Dozen Best Entree Salads
New Orleans spends a lot of the year in the salad season. Even though it actually does nothing to bring your body temperature down, a big, cool, crisp salad just feels right when it’s hot outside. Even men–who disdain salad-munching in their younger years–soon come around as they get older. Here are the best big salads I’ve found around town. Since this is such a big field and one can never check all of the possibilities, I expect and invite suggestions for other salad that would fit into this list.
1. Cafe Giovanni. French Quarter: 117 Decatur. 504-529-2154. Crabmeat Siciliana salad is a massive pile of crabmeat tossed with greens. The special wrinkle here is olivada vinaigrette–a loose, finely-chopped muffuletta olive salad. A friend ordered this plus the restaurant’s seafood insalata Caprese, topping the latter with the former. An entree was born.
2. Galatoire’s. French Quarter: 209 Bourbon. 504-525-2021. The city’s oldest, most distinguished entree salad is the sole survivor of what were once many, all named for the big department stores that once lined canal Street. Godchaux’s the store is long gone, but Galatoire’s keeps its name alive in this great seafood salad. Big shrimp and lump crabmeat dominate the greens.
3. Dakota. Covington: 629 N US 190 . 985-892-3712. The seared tuna salad is one of the signature dishes at Dakota, available as a starter at dinner or an entree at lunch. The tuna almost glows in the dark with its shocking interior redness. The wasabi aioli gives it a sushi suggestion. Also here is a seared steak salad; I have asked for and received a hybrid of this with the tuna salad, to great effect
4. Mr. B’s Bistro. French Quarter: 201 Royal. 504-523-2078. Buffalo chicken salad here is just what it sounds like, except that it used fried chicken breast instead of wings. Great sauce of butter, hot sauce and honey, with blue cheese and excellent greens.
5. Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse. French Quarter: 716 Iberville. 504-522-2467. Combine two appetizers and you have a marvelous entree. One of these is the tomato and blue cheese Napoleon, a stack of tomato slices and thin slices of red onion. The magic comes from Dickie Brennan’s discovery is that blue cheese and red remoulade sauce are magnificently complimentary. Add the boiled shrimp remoulade–another appetizer–and you have a good and not-so-light repast. Some big guys will follow this with a steak, but we won’t go there.
6. Zea. Harahan: 1655 Hickory Ave. 504-738-0799. ||Kenner: 1325 West Esplanade Ave. 504-468-7733. ||Lee Circle Area: 1525 St Charles Ave. 504-520-8100. ||Metairie: 4450 Veterans Blvd (Clearview Mall). 504-780-9090. ||Covington: 110 Lake Dr. 985-327-0520. ||Harvey: 1121 Manhattan Blvd. 504-361-8293. ||Slidell: 173 Northshore Blvd. 985-273-0500. Zea’s salad selection is one of the city’s best. The Asian seared tuna salad is a terrific thatch of tuna sticks (there’s no other name for them) encrusted with sesame seeds, seared, to rare in the center, leaning against a stack of greens, sprouts, fried noodles (better left out), and a Thai-style peanut vinaigrette. Also good are the sweet-heat spinach salad and the “Zeasar.”
7. Drago’s. Metairie: 3232 N Arnoult Rd. 504-888-9254. ||CBD: 2 Poydras. 504-584-3911. Drago’s Mediterranean salad is almost too simple: baby greens topped with a fantastic amount of white (not lump, but good enough) crabmeat. It’s all tossed with a lemon vinaigrette dressing. A great fast-lunch dish: they whip it out in minutes, and it’s so good you gobble it up.
8. Cafe Equator. Metairie: 2920 Severn Ave. 504-888-4772 . Larb is a warm-and-cool Thai salad, usually made with beef. Cafe Equator’s version comes with chicken instead. It’s spicy with chili peppers, and aromatic and refreshing with mint, basil, and other fresh herbs, tossed with crunchy greens and raw sliced vegetables.
9. Maple Street Cafe. Riverbend: 7623 Maple. 504-314-9003. The Greek salad here is the best in town, and not only because it’s served in a bowl carved out of a round loaf of crusty bread. The greens are fresh, the feta cheese and olives are applied generously, and the dressing delicious.
10. Rusty Pelican. Mandeville: 500 Girod St. 985-778-0364. This very casual restaurant serves up an unlikely but undeniably good fried crab cake. It can be served over a well-assembled salad with an unusual variation of ranch dressing that has the tang of a remoulade. The result is a player on this list, at a lower price than any of the others.
11. New Orleans Food & Spirits. Bucktown: 210 Hammond Hwy. 504-828-2220. ||Harvey: 2330 Lapalco Blvd. 504-362-0800. ||Covington: 208 Lee Lane. 985-875-0432. In the grilled shrimp remoulade salad, the shrimp are large and local, and the remoulade sauce is sharp and verging on rich. Too big to finish.
12. Andrea’s. Metairie: 3100 19th St. 504-834-8583. Insalata Portofino is a seafood salad made by combining the marinated, chilled seafood from Andrea’s antipasto selection and adding greens. You’ll find crabmeat, mussels, shrimp, clams, calamari, fish, and sometimes lobster, all in a light Italian dressing that could use more tang.