Looking for delicious and healthy salads without paying a fortune? Here are some terrific fast casual salad chains that you should visit right away:
This brand started out in 2007, when some guys not yet out of college started their food business right out of their dorms. Upon graduating, they managed to gather $300,000 from family and friends and they started Sweetgreen right neat the Georgetown campus in DC.
Today, the business has been valuated at a billion dollars, with about 160 locations all over the state. You’ll find long lines at each restaurant, and that may seem surprising for a salad shop. But here, they offer fast fresh salads that are actually delicious, while still remaining healthy. And the full Sweetgreen prices are not all that high.
That’s an unbeatable combination, especially with salads and bowls that look great on Instagram. And they even get all their ingredients fresh, supplied by local farmers. They’re determined to work only with small and midsize growers that practice sustainable farming.
While you can craft your own salad here, you should really start with their preset chef-designed options. You can go with the Fish Taco and Chicken Pest Parm bowls, along with the Guacamole Greens Salad. Those are exceptional options, though it all depends on which ingredients are in season. Regardless of what you get here, you’re getting a premium meal and your money’s worth.
This is a close rival of Sweetgreen, and it’s been around since 2001. It’s actually among the trailblazers in the fast casual salad industry, as the brand has helped to cement the core principles that we’ve come to expect from a good fast food salad dining experience.
Chop’t was among the first chain restaurants to offer truly delicious seasonal salads without charging you a fortune for the meal. They also were (and still are) famous for offering custom salads with fresh, premium-quality ingredients, which are then tossed by hand. If you ask, they’ll even chop your salad for you.
Among their best menu items is the Paleo Mexican Harvest Salad, which features chicken along with sweet potatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds, and Mexican Goddess dressing. You should also try the Kebab Cobb with the crunchy pita chips and falafel, along with the Havana Bowl with crispy plantains, cauliflower rice, and Green Mojo dressing.
You’ll get all that you’re looking for in a salad here, with no frills and distractions. It’s just a great-tasting salad that’s healthy and affordable—what else do you need?
This is technically a fast casual brand, but with its fine-dining inspirations, it’s not exactly a stereotypical quick salad chain. They have about 30 locations, mostly in LA, San Diego, and San Francisco. And each of those Tender Greens location has a professional chef running the operations. They’re really serious about their salads here.
Like the other top salad chains, you’ll find plenty of bowls and salads here to pick from. But you can also get some filling custom dinner plates, along with soups and desserts. You can have some larger family meals, and they’re even doing brunch these days.
The overall vibe in the restaurant is trendy and stylish, which fits in nicely with the terrific food made with locally sourced ingredients. Try the Chipotle BBQ Chicken Salad, and you’ll understand what all the fuss is all about. You can also go with the great Happy Vegan Salad, and the fully-loaded Tuna Niçoise.
Crisp & Green
This is a relative newcomer to the fast casual salad scene, appearing just in 2016. But it now has 8 locations in Texas and Minnesota, with plans for more locations in another 5 states.
Here, they offer a menu with food that’s crafted by a chef and then made absolutely from scratch. And along the way, they promise world-class hospitality and commitment to the local community.
What really makes this brand so successful so quickly is that they’ve managed to tone down the prices. You can build your own salad here with a starting price of just $7.50, and that’s significantly more affordable than the prices you might find in other salad chains.
Add a few more dollars and cents, and you can add all your favorite toppings. Crisp & Green offers special ingredients like poblano, roasted corn, and maple-roasted butternut squash to will surely make your salad a terrific dish that makes all other salads seem bland in comparison.
Or you can just go with their No Prob Cobb. With its jalapeño green goddess dressing, you’ll really have no problems at all.
The brand started out in a mall, but it became so successful that the small food court couldn’t quite deal with the number of customers it was attracting. It added 12 more locations by 2015.
This uses the simple Subway formula that lets you build your own custom salad in a way that’s logical. First, you start off with the base. It can be romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, or a spring mix. It can even be whole grain pasta if you want.
Then you can add up to 5 toppings, which can include glazed pecans, roasted squash, and avocado. Top it off with a dressing, and you’re off to a great meal!