and organic juice. The Macho Taco Salad comes with walnut “taco meat,” bell pepper, red cabbage, cilantro, and chipotle cashew dressing while the Coconut “Bakon” Cobb offers avocado, marinated hearts of palm, and quinoa with ranch.

Mendocino Farms

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Recently-rebranded, with an updated store design among its new features, the chain with five locations in the San Diego area and another coming to Encinitas is know for menu staples like the Impossible Taco Salad, a customer favorite with savory plant-based chorizo and succotash drizzled with a smoky vegan chipotle ranch. The Mama Chen’s Chinese Chicken Salad is built on a base of crunchy Napa cabbage and kale slaw with bean sprouts, baby spinach, toasted cashews, and wontons in a miso mustard sesame dressing (it’s free to sub avocado for chicken). The current seasonal menu offers Thai flavors, including a Thai mango salad with shaved, roasted chicken breast, ramen noodles, Napa cabbage and kale slaw, sliced mango, honey roasted almonds, pickled daikon and carrots, scallions, Thai basil, mint, cilantro, lime, and fried shallots with Thai almond dressing.

Dressing drizzled over Impossible taco meat.
Impossible Taco Salad
Mendocino Farms / Facebook

Urban Plates

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With three locations in San Diego, this regional chain offers a large array of entrees, sandwiches, and of course salads. Grab a spot in line (in person or online) and grab favorites like Mixed Beets with roasted tomatoes, jicama, walnuts, help seeds, and goat cheese tossed in a preserved lemon vinaigrette.

Beet salad.
Urban Plates
Justin Galloway

Lotus Cafe & Juice Bar

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In the historic core of Encinitas, Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar serves primarily vegetarian dishes including many wholesome salads. Many ingredients at Lotus are organic, like the leafy base of the Soulful Salad that comes topped with carrots, red onions, jicama, red cabbage, radish, tomato, and organic sunflower sprouts with creamy dill dressing and optional add-on proteins like tuna, tempeh, and tofu. 

Leafy green and quinoa salad.
Quinoa Veggie Salad
Lotus Cafe & Juice Bar / Facebook

Burma Place

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This new restaurant, whose chef previously worked at an acclaimed Burmese restaurant in San Francisco, offers their version of Burmese Tea Leaf Salad. Tossed with a fermented green tea leaf dressing, the salad includes crisp romaine, fried yellow split peas, sesame and sunflower seeds, peanuts, tomatoes, jalapenos, and crushed dried shrimp. Or, try their delectable Samosa Salad with curried potato bites over cabbage, cucumber, mint, and cilantro with pea powder and a tart tamarind dressing.

The Greenspot Salad Company

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If you work in an office near a Greenspot Salad Company you likely know the joy of seeing their boxes arrive for a catered lunch. Their never-boring salads include the Roasted Veggie with red peppers, grilled zucchini, and balsamic roasted mushroom and the Superfood with baby spinach, kale, broccoli, roasted sweet potato, quinoa, and avocado, tossed in a lemon dressing.

The Greenspot Salad Company
Courtesy Photo

Parakeet Cafe

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Popping up all over San Diego, Parakeet Cafe offers a creative menu including many salads. The Raw Kale Salad is a crowd favorite with red onion, arugula, watercress, heirloom tomatoes, grapefruit and hemp seeds in a lemon basil dressing. The Farro Salad with roasted yams, shaved fennel, toasted almonds, and Fuji apples in a Dijon mustard vinaigrette is a filling choice as well. 

Kale and grapefruit salad.
Raw Kale Salad
@EatMeScout

Head Lettuce

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This University City shop offers customized chopped salads like the Green Goddess with avocado, edamame, quinoa, spiced pepitas in a green goddess dressing and the Miso Ginger Crunch with shredded carrots, scallions, bean sprouts and crunchy ramen noodles and optional add-ons like grilled chicken. 

Two salads.
Double Salad
Head Lettuce/ Facebook

Mary's Gourmet Salads

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This charming shop perched on La Jolla’s Pearl Street offers build your own salads or an extensive list of house-designed bowls from the Super Food salad with avocado, roasted sweet potatoes, pomegranates, goji berries, and quinoa to the Chinese Chop with snow peas, red pepper, mandarins, crunchy chow mein noodles in miso ginger dressing with optional proteins like turkey, tofu, and hard-boiled egg. 

Salad in front of a VW bus.
Mary’s Gourmet Salads
Courtesy Photo

Gourmet Island

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Tucked into a business park on Ruffin Road, this cafe is for more than just office workers. For 20-plus years the Nasser family has served fast and fresh meals, including a long list of salads. Grab a seat on their open-air patio and enjoy leafy greens like the Fatuous with cucumbers, sumac and proteins such as chicken, mixed beans, or tofu. Daily specials bring out treats like roasted beets with candied walnuts, sun dried tomatoes and arugula.

