10 favorite and flavorful salads for refreshing summer dining in Houston
When considering what to eat on a warm Houston summer night, sizzling chicken fajitas, slow-cooked ribs with fresh coleslaw, and cheesy, grilled sliders may come to mind.
But with the oppressive Houston heat hitting its stride, try exploring the surplus of easy, fresh, and flavorful salads this city’s finest restaurants have to offer.
Consider this group of tasteful, unique salads as our suggestions for making the scorching summer days a little more bearable.
Island Grill - Island Greek Salad
A Houston staple, Island Grill has served some of the city's best Mediterranean food since 2000. Specifically, their Island Greek Salad — fully loaded with broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, feta, tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, and Kalamata olives that's dressed with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and served with a side of warm pita bread — is a house favorite. Not only is the salad fresh and consistently delicious, but the combination of eight vegetables dressed in balsamic vinaigrette, specifically the sweetness of the onion and slight crunch of the mushroom, makes for an incredibly satisfying experience.
Barnaby's Cafe - Lebanese Chicken Fattoush Salad
With seven Houston-area locations, including one that just opened in Spring Branch, Barnaby's is a local favorite with a wide-ranging menu that spans many different cuisines. While the restaurant serves many noteworthy salads, the Lebanese Chicken Fattoush Salad stands out as one its signature dishes. Decorated with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, olives, feta cheese, house vinaigrette, herb mix, and a seasoned chicken breast, the salad’s unique flavors compliment each other for a rich flavor that keeps diners coming back for more.
Ojo de Agua - Salmon and Pistachio Salad
A new addition to River Oaks District, Ojo de Agua serves Mexican dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The tiled tables, hanging chairs, beautifully decorated dishes, and an array of freshly squeezed juices transport diners to the restaurant's original locations in Mexico City. While the Chicken and Tomato and Rosemary and Pasta salads are clear standout dishes, the Sweet Potato and Pistachio salad with salmon might be our favorite. A nice mix of savory and sweet, the Sweet Potato and Pistachio salad includes kale, avocado, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, fresh pickles, roasted sweet potatoes, and pistachio with sprouts, sesame seeds, spicy tangerine vinaigrette dressing, and diner's choice of salmon or tuna steak. The variety of textures and addition of three superfoods - avocado, sweet potato, and salmon - make for an incredibly flavorful and nutritious dish.
Grace’s on Kirby - American Garden Salad
Part of Johnny's Carrabba's Upper Kirby empire that includes Carrabba’s and Mia’s Table, Grace’s serves an upscale take on classic Southern food. Fried Green Tomatoes, Maw Maw’s Pork Pot Roast, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, and Mac N’ Cheese are just a few of Grace’s most popular recipes. For this article, let's look at the American Garden Salad. Offered as a side or main dish, the American Garden Salad includes chopped carrots, bacon, croutons, and choice of thousand island, blue cheese vinaigrette, classic vinaigrette, or ranch dressing. Not only is this salad is a classic, it may also contain Houston's best croutons — big, crunchy, and deliciously seasoned.
Adair Kitchen - The Harvest Salad
With a new location near West University, Adair Kitchen continues to serve as a go-to for casual lunches and dinners. The restaurant's menu of approachable comfort food includes many tempting options, but don’t miss the Harvest Salad. Butter lettuce topped with grilled chicken breast, goat cheese, avocado, candied walnuts, strawberries, and sweet green dressing, the Harvest Salad is a staple. While fruit is not always a good idea on salads, Adair takes advantage of the sweet taste of strawberry, the tart goat cheese, and avocado to produce a light and fresh summer salad.
Trattoria Sofia - Cavalo Nero
During a recent meal under the garden lights on on the beautiful terrace at Ben Berg's Italian restaurant in the Heights, the Cavalo Nero salad stood out a favorite. The salad combines Tuscan kale salad with basil, mint, smoked chili, toasted parmesan bread crumbs, and Parmigiano Reggiano to produce a memorable combination of textures and flavors. Available as an appetizer or a main, the parmesan bread crumbs and imported Parmigiano Reggiano are pressed into the ideally massaged kale, adding a rich flavor nicely complemented by the basil and mint.
Niko Niko’s - Greek Salad
Known for its traditional Greek fare, this Houston favorite offers arguably one of Houston's favorite salads. Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, red onions, capers, bell peppers, pepperoncini peppers, and feta cheese over iceberg and romaine lettuce dressed with their signature dressing and boosted with a choice of gyro meat, grilled chicken, falafel, or shrimp, Niko Niko’s Greek Salad oozes with flavor. Not only are the ingredients juicy and fresh, but the salad is filling and satisfies a grumbling stomach. Mopping up the leftover dressed with some freshly-baked pita completes the experience.
True Food Kitchen - Chopped Salad
Striving to create healthy yet delicious dishes, True Food Kitchen offers a menu with gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. One of the restaurant's most popular dishes, the vegan Chopped Salad combines mixed greens with Medjool datea, jicama, apple, dried cranberry, manchego, farro, Marcona almond, and a champagne vinaigrette. The subtle ingredients combine to create a crisp dish embellished by the sweet flavor of the dried cranberries and the crunch of the farro and almonds.
Tiny’s No.5 - Classic Caesar
Although it might be best known for its celebrated chocolate chip cookies and deluxe charcuterie boards, Tiny’s Classic Caesar is just as beloved. A combination of romaine, parmesan, croutons, grilled chicken, and Caesar dressing, the Classic Caesar lives up to its name. The subtle Caesar dressing enhances the flavor of the fresh lettuce and shaved parmesan, making for a wonderfully light and refined summer salad.
Picnik - Cobb Salad
Recently opened in the Montrose Collective mixed-use development, Picnik serves a breakfast, lunch, and dinner that can be paired with a range of coffees and cocktails. While items like the Breakfast Taco Plate, Cashew Queso, Chicken Katsu Sandwich, and Sustainable Salmon are some of the menu's most popular dishes, the Cobb Salad is a crowd favorite. Decorated with avocado, tomato, raw bleu cheese, no-sugar bacon, Vital Farms egg, cavolo nero, crispy Red Bird chicken, and green goddess dressing, Picnik’s Cobb Salad offers a fresh take on the classic. .