17 Nutritionist-Rated Salads in Washington

You may think that salad is keeping your waistline slim, but it could be adding more calories.

By: Abdul Ali

With weekend trips to the beach afoot, you might be extra conscious of how well you’ll fit (or not fit) into that bathing suit. So it’s understandable if you’ve resolved to stick to salads for lunch and dinner.

But even salads require caution, say local registered dietitians Danielle Omar, Cheryl Harris, and Rebecca Scritchfield. Depending on portion size and amount of calories, sugar, fat, and carbs, they may be even more unhealthy than a Big Mac.

After polling some of our staffers on their favorite salads, we consulted our team of experts, who reviewed our picks and rated them on a scale from 1 to 5 (5 being the healthiest). Some restaurants don’t offer nutritional information; in those cases, our dietitians made their assessments solely on the ingredients listed.

Rib-eye Caesar salad with anchovies
Location:
 The Palm
Ingredients: Romaine lettuce, house-made Caesar dressing, focaccia croutons, Parmesan cheese, blackened rib-eye slices, and anchovies
Comments: “Caesar salads are notoriously high in fat and not much else,” says Omar. “This one gets a slight nod for the heart-healthy anchovies, but it doesn’t make up for the lack of fiber and the high fat content.”
Rating: 1

Arugula salad
Location: 
Cafe Milano
Ingredients: Baby arugula and Fuji apple with lemon vinaigrette and shaved Parmesan cheese
Comments: “This salad isn’t bad, it just has little going on,” Omar says. “The lack of protein will probably have you looking for something else to eat in an hour.”
Rating: 2

Harvest salad with chicken
Location:
 Corner Bakery
Ingredients: Green apples, toasted walnuts, blue cheese, and currants tossed with mixed greens, balsamic vinaigrette, and harvest crisps
Comments: Scritchfield says this is one of those dangerously deceptive salads. “This one has almost 900 calories, half a day’s worth of sodium, 73 grams of carbs, and 47 grams of fat—more fat than a Big Mac. To make it more reasonable, I usually recommend choosing cheese or nuts, but not both, and getting the dressing on the side. And since there’s fruit in the salad, skip the harvest crisps. The biggest problem here might also be the portion, so you can always ask for a half-size version and see if they’ll do it.”
Rating: 2

Steak and asparagus
Location:
 Busboys and Poets
Ingredients: Mixed field greens, asparagus, caramelized onions, gorgonzola, and cucumbers tossed in balsamic vinaigrette with steak
Comments: “This salad has a good amount of protein, but is also high in saturated fat and low in fiber,” Omar says.
Rating: 3

Chick P salad
Location: 
Sweetgreen
Ingredients: Mesclun and baby spinach with baked falafel, chickpeas, cucumbers, fresh peppers, and pita chips, topped with a lemon-hummus-tahini dressing
Comments: “I was enthusiastic until I saw the nutrition facts,” Harris says. “While everything except the pita chips is quite nutritious and the fiber content is fantastic, 35 grams of fat for one meal—half the day’s recommended amount—is excessive. Go easy on the dressing and hold the pita chips to bump this baby up to a 5.”
Rating: 3

Sesame-crusted seared rare tuna salad
Location:
 Carlyle
Ingredients: Field greens, sticky rice, sesame flatbread, and soy-lime vinaigrette, topped with sliced seared sesame-crusted tuna
Comments: “Following a balanced-plate model, I think this salad might be a little carb-heavy with the rice and the flatbread,” Scritchfield says. “I doubt the rice or flatbread are whole-grain, so that would be another negative. But it does incorporate greens, heart-healthy fat from the dressing, and fish, which most people need to eat more of.”
Rating: 3.5

Arugula salad
Location: 
Roscoe’s Pizzeria 
Ingredients: Arugula, radicchio, endive, gorgonzola, walnuts, and golden raisins with balsamic vinaigrette 
Comments: The ingredients separately are all nutritious, but again, having cheese, nuts, and dressing really bumps up the calories quickly,” Scritchfield says. “If it’s a smaller salad, I would say it’s okay, but if it’s an entrée-size salad, I might see if they would do a half portion.”
Rating: 3.5