Roasted beet salad.
Gourmet Island Bistro
Kelly Bone

Our Green Affair

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Build your own fresh meal here or choose one of their cheekily-named bowls and salads. Favorites include Hummus Where The Heart Is with cucumbers, sun-dried tomatoes, quinoa and kale with a cilantro tahini dressing or the Thai Me Up with roasted chicken or tofu over greens with chayote, mango, and Japanese peanuts in a spicy cashew dressing.

Bean and Avocado salad.
Bean There Done That
Kelly Bone

Crafted Greens

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This East County establishment offers an organic menu of sandwiches, platters, and of course salads. Choose a base salad like the Guacamole Greens with corn, black beans, avocado, tomatoes, grilled onions, white cheddar or vegan cheese, and crispy tortilla strips in a lime cilantro vinaigrette and enjoy as-is or with an added protein.

Guacamole Greens salad.
Guacamole Greens
Crafted Greens / Facebook

Grater Greens

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Mission Valley’s Grater Greens offers build-your-own salads or choose one of their featured creations. Choices include the Kale Couscous Salad with cabbage, couscous pilaf, avocado, roasted cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, and stewed black beans in a champagne vinaigrette and the Apple Cranberry with spinach, shaved red onion, and candied pecans in an apple cider vinaigrette.

Soup and salad.
Build Your Own Salad
Grater Greens / Facebook

Loving Hut

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Loving Hut lost no abundance when translating their Heavenly Salad to takeout. The clear clam shell bursts with shredded cabbage, carrots, onions, and bell pepper with thin strips of fried tofu and soy protein, a handful of Vietnamese mints (like pepper and fish mint), and crushed peanuts with tamarind-spiced sweet and sour dressing. 

Large mound of cabbage salad.
Loving Hut
Kelly Bone

SALAD to-go-go

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Part of Mo’s family of restaurants, Salads a Go-go offers healthy daytime options in the heart of Hillcrest. Enjoy filling bowls like the Warm Mushroom & Tofu Salad with ginger sesame tofu and mushroom over spinach, radicchio, frisée and watercress with toasted almonds or the Moditerranean with kalamata olives, crumbled feta (dairy or vegan), pickled red onions, cherry tomatoes, garlic roasted chickpeas, green beans, shaved radish and fennel with sunflower sprouts tossed in red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Moody strawberry salad.
Slice of Heaven at Salad to-go-go
Kelly Bone

Tribute Pizza

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Nothing makes it to Tribute Pizza’s menu without being perfect. Every pizza, every appetizer, and every salad deserves individual acclaim. The seemingly—simple Elaine Benes Little Big Salad, with heirloom tomatoes, veggies, and marinated garbanzo beans in a bright red wine vinaigrette, reveals why its namesake character made a scene over these greens. The “betrayal of caesar by the coward brutus, or, et tu brute” has been a favorite from the start with fancy kale (or grilled romaine depending on what the season gives) spotted with Calabrian chilies and a garlicky dressing finished with wood-fired focaccia croutons.

Leafy green salad with croutons
betrayal of caesar by the coward brutus, or, et tu brute
Kelly Bone

Donna Jean

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Seasonally driven, the kitchen at Donna Jean plays with vegetables throughout the vegan menu. Featured salads include a Caesar with sea beans, romaine, croutons, and Scratch House vegan parmesan.

Artful apple and greens salad.
Donna Jean
Kelly Bone

Tender Greens

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This widely-popular fast-casual chain with several area locations is known for its well-built salads. A selection of proteins come plated with simple salads like butter lettuce with chives and a tarragon dressing or kale with parmesan and roasted garlic vinaigrette or bypass the meat altogether and get lemon-dressed greens nestled between farro with tart dried cranberries, green hummus, and a nutty tabbouleh in the Happy Vegan salad.

Cafe Gratitude San Diego

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Café Gratitude San Diego’s ‘I AM Enchanting’ is the ideal dish for a healthy start to the new year. It is a delicious array of mustard marinated kale with tarragon, dill, avocado cream, an maple-toasted seeds. Other faves include the Kale and Sea Vegetable salad and Little Gems Caesar.

Endive and vegan cheese salad.
Cafe Gratitude San Diego
Kelly Bone

Pokez Mexican Restaurant

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At this longstanding downtown staple, no meal is complete without a colorful scoop of the house Cabbage Salad. Chunky green and red cabbage comes laced with shaved carrots and curls of white onions steeped in a light marinate. 

Cabbage Salad.
Pokez
Kelly Bone

Choice Juicery

With COVD-19 friendly grab-and-go options (you can order ahead online to ensure they have what you want), Choice Superfood is a smart choice for salads and organic juice. The Macho Taco Salad comes with walnut “taco meat,” bell pepper, red cabbage, cilantro, and chipotle cashew dressing while the Coconut “Bakon” Cobb offers avocado, marinated hearts of palm, and quinoa with ranch.

