salad on white ceramic bowl on top of table near laptop
Here are a list of the perfect choices for that midday salad pick me up. Photo by Nielsen Ramon

DAOFitLife Hot List: Healthiest summer salad chains

It’s almost noon, and you are hungry? What are you going to get when it’s north of 80 degrees and climbing? A SALAD! And I have the perfect recommendations on what chains are the healthiest and how to order healthy so you can slide into the pool later.

  • Sweetgreen – A staple in DC and many cities on the east coast, you can get fresh kale, blackened chicken, and seasonal favorites. Also has cauliflower rice as a sub for grains and really nice pearl black lentils. Sweetgreens is now on the West Coast too! Really taking over and for good reason, they have a really easy app that tallies up the calories as you order.
  • Cava – Sh’ug sauce is low cal and will spice up any bowl, plus there are a lot of other good middle eastern toppings like eggplant. Roti is a similar brand that also has good Middle Eastern topping options.
  • Panera – Panera is more of an all around quick grab and go plance, but they do have healthy salads that you can also get in half portions if you are not as hungry or want to get it with a soup.
  • Honeygrow – this is all along the east cost primarily in the Pennsylvania area. I first tried this in Philly. It also has really great stir-fries if you want something hot and can order on a touch screen
  • Just salad – If you know NYC you know this one. Really fresh clean ingredients, generous sizes and tangy flavors.
  • Freshii – Freshii is actually Canadian but they have great smoothies and soups also

Honorable mentions: Tender Greens, Chop’t, Beefsteak, Chipoltle (for mexican-style salads)

How to order healthy salads

Notice I did not name a favorite bowl off of any menu. This is because I am a big believer in customizing to maximize the healthiness of the experience. Though salads are healthy as a general matter these pre-set menus can really come up with a lot of unnecessary toppings and calorie-laden dressings. Every place has an option to customize. Read my below salad primer on how to order the best options:

And in case you were wondering, here is my typical salad combo at Sweetgreen:

  • Blend of kale and arugula
  • Roasted sweet potato
  • Chicken or tofu
  • Spicy broccoli
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Goat cheese
  • Plain Balsamic vinegar dressing

If you want to make your own dressing or buy your own from the store to keep in the fridge and use on your salads, that is a great way to make sure you keep the calories down. So be sure to also read my post on salad dressings under 30 calories a serving, both DIY and store bought:

Leave a Reply