This brightly decorated, convivial cubby in Madison Valley serves surely the most underrated lunch food in town: the custom salad. Like wildly successful (if vowel deficient) chains such as Chopt in New York or Mixt in Los Angeles, Seattle Salads allows you to call your shots from a panoply of ingredients. Your mix is then tossed with a dressing of your choice by deft use of a tong-and-bowl combo.
The menu: There are house-devised mixes like “Quinoa, Walnut, Goat Cheese” or Seattle Cobb salad, but the real ticket here is the choose-your-own adventure route. The salads come in 32-ounce ($7, including four toppings) and 48-ounce ($11, six toppings) sizes.
Choose from a menu of proteins like grilled turkey, hard-boiled eggs and bacon; a selection of cheeses like feta, Parmesan and blue; and crunchable accents like bagel chips and crumbled Tim’s potato chips (a salad innovation you never knew you needed till now). And, of course, there is the plant life: tomatoes, chickpeas, carrots, cucumbers, black beans, green beans, corn, red onions, kalamata olives and pears (to name some).
You can add additional toppings for 55 cents each, and there is a selection of “premium” additions like grilled chicken ($2.50 extra) and avocado (99 cents extra).
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What to write home about: Aside from the joy found in exercising your culinary free will, the fixings are fresh and the homemade dressings — which include choices like cilantro lime vinaigrette, red-pepper ranch, and mandarin sesame — are quite tasty. They can also be ordered by the jar for home use.
The setting: With only two, two-person tables, this is really a takeout spot, but your brief visit will be a happy one. With cheery walls painted a color that could only be called “electric avocado” and a polished-DIY feel, the little shop is staffed by a friendly crew of salad slingers.
Summing up: A “Tahini & Kale” salad, a self-designed salad with two additions and a premium and a large sparkling water came to $33.92 — and fed two amply.
Brian Gallagher: email@example.com