Mendocino Farms

Dressing drizzled over Impossible taco meat.
Impossible Taco Salad
Mendocino Farms / Facebook

Recently-rebranded, with an updated store design among its new features, the chain with five locations in the San Diego area and another coming to Encinitas is know for menu staples like the Impossible Taco Salad, a customer favorite with savory plant-based chorizo and succotash drizzled with a smoky vegan chipotle ranch. The Mama Chen’s Chinese Chicken Salad is built on a base of crunchy Napa cabbage and kale slaw with bean sprouts, baby spinach, toasted cashews, and wontons in a miso mustard sesame dressing (it’s free to sub avocado for chicken). The current seasonal menu offers Thai flavors, including a Thai mango salad with shaved, roasted chicken breast, ramen noodles, Napa cabbage and kale slaw, sliced mango, honey roasted almonds, pickled daikon and carrots, scallions, Thai basil, mint, cilantro, lime, and fried shallots with Thai almond dressing.

Dressing drizzled over Impossible taco meat.
Impossible Taco Salad
Mendocino Farms / Facebook

Urban Plates

Beet salad.
Urban Plates
Justin Galloway

With three locations in San Diego, this regional chain offers a large array of entrees, sandwiches, and of course salads. Grab a spot in line (in person or online) and grab favorites like Mixed Beets with roasted tomatoes, jicama, walnuts, help seeds, and goat cheese tossed in a preserved lemon vinaigrette.

Beet salad.
Urban Plates
Justin Galloway

Lotus Cafe & Juice Bar

Leafy green and quinoa salad.
Quinoa Veggie Salad
Lotus Cafe & Juice Bar / Facebook

In the historic core of Encinitas, Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar serves primarily vegetarian dishes including many wholesome salads. Many ingredients at Lotus are organic, like the leafy base of the Soulful Salad that comes topped with carrots, red onions, jicama, red cabbage, radish, tomato, and organic sunflower sprouts with creamy dill dressing and optional add-on proteins like tuna, tempeh, and tofu. 

Leafy green and quinoa salad.
Quinoa Veggie Salad
Lotus Cafe & Juice Bar / Facebook

Burma Place

This new restaurant, whose chef previously worked at an acclaimed Burmese restaurant in San Francisco, offers their version of Burmese Tea Leaf Salad. Tossed with a fermented green tea leaf dressing, the salad includes crisp romaine, fried yellow split peas, sesame and sunflower seeds, peanuts, tomatoes, jalapenos, and crushed dried shrimp. Or, try their delectable Samosa Salad with curried potato bites over cabbage, cucumber, mint, and cilantro with pea powder and a tart tamarind dressing.

The Greenspot Salad Company

The Greenspot Salad Company
Courtesy Photo

If you work in an office near a Greenspot Salad Company you likely know the joy of seeing their boxes arrive for a catered lunch. Their never-boring salads include the Roasted Veggie with red peppers, grilled zucchini, and balsamic roasted mushroom and the Superfood with baby spinach, kale, broccoli, roasted sweet potato, quinoa, and avocado, tossed in a lemon dressing.

The Greenspot Salad Company
Courtesy Photo

Parakeet Cafe

Kale and grapefruit salad.
Raw Kale Salad
@EatMeScout

Popping up all over San Diego, Parakeet Cafe offers a creative menu including many salads. The Raw Kale Salad is a crowd favorite with red onion, arugula, watercress, heirloom tomatoes, grapefruit and hemp seeds in a lemon basil dressing. The Farro Salad with roasted yams, shaved fennel, toasted almonds, and Fuji apples in a Dijon mustard vinaigrette is a filling choice as well. 

Kale and grapefruit salad.
Raw Kale Salad
@EatMeScout

Head Lettuce

Two salads.
Double Salad
Head Lettuce/ Facebook

This University City shop offers customized chopped salads like the Green Goddess with avocado, edamame, quinoa, spiced pepitas in a green goddess dressing and the Miso Ginger Crunch with shredded carrots, scallions, bean sprouts and crunchy ramen noodles and optional add-ons like grilled chicken. 

Two salads.
Double Salad
Head Lettuce/ Facebook

Mary's Gourmet Salads

Salad in front of a VW bus.
Mary’s Gourmet Salads
Courtesy Photo

This charming shop perched on La Jolla’s Pearl Street offers build your own salads or an extensive list of house-designed bowls from the Super Food salad with avocado, roasted sweet potatoes, pomegranates, goji berries, and quinoa to the Chinese Chop with snow peas, red pepper, mandarins, crunchy chow mein noodles in miso ginger dressing with optional proteins like turkey, tofu, and hard-boiled egg. 

Salad in front of a VW bus.
Mary’s Gourmet Salads
Courtesy Photo

Gourmet Island

Roasted beet salad.
Gourmet Island Bistro
Kelly Bone

Tucked into a business park on Ruffin Road, this cafe is for more than just office workers. For 20-plus years the Nasser family has served fast and fresh meals, including a long list of salads. Grab a seat on their open-air patio and enjoy leafy greens like the Fatuous with cucumbers, sumac and proteins such as chicken, mixed beans, or tofu. Daily specials bring out treats like roasted beets with candied walnuts, sun dried tomatoes and arugula.

Roasted beet salad.
Gourmet Island Bistro
Kelly Bone

Our Green Affair