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arugula salad on a plate

The Best Salads in Chicago

Welcome back to another edition of the Ambitious Kitchen Chicago Series! In this guide, you’ll find a curated list of the BEST salads in Chicago. We’ve tried tons of salads in the city and landed on 6 delicious, must-try salads that are the perfect sit-down or on-the-go lunch. Fresh, flavorful and absolutely delicious.

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Hello and welcome to our second guide in the Ambitious Kitchen Chicago Series! In case you missed it, Abra and I are exploring the city to find the best eats and treats. We kicked off the series with the best sandwiches in Chicago here, and recently found the best cookies in Chicago here! You’ll find our guides here on the blog and full videos of everywhere we explore on the @ambitiouskitchen Instagram page — be sure to follow along here!

Have any recommendations or types of food we should explore? Leave a comment at the end of this post or on our Chicago Series Instagram posts.

Our next guide features the absolute best salads in Chicago that are unique, flavorful, and definitely pass the AK test. These beautiful salads are from some of our favorite restaurants in the city, so be sure to stop by them to order the salad with more delicious sides and mains!

  1. The Wrightwood Salad from Crosby’s Kitchen: 3455 N Southport Ave.
  2. Straight “A” Salad from Beatrix: 519 N Clark St. & 834 W Fulton Market
  3. Costa Mesa Salad from Summer House Santa Monica: 1954 N Halsted St.
  4. California Salad from Doc B’s: 55 E Grand Ave & 100 E Walton St.
  5. Brussels & Kale Salad from Blue Door Farm Stand: 2010 N Halsted St. & 52 W Elm St.
  6. Antique Taco Salad from Antique Taco: 1360 N Milwaukee Ave. & 1000 W 35th St.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve had any of these amazing salads, and be sure to share more of your favorite Chicago salads with us, too.

Chicago salad on a plate

Crosby’s Kitchen

Both Abra and I have lived near Crosby’s Kitchen on Southport since we’ve been in Chicago, and it’s such a great go-to for an easy lunch or dinner. Their menu has a Midwestern feel with lots of delicious comfort food like their famous skillet cornbread, rotisserie chicken, burgers & sandwiches. The salads though, are really where it’s at. The Wrightwood is our go-to, but we recently tried the roasted peanut kale salad with grapes and a tahini-peanut dressing and it was amazing.

  • The Wrightwood: this salad is a must if you’re looking to get some veggies in but also leave full and satisfied. It has Crosby’s classic rotisserie chicken, tomatoes, craisins, avocado, goat cheese, corn, almonds, cornbread croutons(!), roasted red peppers, green onion, and a citrus vinaigrette over a bed of mixed greens. As you can see they snuck in some of their classics right into the salad!

Chicago salad with arugula and pears on a plate

Beatrix

If you’ve spent much time in River North there’s a good chance you’ve been to (or heard of) Beatrix. It’s a light and airy restaurant that doubles as a coffee shop and bakery, and it has been mine and Abra’s go-to for brunch and lunch for years. The menu has a big mix of fresh and cozy options — everything from fresh squeezed juices and salads to burgers, amazing miso glazed salmon, poke bowls, cookies, and a sneaky good meatball appetizer. Besides our fav salad listed below, we also love their shredded brussels sprouts salad! And for brunch we love the pepper & egg white sandwich and the omelet. You really can’t go wrong. They’ve since opened up in Fulton Market and Oak Brook as well, so be sure to stop in if you’re in the area!

  • Straight “A” Salad: our go-to salad is super light and fresh with arugula, avocado, Asian pear, asiago, and almonds. Can you guess why it’s called straight “A?” Even with seemingly simple ingredients the combo is really delicious and they dress the salad perfectly. Enjoy as-is or try it with salmon, and don’t forget to get a cookie on your way out (hint: Chicago series foreshadowing).

salad from Chicago with chicken and avocado on a plate

Summer House Santa Monica

Teleport to California, or maybe the Hamptons, when you get to Summer House. It’s located on the strip of Halsted restaurants like iconic Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba in Lincoln Park, and they also have a location in Bethesda, Maryland. Summer House has, of course, a chic summer vibe with tons of green plants decorating the space and endless options for rosé. It’s a fun place for a girl’s lunch, brunch or dinner and they have lots of fresh eats like ahi tuna, grilled shishito peppers, avocado toast, and a giant cobb salad, plus more comforting items like penne alla vodka, pizzas, burgers, and amazing baked goods.

