I started WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) on May 18th, 2020 and now I'm dying to eat everything unhealthy. I worked with WW when the Oprah 2020 Vision Tour was coming through town to showcase restaurants that offer WW friendly meal options like Sushi Den, Cherry Cricket, Olive & Finch, and more. You can see the whole list here. They don't recommend living off salads and have supplied a great list of non-salad options.
However, here I am looking for the best salads in Denver and officially starting a list! I'm talking about hearty, filling salads that won't make you feel disappointed about skipping the burger or chicken and waffles.
THE BEST SALADS IN DENVER:
Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery (Denver: SoBo, Colfax, Lowery)
The staple on Chop Shop's menu is the Super Chop salad: baby kale, mixed greens, quinoa, adzuki beans, togarashi spiced pecans, egg, avocado, tomato, champagne vinaigrette. The small salad is perfect for 1 or get the regular size if you're really hungry. You can add a protein such as salmon or crispy tofu but if you're really feeling it, go for the crispy chicken. It's lightly breaded, full of crunch and juicy inside. Chop Shop has 3 other salads on their menu in addition to a ton of healthy sides (they're family/shareable sized).
Eating your greens has never been easier with 9 salads on the menu at Olive & Finch. The Caesar salad is a true anchovy salad and worth eating. They have a quinoa salad: quinoa, honey roasted carrots, dried cranberries, goat cheese, arugula, almonds & citrus herb vinaigrette; farro salad: kale, farro, carrots, chickpeas, feta cheese, grape tomatoes, golden raisins, granny smith apples, toasted sunflower seeds & apple cider vinaigrette; and my personal favorite, Mama Phams Salad: house roasted chicken breast, spinach, cabbage, onions, cilantro, carrots, bean sprouts, cucumbers, roasted peanuts with a sesame vinaigrette & sesame tuile.
Everyone knows the Kale & Apple salad at Acorn. They described it best on their Facebook:
"Our kale & apple salad has been on the menu since Acorn opened in 2013. Deceptively simple, it’s easily one of our most popular menu items, appearing on all three of our daily menus (lunch, mid-day, and dinner). The city of Denver raves about this salad, and for good reason— it’s crunchy, hearty, a little sweet, a little salty, a little sour: in short, there’s nothing not to like about it. The James Beard Foundation has us thinking about the massive problem of food waste in our industry, and what with us going through over 120 pounds of kale every month just for this one salad, our chefs have come up with an awesome zero waste kale system: the fresh leaves are used for the salad, and then we take the leftover stems and chop them up finely to ferment and use in other menu items! After a short fermentation, it ends up a little salty, a little funky, and a little earthy, but still with that delicious vegetal kale flavor that we all know and love."
Citizen Rail (LoDo)
The menu at Citizen Rail is well thought out and curated by seasonal produce. The one item that isn't a salad but worth eating is the From the Field appetizer: taro root chips, lemon hummus, beet relish, yogurt + herb dip, sunflower seed, sprouts, popped amaranth; If you're looking for a salad they have a variety of options like the Organic Butter Lettuce: pear, spring onion, blue cheese, candied black walnut, Mixed Greens Salad: dried pomegranate, strawberry, pistachio, haystack mountain goat cheese; or the Grilled Escarole Salad: black currant, hazelnut, hemp seed, yellow beet, aged sheep's milk cheese. If you dine during lunch and want a filling bowl go for the Harissa Tofu Bowl made with Israeli cous cous, carrot, Cauliflower, cashew, sesame seed or the Summer Vegetable Bowl: grilled squash, quinoa, corn, fresno jam, Cilantro-tahini lime dressing.
The Rio (Multiple Locations)
Every late summer, early Fall The Rio hosts Harvest Days. It's a celebration of our local produce with a special menu highlighting each item. The Watermelon Salad is my favorite. In 2019 they served it with pickled red onions, mixed greens and cotija cheese. The watermelon was so juicy that I skipped the dressing. The Rio serves great salads year round too. The classic Caesar Salad is served with avocado, pickled onion, grape tomatoes, cotija cheese. Add on the Cilantro-Lime Chicken, Portabella, Pan-Seared Fish, or Sautéed Shrimp for an additional charge. The other option is the Rio Salad: mixed greens, avocado, grape tomatoes, carrots, pepitas, cotija, and tortilla strips.
