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9 Best Salad Chains in America

fresh salad with chicken, egg, tomato, and croutons

Explore the colorful world of salads with our list of the top American salad chains. These restaurants take the simple salad and turn it into a culinary masterpiece, with a wide variety of flavors and textures to suit all tastes. Freshness is prioritized without sacrificing flavor in these salad havens, which include farm-fresh produce and inventive dressings. Take a culinary tour with us as we investigate the best salad chains, each of which is a reflection of the changing availability of scrumptious and healthful food options. These restaurants guarantee a bowlful of goodness in every bite, regardless of your level of experience with leafy greens.


Sweetgreen

Sweetgreen
Source: Instagram

“Building healthier communities by connecting people to real food” is the motto of Sweetgreen. Sweetgreen prides itself in serving only the cleanest, natural vegetables with its salads and other menu items. Their products aren’t certified organic by name, but many of the farmers they source from only use organic practices to grow their veggies. The results are tasty salads with a modern spin. What I love most from this salad chain is the Super Green Goddess, a shredded kale and baby spinach salad with raw beets, cabbage, broccoli, almonds, chickpeas, and green goddess ranch. The chain is very trendy with an active social media presence. A recent press release mentions famous tennis player Naomi Osaka as one of their youngest investors.


Chopt

Chopt
Source: Instagram

Chopt takes a spicy spin on the classic salad. This place has colorful decor and even more colorful salads. They also have some yummy homemade dressing, such as their steakhouse blue cheese. Chopt was founded in 2001 and has been serving the freshest, and spiciest, salads since its opening. Their specialties include the Spicy Sonoma Caesar Salad with creamy caesar dressing and the Gochujang Crunch Salad with spicy sesame cucumbers. But how does Chopt maintain a fun atmosphere and fresh food all at once? The chain uses a full-bar operation. One section to order your food, which leads to a section where you see it freshly chopped and dressed, and the last section where you pay. 


Saladworks

Saladworks
Source: Instagram

Saladworks’ humble beginnings start in a mall. The franchise was so successful that the small food court wasn’t enough to handle this store’s popularity. By 2015, the chain had opened 12 additional locations. I like to visit Saladworks because it reminds me of Subway. You truly can’t go wrong when you build it yourself. Start with your choice between romance lettuce, a spring mix, kale, spinach, or even whole grain pasta. From there you can add up to 5 toppings, including avocado, roasted squash, and glazed pecans. Lastly, top it off with dressing and enjoy your perfectly crafted creation. If you want to create your salad, visit Saladworks. Even if you’re too overwhelmed to create your own, you can order one of their signature salads such as the popular Bently salad which includes glazed ham. 

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Fresh & Co.

Fresh & Co.
Source: Instagram

“Just Made. Just For You” is Fresh & Co.’s slogan, and you’ll taste the difference in each bite. The chain has locations all across New York City, and each one outdoes itself. This family-owned restaurant was founded in 2010 and has been thriving ever since. I especially appreciated their family-first atmosphere. The restaurant is decorated to make you feel right at home. My favorite treat here is the Falafel Salad, a blend of fresh kale and romaine dressed with hot sauce and lemon tahini, and tossed with chickpeas, scallions, and falafel. I also enjoy having their avocado chicken side salad on a busy lunch break.


Hale & Hearty Soups

Hale & Hearty Soups
Source: Instagram

This popular soup joint started as a small back-of-house restaurant joint serving creamy soup to busy people. The joint got so popular it opened more stores and has committed to fresh ingredients ever since. And don’t be fooled, this restaurant makes more than just good soup. Their salads are some of the best in New York, and New Yorkers know good food. The best way to order a salad here is with a side soup or sandwich. Their Curried Chicken Chowder soup pairs well with a house salad. The Balsamic Chicken and Avocado sandwich pairs best with their baby arugula salad. I must say, this salad joint gives Panera a run for their money!


Just Salad

Just Salad
Source: Instagram

Just Salad is a popular chain in the U.S for several reasons, but one of the biggest reasons for its popularity is its inspiring commitment to sustainability. The store uses reusable containers to package their products, and they’re always encouraging their customers to reuse their containers. Their intentional ingredients are prepped daily in-house and handled with pride. I was most surprised to see how diverse and delightful their staff was. Everyone seemed to enjoy their job and take care of the customer. When I first went, I ordered the buffalo chicken salad, but after scanning the room I wished I had ordered the Chipotle Cowboy. The customers couldn’t get enough of that one. The second time I visited I ordered it and fell in love with the flavor. This salad had so much fresh chicken, and best of all it was all plant-based. I love this restaurant’s commitment to helping the environment as well as serving healthy food. A step in the right direction for American chain restaurants. 


Chop Stop

Chop Stop
Source: Instagram

I don’t usually fall easily for restaurants that claim to have the “best-chopped salad you’ll ever eat!”, but this restaurant didn’t fail to impress me with their flavorful salads. Chop Stop caters to the hungry individual or the modest date who claims they only want a salad. These salads are seriously loaded and finely chopped. The salad is so well chopped you can eat it with a spoon. I ordered the Viva Mexican Chop because it had jalapenos and black beans, but they have plenty of other salads for those less daring. Their vegan chorizo chopped salad is the most popular. I enjoyed dining at Chop Stop because the interior reminds me of hanging out late at night in college. Its setup is laid-back, fast-paced, and overall very familiar. 

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Simply Salad

Simply Salad
Source: Instagram

From the interior to their packaging, this joint is all about the brand. They promote wholesome, clean, and natural food in a simple, aesthetically-pleasing environment. The chain was founded by two best buds who were tired of having unhealthy foods during their quick breaks but also didn’t want to spend tons of money on a healthy meal. The dilemma birthed Simply Salad, a combination of good food and an affordable price. I like to dine at Simply Salad because they have one of the best create your own salad bars in America. You start with an option between romaine, arugula, baby spinach, kale, or their signature Simply Salad mix. Then you can choose from 5 different categories of toppings including several kinds of cheese, meats, seafood, premium, and “simple” toppings. Lastly, you can choose from several dressing categories including the usual dressings or something spontaneous like Sweet Waldorf. 


Tender Greens

Tender Greens
Source: Instagram

I visit Tender Greens whenever I want a top-notch fast food experience. The restaurant started as a bold idea thought of by two unique chefs who wanted to share their childhood favorites with the world. In 2006, the chefs opened their restaurant and have been delivering a truly one-of-a-kind restaurant experience since. Aside from their renowned customer service, each location is owned and operated by an executive chef who creates and executes the perfect menu for guests. My favorite salads here include the Mediterranean Steak and the Chinese Chicken. I was skeptical about ordering the Chinese Chicken salad, but the flavors were so well-done I truly felt it was authentic. 


One Comment

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  1. Check out Salata
    It’s like salad meets subway/chipotle: choose the base (lettuce, kale, spinach, etc), choose the toppings.
    Simply salad sounds similar ‘cept salata sits in south states.
    (not sure I could squeeze in more S’)
    They used to have a HUGE assortment of toppings, but it seems that covid/supply chain may be impacting the choices. Toppings ranged from beets to jicama, sprouts, various seeds, but I’m seeing less of those.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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