Salad Days

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Menus Issue: August 2015

Food Bar at Whole Foods TempeBack in the day, salad bars were a big part of the dining landscape. Restaurants featured sprawling spreads of vegetables, fruits, assorted proteins, toppings and tubs of salad dressing nestled in ice. Salad bars are still around, but today you’re more likely to find them in upscale supermarkets than a restaurant.

Several Valley grocers feature knockout salad bars where you can load up a take-out container and dine at home. The only downside: You can’t go back for seconds.

Whole Foods Market sets the gold standard when it comes to salad bars. They actually refer to them as “food bars,” because they stock them with a lot more than just traditional salad bar items. For $8.99 per pound ($7.49 on Wednesdays), you can heap your compostable container with five different greens, around 20 vegetables and fruits, five or so proteins and about two dozen specialty items, including falafel, dolmas, baba ghanoush and tabbouleh.

At AJ’s Fine Foods, you’ll find an assortment of all the usual suspects – stainless steel bowls brimming with greens, fruits, vegetables, proteins, assorted beans and eight salad dressings, including a portobello mushroom vinaigrette for $7.99 per pound.

Fry’s Marketplace (or the “Fancy Fry’s” as it’s referred to by many) offers the best price of the three supermarkets - $6.99 per pound. Here you’ll find twelve protein choices, including bacon and pepperoni, four different greens, a slew of vegetables, fruits and other toppings, plus eight bottled salad dressings. Fry’s has a separate food bar.