Get Your Greens
Every day, you wake up and think, “What should I eat today?” Well, if you don’t, it’s an important choice for most of us. Maybe you need something to power the rest of your workday, but don’t want a heavy meal that will put you in a food coma. Or maybe you need to grab something quick for dinner, but still want to eat healthy. You can never go wrong with a salad. In downtown Coral Gables, the options for where to go for this simple yet satisfying dish are seemingly endless.
259 Miracle Mile
Opened almost two years ago, Carrot Express is a haven for health-minded foodies. They have a wide variety of salads, from a kale Caesar to the Oriental crunch. In the mood for Mexican, I got La Mexicana, which has romaine, roasted corn, black beans, jack cheese, tortilla strips, avocado, cilantro and tomato and is tossed in a honey-lime vinaigrette. I added grilled chicken, but if you’re vegetarian, the black beans also serve as a great source of protein. The honey-lime vinaigrette is thick and creamy and adds both a nice texture and sweet and sour flavor to the dish.
Green Gables Café
327 Alhambra Circle
I could not write about salads and not include Green Gables Café, one of the most popular spots in town for a healthy meal. Surprisingly, they only have a few salads on their menu, but they are excellent. I ordered the Citrus Cilantro salad, made with romaine, avocado, tomato, red onions, cilantro, parmesan shavings and citrus cilantro dressing. Adding chicken definitely puts it on the pricier side; what was already a $12 salad is now $18. It is a great salad, though, and the friendliness of their staff almost makes you forget about the dent in your wallet.
122 Giralda Ave.
Having just opened on Giralda Plaza in December, the chain is already taking Coral Gables by storm. If you’re going during the lunch rush, there will definitely be a wait, but it will be worth it – especially if you’re waiting for the Guacamole Greens salad. It has a heart next to it on the menu, meaning it’s a customer favorite, and now I know why. Made with romaine and spring mix, half of a lime is squeezed onto the lettuce before adding the lime cilantro jalapeno vinaigrette, roasted chicken, avocado, cherry tomatoes, shredded cabbage and crushed tortilla chips.
166 Alhambra Circle
Chandlers Place is the definition of a hole-in-the-wall in the best way possible. You may not have even noticed it until they added a nice outdoor seating area in the parking spots on Alhambra Circle. But this tiny spot a block north of Giralda Plaza really packs a punch. Here, the food is good, the price is right and the service is friendly. A small Caesar salad is $3.95 and a large is $6.95. You can add chicken or tuna for $2 – $3. Ask the owner Chandler for their daily specials and if shrimp is one of them, definitely add it to your salad.
Giardino Gourmet Salads
2346 Ponce de Leon Blvd.
Founded in 2004 in Coral Gables, Giardino Gourmet Salads now has more than a dozen locations across Florida. As a Giardino regular, my favorite is the Thai Thai salad, made with romaine and iceberg lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, red cabbage and spicy peanut dressing. Add a scoop of curry turkey for some added flavor and protein. This definitely has a kick, so if you don’t like spicy foods, you can sub the curry turkey for deli turkey or tropical chicken and the spicy peanut dressing for ginger dressing. Or just get an entirely different salad. You really can’t go wrong with any of the salads on the menu here.
Sanatos Healthy Market
190 Minorca Ave.
Another hole-in-the-wall is Sanatos Healthy Market. If it weren’t for the sign out on the sidewalk, you would walk right past it. Its secluded location makes it a great detour when you need to be in and out in five minutes. They have a half dozen different types of salads on the menu – like the Buda Salad (spinach, quinoa, tomatoes, mango, avocado and nuts) and the Mediterranean salad (mixed greens, grilled chicken, black olives, tomatoes, pistachios and feta cheese). But I went for the simple Farm Salad with mixed greens, grilled chicken, avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and balsamic dressing – a standard salad, perfectly executed.