Salad

When I was little, we used to feed the family goats a strict diet of grass, failed cooking experiments, and fresh greens and vegetables. So, when Mom tried to give me a bowl of fresh greens and vegetables, I felt suspicious. Was I girl, or goat?! Since my mom was very fond of making salads, I spent a considerable amount of my childhood smuggling my roughage out to the goat pen in my napkin/pockets/shoes, but these days, now that I’m more mature, I see salad in a different light–taste sensation and savior of my thighs. Here are a few spots where you can find a salad so good you won’t even want to share it with your dining companions, much less your goats.

Canteen

canteenbowlsquareSimply breathing the fresh ginger and chlorophyll-scented air at this über-charming Sunnyside juice bar will make you a better person, so just wait until you’ve downed a Maca & Friends smoothie, apple and cashew-studded quinoa salad, maple tempeh-topped Portland bowl, and a slice of the shockingly good raw cheesecake. There’s also beer, wine, and kombucha on tap, plus a steady supply of impeccably-underdressed Southeast Portland hipsters of above-average attractiveness to impassively reject your overly enthusiastic E3Live-fueled advances. And for those who must get their 15 minutes of direct sunlight a day (when that’s possible), there’s a wide array of outdoor seating options, from log benches and bistro tables on the front patio to quiet two tops along the side of the building, plus a roomy covered all-weather patio.

Chez Machin

chezmachinsaladChez Machin most commonly comes to mind when one thinks of “Hawthorne” and “crepes” in the same mental sentence, but this sweet little bistro has plenty of other good things to eat, including some substantial salads. Being a bacon and egg lover myself, I’m fond of the Salade Lyonnaise–fresh greens tossed with bacon and homemade Dijon vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg, and classic Niçoise with rare yellowfin tuna, green beans, roasted red pepper, red potatoes, hard-boiled egg, tomatoes, kalamata olives, and the kitchen sink. Chez Machin is so cute that I never get my salade to go, I eat it there with a friend, or a newspaper, or just my thoughts, which are mostly about why the c in Niçoise has a goatee.

Garden Bar

gardenbarsaladbarGreens reign supreme at this tiny new tenant of the former Morso space just across from Powell’s Pearl District mothership, so if you had a little run-in last night with a double order of cronut bacon burgers or a bowl of deep-fried butter balls, you can eat your Hail Marys here in the guise of a Chicken Kale Caesar, Garden Chopped, quinoa and hemp seed stuffed Northwest Bowl, or a choose your own roughage medley, and wash it all down with a Portland Juice Press green juice, Brew Dr. kombucha or coconut water.

Harlow

harlowbettybowlEvery now and then, when I’ve had a rough stretch of deviled quail eggs, steak tartare, and pork belly sandwiches, I give my stomach a much-needed spa day at this Hawthorne haven, where you can cleanse your digestive system’s pipes with chlorophyll-laced lemonade, freshly-grated ginger tea, jalapeño and cilantro-spiced Shaman smoothies, vegetable-laden rice and quinoa-based bowls, and beautiful raw salads and pastas. Feel free to take your mini-herbivores along, there’s a kids menu with oatmeal walnut pancakes, a Littlest Dragon Bowl, mac ‘n cheese, and even a peanut butter and jelly smoothie. Read entire write-up>

Jade Teahouse

jadeteahousesquareJade is not the contemplative nest of tranquility that might come to mind when one thinks “teahouse.” It is an aesthetic win, blessed with copious amounts of natural lighting and a tidy bamboo-fringed patio, and it’s a lively meeting place for all manner of local folk—toned Lycra short pants-wearing patrons of the nearby Sellwood Yoga studio having heart-to-hearts over prawn and pork-stuffed lettuce rolls, Eastmoreland Ladies Who Lunch taking an exotic grilled tofu salad-fueled minibreak, and stay-at-home moms and dads sharing platefuls of stir-fried rice noodles with towheaded pixies in pink cowboys boots whose swinging feet don’t quite reach the floor. The great unifier? The bright green pandan-dyed Vietnamese wedding cake, one of the many delightful pastries you’ll find in the case on any given day, and a unique delicacy that goes very well with a pot of one of Jade’s beautifully-curated 70+ teas.

Lardo Eastside

lardoeastintsquareIf you’re going to stray from the caloric straight and narrow, you might as well do it right—and there are few more enjoyable failings than this super popular Ladd’s Addition hotspot’s pork belly sandwich—glistening, hot fat-streaked slabs of this most hallowed Portland mainstay laid to rest on a pillow-soft, golden-crusted Fleur de Lis Bakery brioche bun, or the bacon-topped cold fried chicken sandwich slathered in buttermilk blue cheese dressing, or the epic Double Burger, or the pork scrap and marinated peppers-littered “dirty fries,” or the three microbrews/ grapefruit margaritas you wash it all down with. No need to steer clear if you’re an herbivore either, the meat-free offerings and salads are some of the best around. Get your meal to go, or settle into a picnic table on the vast Hawthorne-fronting patio.

Laurelhurst Market

laurelhurstmarketextYou might be puzzled to find a steakhouse listed in the Salad section, but Laurelhurst Market offers up some of the finest salads in town—the duck confit and pickled strawberry salad was a revelation, the side of beets with pistachios and rhubarb gastrique was the best $5 I ever spent, and the Viridian Farms raspberries with blue cheese and mint almost made me wish the moon was made out of salad.

Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty

lovelysfiftyfiftysaladLovely’s Fifty Fifty owners (and sisters) Sarah and Jane Minnick have carved out this sweet, homey little nook along buzzy North Mississippi Avenue, creating a space that walks the line between modern and vintage, with high ceilings, massive wood beams, a huge roll-up glass garage door, and an eclectic collection of precisely-hung vintage prints lining the softly hued walls. Young hipster couples and families alike occupy the tables and booths, making for a lively neighborhood melting pot of top-notch vittles and people-watching, and the kitchen turns out all the trappings of a well-rounded diet–remarkable wood-fired pizzas, seasonal salads and small plates, creamy housemade ice creams, and very good wine.

Meat Cheese Bread

meatcheesebreadsaladsquareMeat Cheese Bread is probably already one of your favorite spots to get a sandwich, but it should also be on your list of salad destinations too. Not just because the of their crisply delicious Blue Green salad–green leaf lettuce with big fat lardons of bacon, slivered apples, and creamy blue cheese dressing, or their flank steak salad with roasted beets and buttermilk-chive dressing, but because you can ask for any one of their hot or cold sandwiches to be transformed into a salad too. Think tarragon-fennel chicken salad with lettuce and avocado, farm fresh green beans with soft boiled egg and parmesan, and roasted mushrooms with goat cheese, sherry onions and frisee. As sacrilegious as this sounds, you’ll never miss the bread.

Mother’s Bistro

mothersextsquareThis popular downtown bistro is best known as a bastion of comfort food, but sometimes comfort food is food that allows you to leave the table without having to furtively unzip your pants after an unfortunate meatloaf overdose. Hence, when I’m craving healthy and hearty, I order the grilled salmon Caesar, the Greek salad and hummus combo, or maybe the zesty Mexican Chop with grilled chicken, avocado, and cotija cheese in a honey-lime vinaigrette. I’m able to finish my lunch without impromptu trouser alterations, I get a cookie at the end of my meal as is Mother’s custom (this Mother anyway, my mother never rewarded salad consumption with a cookie), and all is good.

Oven & Shaker

ovenandshakerJames Beard-award nominated chef Cathy Whims (Nostrana, Genoa) and Aviation Gin co-founder Ryan Magarian joined their culinarily complimentary forces to open this sleek Pearl District hangout, where the white hot wood-burning pizza oven bakes and blisters a steady stream of thin crust Neopolitan style pies while hot bartenders shake up icy Anejo Manhattans and Pineapple Trainwrecks for a trendy crowd. Lovers of the widely-worshipped Nostrana radicchio salad, it’s on the menu, along with three other pretty young leafy things, and a handful of “finger and fork” small plates. On weekends, go off the beaten pizza path with the inventive brunch dishes like broiled grapefruit with brown sugar caramel, duck Eggs in Purgatory, and the prosciutto plate with pimento cheese and a biscuit. Weather permitting, have your wood-fired meal and White Lady cocktail outdoors on the beautiful sidewalk patio–you’re smack dab in the middle of some of the Pearl’s prime people-watching terrain.

Sweedeedee

sweedeedeetroutAs fun to say as it is cute, funky, and downright delicious, this petite light-filled space sits quietly in a previously breakfast-barren stretch of North Albina Street, and from the moment they open the doors at 8am, the staff is cutting slices of ethereal homemade honey pie, doling out gooey sticky buns and blueberry cornmeal muffins, pouring hot cups of Extracto coffee into mismatched crockery, and dishing up hearty breakfast and lunch plates as fast as they can, to overjoyed neighborhood residents and gastro-tourists alike, all whom pack themselves into the handful of tables and window bar like happy hash-devouring sardines. Try the baked egg-topped corncakes, smoked trout plate with pickled seasonal vegetables, cream cheese and thick slices of rye bread, and any of the fantastically fresh salads and sandwiches.

Toro Bravo

torobravoextIf you have yet to fulfill that lifelong dream of running with the bulls of Pamplona but you have a low fear threshold and a lean pocketbook, just go to spirited little Toro Bravo on North Russell Street  instead — it is as much zesty good fun as its “brave bull” moniker, and a lot less likely to gore you to death. The tapas menu can induce paralysis-by-indecision, because more than likely you’ll want to order each and every Spanish-inspired small plate on it–who can resist dishes like piping hot manchego and paprika fritters, radicchio Salad with green olive toast, braised lamb with apricots and coriander, oxtail croquettes dipped in spicy chili mayo, the infamous bacon and Manchego burger and impressive house Paella Toro? If trying to choose what to order is giving you croquette-sized hives, let the kitchen choose —the Chef’s Tasting Menu is a steal at $30 per person.

Verde Cocina

verdecocinaenchiladassquareDishing up some of the freshest farm-to-table cuisine in town, this Pearl District offshoot of the popular eponymous farmers’ market stand serves gorgeous Mexican classics that are filled, surrounded and smothered with seasonal vegetables, making it the ideal compromise between a craving for decadent favorites like chile rellenos and huevos rancheros and a craving to not increase one’s waistline twofold. Salads are hearty and inventive–think roasted sweet potatoes, black and white beans, corn and kale in a lime vinaigrette, and tequila-lime marinated steak and market veggies in housemade chile dressing. But if you find yourself feeling uncomfortably wholesome, worry not—the tequila and mezcal tasting menu will take care of that.