Signature salad
Location: 
Cosi
Ingredients: Mixed greens tossed with red grapes, pears, pistachios, dried cranberries, and gorgonzola, topped with sherry-shallot vinaigrette
Comments: “Both the light and regular versions have a good amount of fiber and protein, but the regular has twice the fat and calories,” Harris says. “Go for the light—at around 400 calories, it’s still got enough fat for flavor and fiber and protein to fill you up.”
Rating: Light 5; regular 3

Roasted beet salad
Location: Bar Pilar
Ingredients: Roasted beets with mixed greens, walnuts, citrus, and goat cheese
Comments: “Beets add a ton of natural sweetness, as does the citrus, and they are [both] packed with nutrients,” says Scritchfield. “The portion here is likely smaller, so I’m less concerned about the size of this salad. Again, get the dressing on the side since there are nuts and cheese in the salad, as well.”
Rating: 4

Buttercrunch salad
Location: 
Vermilion
Ingredients: Buttercrunch lettuce tossed in green goddess dressing with aged white cheddar, shaved radishes, shaved Edward Wallace ham, and cherry tomato marmalade
Comments: “The ham will add some protein, and the lettuce will give fiber and crunch,” says Harris. “Ideally there would a broader variety of veggies, and it’s hard to judge the dressing. Green goddess dressing is a healthy option if it’s made with yogurt and avocado, but not if it’s full of mayo and cream.”
Rating: 4

Kebab cobb
Location: 
Chop’t
Ingredients: Freebird grilled chicken, feta cheese, red onion, peppers, pita chips, and romaine lettuce
Comments: “This salad has quite a bit going for it—except for having more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium,” Omar says.
Rating: 4

Chicken and avocado salad
Location:
 Pret-a-Manger
Ingredients: Grilled chicken, avocado, cranberries, walnuts, tomato, mesclun, and Pret’s seasoning
Comments: “I’m a sucker for anything with avocado, so sign me up,” Harris says. “The chicken adds protein, and the walnuts contribute some omega 3s. While the fats are all good fats from avocado, olive oil, and walnuts, you’ve still got over half your daily recommended in just one meal. Go easy on the dressing to make it a 5.”
Rating: 4

Chicken kebab salad
Location:
Skewers
Ingredients: Chicken breast marinated in a blend of Middle Eastern spices with grapes and feta
Comments: This salad has a great mix of protein, carbs, and fat with the chicken, dried fruits, and veggies,” Scritchfield says. “Adding feta, olives, and dressing again really bumps up the calories quickly. Since it comes with grapes and raisins, I would suggest skipping the pita croutons and getting dressing on the side. Choose either olives or feta instead of both.”
Rating: 4.5

Vegetarian powerhouse
Location:
 Chop’t
Ingredients: Broccoli, edamame, carrots, sunflower seeds, walnuts, Craisins, apples, spinach, and romaine lettuce
Comments: “This salad is a great option for vegetarians and meat eaters alike,” Omar says. “It’s the highest in fiber, with low sodium and satisfying protein. Its only downside is the 39 grams of sugar from the Craisins and apples.”
Rating: 5

Guacamole greens
Location: Sweetgreen
Ingredients: Mesclun with roasted chicken, avocado, grape tomatoes, red onion, and crushed tortilla chips, topped with a lime-cilantro-jalapeño vinaigrette and a lime squeeze
Comments: This salad is a win in Omar’s book. “This salad packs a big nutrition punch—it has a good amount of satisfying fiber and protein and is low in saturated fat and sodium.”
Rating: 5

Grilled Asian salad with chicken
Location: 
Chop’t
Ingredients: Spinach and romaine lettuce with carrots, slivered almonds, oranges, snow peas, and crispy Chinese noodles with carrot-ginger dressing
Comments: “Yum! Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse,” Harris says. “It’s a good source of fiber, protein, color, crunch, and taste. What’s not to like?”
Rating: 5

Short smoked grilled salmon salad
Location:
 Carlyle
Ingredients: Pine nuts, tomatoes, dates, sundried cranberries, new potatoes, and field lettuces in balsamic vinaigrette, topped with smoked grilled salmon
Comments: “I love salmon, so this would likely be my pick,” Harris says. “Between the omega 3s and protein from the salmon, the fiber from the greens, the light dressing, and the richness from the pine nuts and cranberries, this looks like the nutrition and taste winner.”
Rating: 5