Earl's (LoDo and Park Meadows)
It's easy to eat healthy at Earl's because they offer power bowls and salads. The Quinoa and Avocado power bowl is made with roasted squash, beets, green goddess dressing, toasted pumpkin seeds, and crispy chickpeas. You can add salmon, chicken or shrimp for an additional price. The blackened chicken is delicious on the Santa Fe salad: a crispy bed of mixed greens, black beans, creamy feta, corn, avocado, and grilled Cajun chicken breast, tossed in a house-made peanut lime vinaigrette. The salads are large and can be taken home for a second helping later.
HomeGrown Tap and Dough (Platt Park and Arvada)
The menu is large here covering pizzas to pastas and burgers. HomeGrown Tap and Dough offers 5 salads. The Quinoa: almonds, cucumber, avocado, apples, golden raisins and arugula is tossed in a lemon vinaigrette, or the Roasted Beet with toasted hazelnuts, grapefruit, goat cheese, and arugula tosses in a red wine vinaigrette. The other options are the Classic Caesar, Arugula, and Shaved Brussel Sprout.
Just BE Kitchen (LoDo)
Everything at Just BE Kitchen is fair game. The focus of their menu is to offer paleo, keto, gluten free, whole 30, and vegan/vegetarian options for everyone. They don't cut corners on anything and all their meals are nourishing. The menu offers salads to bowls that will cure any craving. The current seasonal salad is the Enchanted made with arugula, pickled red onion, roasted beets, grainless granola, and almond feta tossed in a roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette. The Desired is a Chicken Caesar salad and the other option. I highly recommend the Glow, a deconstructed egg roll: cabbage, carrot, pork, coconut aminos teriyaki, spicy aioli, sesame, and wonton crips.
FNG (West Highland)
Eating healthy for brunch, lunch or dinner? Then F&G has you covered for anytime of the day. They offer side salads as an option for a side but go all in with the Carrot & Avocado Salad made with mixed greens, radish, cucumber, avocado, and roasted carrots topped with a chia, sunflower and flax seed blend. Served with our FNG citrus dressing on the side. They also make a fresh Cedar Plank Salmon served with a side of grilled broccoli and roasted sweet potatoes. Healthy eating with all the flavor.
Blue Pan Pizza (Highland and Congress Park)
For a pizza place, the salad menu at Blue Pan is pretty extensive. My first favorite is the Antipasto: mixed lettuce, Genoa salami, Calabrase salami, sopressata, brick cheese, cucumbers, red onion, cherry tomatoes, banana peppers, chickpeas, Sicilian oregano, and croutons tossed in a house made vinaigrette; and my second is the Arugula tossed in a house made balsamic vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and shaved Parmesan Reggiano. The other options are the House, Caesar Salad, Greek or Magnolia: romaine lettuce tossed in the house made balsamic vinaigrette, choice of Gorgonzola or goat cheese, candied walnuts, and granny smith apple slices.
Modern Market (Multiple Locations)
Modern Market is great for the health conscious eater. They offer 8 salads on their menu as well as grain bowls and hand-carved bowls. The Buddha (grain) bowl is my favorite: sesame glazed tofu, warm heirloom rice, spicy roasted broccoli, carrot, citrus cabbage slaw, peanut, cilantro, peanut mango sauce. I order it with salmon sometimes instead of the tofu.
Newk's Eatery (Arvada or DTC)
Each to-go salad can serve 2 people or be 2 meals. They are massive. I thought it was a fluke but I have tried different salads on different days and they're packed with ingredients into that little plastic container. I recommend The Ultimate: all-natural chicken, bacon, ham, turkey, mixed greens, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, cheddar, house-made croutons; or the Newk's Favorite: all-natural chicken, mixed greens, Gorgonzola, grapes, pecans, artichoke hearts, dried cranberries, house-made croutons.
MAD Greens (Multiple locations)
This wouldn't be a true salad list without the best quick serve restaurant: MAD Greens. They are salad assembly line type of restaurant (similar to Illegal Pete's) but for salads! Watch them whip up the best salad for you. You can customize your own or opt for one of their menu salads. The names are clever like the Ty Cobb with the acronym EAT COBB to a T for the ingredients: eggs, avocado, tomato, chicken, onion, bacon, and blue cheese. They have 10 salads with a seasonal 11th salad to order from. If you aren't wanting the greens, the Grain Bowls are an excellent healthy option.
Noodles and Company (Multiple Locations)
Hands down, my go to order is the Med Salad: romaine, mixed greens, tomato, cucumbers, red onion, olives, cavatappi pasta, spicy yogurt dressing. I remove the red onions and swap the pasta for zoodles!
To say there isn't a good salad nearby is a statement to never be heard when in Denver! We have the best selection of salads. Eat your greens and enjoy your nourishing options.