Austin’s Best Summer Salads

Reduce the sweat; increase the greens

With temperatures staying in the upper nineties all week, this is no time to get ambitious in the kitchen. Even when eating out, the idea of someone else turning on the stove in a packed restaurant kitchen is enough to give us sympathy sweats. The solution, of course, is salad.

Thai Chop Chop salad at The Peached Tortilla (Photo by Inked Fingers)

Packed with hydrating greens and other water-filled growing things, salad is light enough to feel virtuous, and refreshing enough to trick you into eating a little protein.

With a big glass of iced Topo Chico on the side, there’s no better way to channel your inner lady who lunches. And ladies who lunch don’t have sweat stain problems, right? Find out the easy way with some of our favorite substantial salads for summer snacking.

Thai Chop Chop Salad at The Peached Tortilla

Cabbage is truly the unsung hero of the summertime salad, packed with nutrients, fiber, and a delightfully refreshing crunch. At the Peached Tortilla they make you forget the regrettably limp coleslaws of your youth by dressing up chopped Napa cabbage with green apple, crunchy fried shallots, fish sauce caramel, bundles of herbs, and fried tofu for substance, tossed in a savory Thai vinaigrette.

Green Goddess Salad at Boiler Nine Bar + Grill

Because everything 1970s is new again, green goddess salads seem to be everywhere nowadays. We’re particular fans of the substantial version they turn out at Boiler Nine, a refreshingly crunchy mix of iceberg lettuce, arugula, and kale, topped with cucumber, avocado, almonds, and locally produced feta cheese.

Fruit 'n' Root at Austin Daily Press

While sandwiches are the big draw at Daily Press, this local chain’s emphasis on strong flavors and unexpected ingredient pairings shines with the odd but inspired Fruit n’ Root salad. It’s a surprisingly addictive blend of crispy-edged grilled queso fresco tossed with mango, strawberry, pickled golden beets, and arugula, dressed with a refreshing lime vinaigrette.

Buttermilk Chicken Salad at Jack Allen's Kitchen (Photo by Kenny Braun)

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Salad at Jack Allen's Kitchen

Just because you’re eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to turn your back on the beauties of buttermilk fried chicken. Here, it’s served with more green goddess dressing (of course), plus mixed greens, sweet Granny Smith apple slices, bleu cheese crumbles, and spicy roasted walnuts.

Salmon and Kale Salad at Épicerie

The ultimate in demure lunch spots, you can count on Épicerie to kick that classic kale salad up a notch with a continental approach to the much beleaguered green. Their version of the crunchy classic includes roasted salmon, French lentils, avocado, and apple, topped off with silky cashew cream.

Watermelon Salad at Cookbook Bar & Cafe

There’s nothing more refreshing in the summer sun than a big ol’ slice of watermelon, and the geniuses at Cookbook have tracked down a recipe for a salad that takes our favorite fruit in an unexpected direction, with pickled shrimp and a spicy jalapeno vinaigrette. Like what you taste? Check out the cookbook it came from (Heritage by Sean Brock) and re-create it at home.

Barranco Salad at Killa Wasi

Let’s get the bad news out of the way: There’s no air-conditioning at this impossibly cute outside seating-only Peruvian food bus. BUT the Barranco Salad – a saucy mix of farm tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and quinoa topped with aji amarillo vinaigrette – is almost refreshing enough to make up for it, especially with an ice cold glass of chicha morada on the side.

Panzanella salad at Easy Tiger (Courtesy of Easy Tiger)

Panzanella at Odd Duck & Easy Tiger

Panzanella has to be the perfect summer food. When else do you get to eat a big bowl of bread and call it a salad? At Odd Duck, it’s dressed up for the Texas heat with heirloom tomatoes, roasted corn, shishito peppers, jalapeño chevre, and crispy sunflower seeds. At Easy Tiger, it’s their specialty seasoned bread with tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, basil, and a fresh tomato vinaigrette.

Giant Fruit Salad Cup at Hay Elotes

A fruit salad is still a salad, and the rendition they serve at Hay Elotes – tropical fruit cut into munchable spears with chili and lime to be squeezed over the top – is one of the best in town. Or just go straight to the source and get a big mangonada, wrapped in sour ribbon candy. Hey, technically, it has strawberries on top!

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