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The Dahlia Lounge Grilled Bread Salad. (Image: Tom Douglas Restaurants)

A Definitive Guide to the Salads of Seattle

While I’ve extolled the delicious virtues of the gluttonous, be it burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, and baked goods around Seattle, sometimes I have cravings for a smartly-composed salad as well. A mélange of texture, seasonality, and flavor, salads can often be overlooked as ho-hum, lunch al desko-fare. But when done well, salads are as great as they are healthful. Throughout Seattle there are a few cafés, restaurants, and eateries that serve up some of the definitive salads around town. If you have a distinct yearning for a salad, these are your spots.

Bramling Cross Wedge Salad .The Wedge here is a simple thing; iceberg lettuce, herb buttermilk dressing, blue cheese, bacon, tomatoes, and a hard-boiled egg. Sure, you could fancy it up, but those ingredients are the backbone. Bramling Cross stands strong with their wedge. First off, their wedge is more like a half. That’s right, you get half a head of iceberg. Secondly, if you love any ingredient that comprises a wedge, you’ll get plenty here. Order this salad, their pickle fries, and the Dynamite Chicken, you’ll have a fine meal for four.

Café Nordstrom Niçoise Salad with Wild Salmon. While Nordstrom is the place to go for your latest outfit or new shoes, it flies under the radar for Seattleites looking for a bite to eat. The flagship Nordstrom in downtown Seattle has a number of options if one is feeling peckish and the Niçoise salad with wild salmon at Café Nordstrom is a local favorite. You’ll get a generous filet of wild salmon dressed with mustard and herbs atop a Niçoise salad and its classic ingredients of tomatoes, olives, eggs, and more. And if you go, you may be able to start a new family tradition.

Café Presse Salade Verte. When Café Presse first opened along 12th Avenue on Capitol Hill, it was like a comet arrived in Seattle. It was a new epicenter of Capitol Hill. Opened early, closed late, it welcomed Seattleites far and wide for their Croque Madame, roast chicken, and this salad. The Salade Verte is relatively simple on the surface: bibb lettuce, hazelnuts, and a hazelnut vinaigrette. In Café Presse’s case, simplicity shines. Perfectly balanced with the soft lettuce leaves, crunchy hazelnuts, and the vinaigrette that sways between rich and brightly elegant. While you’re here, get the Chocolat Chaud and live large.

Canlis Salad. If there was an iconic Seattle salad, it would be this one. The Canlis Salad. The only dish on the menu with the Canlis name on it. A dish that was the litmus test for an episode of Top Chef. Based on the Canlis' brother's great grandmother’s recipe, it features bacon, fresh herbs (the addition of oregano is clutch), and Romano cheese. But that belies its simplicity, thoughtfulness and execution. You can try making it at home, but as with any dinner at Canlis, the experience is part of the appeal. Served tableside and in a wooden bowl, the touch of the server, watching the components come together, all while in that room makes for a moment to remember. Take a bite for it is part of Seattle restaurant history. You could even pop in for a quick visit with a drink and the salad in the Canlis' lounge.

Chinook’s Crab Louie. Located at Fisherman’s Terminal in Magnolia, Chinook's is a longtime stalwart that pleases the crowd with classic dishes like their Crab Louie. Loaded with Dungeness crab (also available in a crab and shrimp Louie), you get your money’s worth with the crustacean. And the hallmark of any Louie salad is the dressing. At Chinook’s, the Louie is served up in a gravy boat, you can dress your salad with reckless abandon or diminutive dollops. The choice is yours.

Dahlia Lounge Bread Salad. Stepping into the Dahlia Lounge gets you in the Tom Douglas Restaurant group’s longest-serving restaurant (taking in to account the original location across the street famously seen in Sleepless in Seattle), you'll be welcomed with the style and service the restaurateur is so well known for. Take the Wood Grilled Salad; loaded with greens, radicchio, olives, mozzarella, and salumi; it is like a deconstructed sandwich on the plate. The texture of the ingredients keeps for an interesting experience as the mingling of the flavors are in harmony.

Metropolitan Grill’s Steak Salad. Here’s the thing about most steak salads, you get served overcooked or insipid steak. Not so at Metropolitan Grill. As one of the more esteemed steakhouses in Seattle, The Met comes correct with their steak salad. The cut for their steak salad is called the Butcher’s Cut; near the backbone and rump, this cut is also called an Oyster or Spider Steak. What’s nice about The Met’s steak on this salad is that it is from Snake River Farms American Waygu, it's full of flavor and offers a bang for the buck. And the pile of fried onions crowning the salad is a welcomed textural punch that will jab you over and over again with fried goodness.

13 Coins Cobb Salad. At this all hours haunt in South Lake Union (but really, 13 Coins has been in the neighborhood so long, the area wasn’t called South Lake Union when they opened), 13 Coins serves up Americana classics to eaters looking to chow down in their darkened dining room amidst the private booths and high-backed chairs. The 13 Coins Cobb Salad touches all the bases for this salad and they serve it all up in a massive portion. Revel in the healthy serving of the turkey, ham, and bacon atop a bed of greens dotted with blue cheese and a hard-boiled egg.