Salads are the best way to go if you're looking for a refreshing dish to enjoy during hot weather or would like to include more veggies in your meals. However, even though salads are tasty and a great way to eat more greens, they can sometimes be a pain to make at home from scratch—some require harder-to-find ingredients, while others may involve a ton of chopping, slicing, and dicing. Thankfully, there are plenty of restaurant chains out there that whip up delicious salads that hit the spot.
Although salads may not be the first thing you think to order when dining out (we imagine that tasty steak and chicken dishes might be your first priority), many restaurant chains prepare out-of-this-world salads that you simply cannot miss. Even better? Many spots make salads with premium mouth-watering ingredients, like blue cheese, grilled salmon, crispy bacon, organic greens, fresh, chopped veggies, wood-grilled shrimp, and so much more. There are even some salads that incorporate items like perfectly cooked steak, so you can still get your steak fix while dining out.
From restaurant salads that are so loved that people try to make copycat recipes at home, to others that are more unexpected and embrace a range of fruits, cheeses, and nuts, here are the restaurant chains that serve the best salads.
Fresh ingredients, tasty combinations, hearty servings—First Watch checks all the boxes when it comes to salads. The popular restaurant chain, found in 29 states, has options like the Superfood Kale Salad, made with nutrient-packed kale, organic mixed greens, all-natural chicken breast, and maple-lemon vinaigrette. There's also the Sweet Honey Pecan Salad, which has juicy tomatoes, cheddar and Monterey Jack, and crisp bacon. What's more, each salad order comes with a side of artisanal ciabatta bread, so you can still indulge a bit.
The Capital Grille
You can expect premium ingredients when you order a salad from Capital Grille, an upscale steakhouse chain known for its perfectly-prepared steaks and delicious sides. Some of its standout salads include the Maine Lobster Salad, which is made with Maine chilled lobster, arugula, and avocado dressed in a citrus vinaigrette, and the Seared Salmon Salad tossed with avocado, mango, and tomatoes. For a lighter dish, go for the Shaved Brussel Sprouts Salad or the Fields Good Salad, a delicate mix of butter leaf lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, and a zesty Parmesan vinaigrette.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
The famous steakhouse doesn't just serve great steaks but top-notch salads too. Founded in 1965 by Ruth Fertel, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse is the place to visit if you're in the mood for high-quality salads prepared with gourmet ingredients. You can expect options like Harvest Salad, which has goat cheese and Cajun pecans, and a traditional Caesar Salad packed with shaved Parmesan and Romano cheese. The best part? All the dressings are made fresh in house using exclusive recipes.
A fan favorite is the Ruth Chop Salad, which has inspired many a copycat recipe on the internet. It's made with Iceberg lettuce, radicchio, mushrooms, green olives, bacon, eggs, blue cheese, and croutons drizzled with lemon basil dressing and garnished with crispy onions. It's the perfect dish to enjoy with a juicy ribeye or fish dish.
Probably one of the best chains to stop at during long car rides or road trips, Cracker Barrel has plenty of delicious salads that can keep you full without overeating. These dishes are made with fresh, hearty ingredients that not only taste good but are also innovative. For example, there's the Homestyle Fried Chicken Salad, which is made with golden-fried Sunday Homestyle chicken, crisp greens, boiled eggs, cucumbers, and Colby cheese. Then there's the House Salad which bacon lovers need to try—this pick is loaded with thick-sliced bacon and sourdough croutons.
Started in 1969, Cracker Barrel has been an American classic for the last 50-plus years. It currently has 600 locations throughout the United States.
Red Robin, which started as a small tavern in a Seattle college party town over 80 years ago, has grown into a beloved restaurant chain with over 540 locations throughout 44 states.
It currently has several different salad options made with tasty, fresh ingredients like hardwood-smoked bacon, fresh avocado, fried jalapeno coins, and more. If you love Cobb salads, try the Avo-Cobb-O Salad, which is piled high with grilled chicken breast, creamy avocado, blue cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and tomatoes. If you want something with a little kick, order the Southwest Salad with Ancho-grilled chicken breast, corn, shredded cheddar, zesty lime, and crispy tortilla chips. Red Robin also serves a great side salad if you want something more pared down.
The Cheesecake Factory
Contrary to what its name might suggest, The Cheesecake Factory is an excellent place to eat a salad. The beloved eatery, founded in Beverly Hills in the 1940s, has a long list of salads on its menu, including the California Chopped Salad, the Factory Chopped Salad, and the Vegan Cobb Salad.
The California Chopped Salad is a good fit if you like shellfish—it's bursting with shrimp and features tomatoes, green beans, and crisp bacon. If you enjoy salads that have it all, go for the Factory Chopped Salad, which boasts a mouth-watering combination of grilled chicken, tomatoes, avocado, blue cheese, and chopped apples. And for those looking for a fiber-rich dish that doesn't skimp on taste, the Vegan Cobb Salad is the way to go—it's brimming with grilled asparagus, crispy lettuce, farro, quinoa, almonds, and beans.
Fabulous pasta dishes, lip-smackingly good signature cocktails, and plenty of salads that will dazzle you—you can find it all at Carrabba's. Known as the chain to go to if you're in the mood for Italian-American dishes that are tasty and filling, the popular spot also offers several high-quality salads that can help round out any meal.
For instance, there's the Johnny Rocco Salad, a packed bowl of greens topped with wood-grilled shrimp, sea scallops, roasted red peppers, ricotta salata, and more. Then there's the Caesar salad, which people rave about, served with wood-grilled chicken or shrimp, Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and croutons. The chain also does a pretty good Italian Salad that showcases flavorful ingredients like kalamata olives, chopped garden vegetables, your choice of chicken or shrimp, and Italian dressing.
Texas Roadhouse, the famous steakhouse chain known for its hand-cut steaks and mouth-weathering sides, is an excellent choice if you're looking for fresh and tasty salads that use hearty ingredients, like grilled chicken, steak filets, and crispy chicken. For starters, there's the Grilled Salmon Salad, that's made with crisp, cold greens, grilled salmon, jack cheese, and bacon, and the Steakhouse Filet Salad, which features tender steak strips, blue cheese, red onions, croutons, and a drizzle of Italian dressing,
Founded in Indiana 30 years ago, the popular restaurant has over 600 locations worldwide. Besides its tasty salads, it also has some pretty good full-slab ribs, creamy mashed potatoes, and tangy fried pickles, so be sure to add these to your order while you're there.