Kim Ranjbar

$20 and Under: Lettuce Eat!

09:00 May 10, 2022
By: Kim Ranjbar

Having a tonic and lime at a bar or ordering a salad at a restaurant has long been associated with abstention and self-denial. In the 80s, a salad was practically synonymous with dieting.

A pile of iceberg (a nutritional nada, by the way) dotted with a few cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber and drizzled lightly with oil and vinegar was a surefire way to lose weight or maintain your figure—and leave you hungry.

While it seems we are finally starting to move beyond salad's "healthy" stigma, among other worse connotations, many still mistakenly avoid ordering salads in the belief that they're not worth the money or not a substantial meal. They couldn't be more wrong.

Kim Ranjbar

Take for example the salads that owners Steven and Chelsea Boulet are slinging at Bon Temps Boulet's Seafood in Metairie. Sure, most folks who walk into this small, brick-red joint on Airline Drive are there to feast on boiled crawfish or shrimp, po-boys, or their crazy-good smoked wings, but have you even looked at their salads? Consider this—fresh, spring greens topped with crisply-fried green tomatoes, boiled shrimp, crunchy house made croutons, and plenty of rémoulade dressing for only $13.99.

Over in Mid-City, stashed away in a strip mall on the corner of N. Carrollton and Bienville, Brown Butter Restaurant has a couple of leafy revelations to bowl you over. Regaled for their braised short rib with smoked marrow grits and crab mac 'n' cheese, it's not a place that shies away from all things meaty and their salads are no exception. Indeed, the eponymous "B.B. Salad" contains lettuce, but there's also smoked bacon lardons, dried stone fruit, crumbled blue cheese, and candied pecans all drizzled in a Louisiana sugarcane vinaigrette. It's already a mighty meal for $13, but for only $5 more you can add grilled or fried chicken and still remain under budget.

Though kale's popularity seems to be waning, it still makes an amazing salad, especially if you do it justice like Chef Talia Diele at Sofia NOLA. Letting the flavors of simple ingredients shine through, the Arts District restaurant features dishes of house-made ricotta and focaccia with clover honey and fennel pollen, truffle risotto with mushroom conserva, and scallops with parsnip cream. But start it all out with a salad antipasti starring fresh kale from Covey Rise Farms, juicy beets, nutty grana padano cheese, hazelnuts, and apple shrub vinaigrette. Priced at only $14, it's a flavor adventure worth every penny.

Kim Ranjbar

Owned and operated by famous local bartender Chris McMillian, Revel Cafe & Bar on N. Carrollton Avenue is a neighborhood spot drawing lots of friends and fans inside for a cocktail and perhaps a little poetry. While you won't want to miss out on McMillian's stunning Sazerac or Ramos Gin Fizz, it would be a mistake to overlook the food. Among dishes of white anchovy bruschetta and deep fried Brussels sprouts, a few seasonal salads will tickle your taste buds, and leave you completely satisfied. Try the Mexicali with grilled chicken, avocado, black beans and charred tomatillo salsa or answer the call of "La Sirena," a Green Goddess salad with little gem lettuce, herbsaint-boiled shrimp and crawfish ravigote, and shredded Parmesan. A "small" order will set you back $13, but for $4 more, you can add crispy-fried oysters to ensure you're sated.

Touted as a "little piece of Paris in the Black Pearl," Tartine is an amazing sandwich shop owned and operated by chefs Cara and Evan Benson. Located on Perrier Street, a couple of blocks off of Broadway, this excellent little eatery is known for its open-faced sandwiches showcasing not only their freshly-baked breads, but fillings like pork rillette and thick-sliced ham with triple cream brie, but they also offer some pretty incredible salads, and at great prices no less. During the week, you'll discover plenty of regulars popping in to grab their lunch; steak salad with Romaine and grilled vegetables; roasted chicken with apples, spiced pecans and creamy feta vinaigrette; and cured salmon salad with avocado, shaved cucumber, feta and French vinaigrette. None of Tartine's salads will run more than $14, so make that famous combo with an added cup of soup, why don't ya?

Finally, it's worth spending a little extra gas to cruise out to Lakeview for a meal at Junior's on Harrison. Clean and bright with a modern nautical-type feel, Junior's already has regulars pouring in for great burgers and sandwiches, and dishes like short rib arancini with smoked mozzarella, redfish tacos and scallops with Parmesan risotto. The neighborhood spot also features a chopped kale salad, but to really stuff yourself silly, it is recommended you try the Cowboy Cobb with grilled chicken, bacon, queso fresco, creamy avocado, corn nuts and buttermilk dressing. At $16, it's the priciest salad on this list, but you will definitely not leave hungry.

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