  • Costa Mesa Salad: we love tons of things on the Summer House menu but the Costa Mesa is our favorite salad. It has charred corn, pico de Gallo, avocado, queso fresco, quinoa, crispy tortilla, chipotle crema and a lime vinaigrette over romaine & mixed greens. It’s delicious as-is but we also love adding their perfectly grilled chicken or salmon. The mix of textures and flavors are *chef’s kiss* and the lime vinaigrette ties the salad together really well. Remember to grab something from the bakery on the way out (more foreshadowing!)

Chicago salad on a plate with avocado and pistachios

Doc B’s

Doc B’s has two Chicago locations in River North and Streeterville, plus a few locations in Texas and Florida. I admittedly became OBSESSED with the salad we’re featuring, and it pretty much inspired this salad guide and my go-to salad recipe. They have tons of yummy salad options, plus bar food classics like wings, ribs, burgers and sandwiches. It’s a great place to take friends from out of town or to just have a casual lunch or dinner out.

  • California Salad: I never know why kale salads get such a bad rap, but once you try this salad you’ll be a kale lover 4ever. It has roasted sweet potato, pistachio, dried cranberries, wasabi peas & tortilla strips all tossed in a roasted garlic dressing. The salad is BIG so it’s nice and filling or great for splitting with a burger or sandwich. Pro tip: ask for roasted garlic sauce to dip your side of fries — it’s the same as the dressing on this amazing salad!

brussels sprouts salad in Chicago on a plate

Blue Door Farm Stand

The pretty white building on Halsted in Lincoln Park (near Summer House!) is home to Blue Door Farm Stand, and the one in Gold Coast is Blue Door Kitchen. Yes, they’re related, and yes, they have super fresh, delicious food! Blue Door Farm Stand is more of a casual lunch & dinner spot with salads, all day brunch, and great sandwiches, while Blue Door Kitchen is more of an elevated dinner place with fancy salmon, fried chicken, steaks, and coq au vin. They both have this epic brussels salad that is a must order, and both have a carrot cake that you’ll write home about.

  • Brussels & Kale Salad: oh look, we’re back on the kale train. This beauty is one of the more simpler salads on our list but is somehow so addicting. It has shredded brussels sprouts and kale, parmesan cheese, toasted almonds, bacon, and a maple-tahini dressing. This Tahini Queenie is in heaven. The combo is salty, sweet, and absolute perfection. Split it with a friend and get a sandwich or brunch wrap on the side!

Chicago salad with strawberries in a bowl

Antique Taco

The cutest taco place with locations in Wicker Park and in Bridgeport. Antique Taco has tons of fun taco varieties like sweet & spicy chicken, potato & poblano, and garlic shrimp with elote cauliflower, but I’m truly obsessed with their signature salad. The restaurant has been family run since 2012 and is both minority and women owned! Remember to pair your tacos and salad with some guac and a rosemary or blood orange margarita.

  • Antique Taco Salad: this isn’t your regular taco salad, kids. This gorgeous bowl is filled with kale (are we sensing a pattern?!), seasonal fruit, red pepper, onion, queso, spicy peanuts, cranberries, sesame, tortilla strips and the best damn pomegranate vinaigrette dressing ever. I recently had it with strawberries and the sweet & savory elements were absolutely delicious. It’s amazing on it’s own but you can also add chicken, pork, shrimp or avocado!

Check out all of our guides

I hope you love this guide in our AK Chicago Series! Did we miss any of your favorite Chicago salads? Let us know in the comments below.

Let us know what Chicago-based food series we should do next!

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