Wrestling with what you want to eat versus what you should eat is one of life’s least enjoyable activities. Sure you could commit to a green salad everyday for lunch, but as much as you pretend to enjoy your less-than-two-hundred calorie bowl of health, you know deep down the entire meal has a similar flavour profile to a tissue. On the other end of the spectrum, fast food can leave a waft of regret and empty diet promises.
So to fix all your problems (yet again), we’ve put together a list of the best non-lettuce salads in Melbourne! From potato salad to spicy BBQ pork, there won’t be any tasteless greens or boring dressings here. Warning: this list is not suitable for Listers on a diet.
The Build Your Own Salad
Patch Café, Richmond
A dog-friendly café, four-legged friends impatiently wait for leftovers outside one of Melbourne’s best healthy cafes. No one, not even the most carnivorous pet, seems to mind Patch’s paleo ethos. There’s a lot of genuine labour that goes into building Patch Café’s all natural, paleo-friendly Build Your Own Salad, but eating here is hardly hard work. Featuring cauliflower rice, radicchio and red radish, add grass fed steak or your favourite protein to Patch’s salad. You can have your steak and eat it too.
Serotonin Eatery, Burnley
Like the carrot and hummus recess you had as a kid, only a hundred times better. Richmond’s favourite feel good café, the menu features nutritious meals your mother would love to see you eat everyday. Unlike some of the greens you loathed as a child, adult-you will trill at Serotonin Eatery’s Nutrition Bomb, a combination of poached egg, broccoli, house-made hummus, cold roast veggies, nuts and seeds. Swings are complimentary.
Pan-fried Tasmanian Salmon Insalata
Rococo, St Kilda
We can't get enough of St Kilda restaurant Rococo's delicious Tasmanian salmon salad, which comes with juicy marinaded olives, Mediterranean vegetables, salsa verde, balsamic onions and a house shallot dressing. The salmon is always cooked to perfection, and nothing beats heaps of fresh veggies that are perfectly dressed in a typical Italian fashion. Bellissimo!
Coconut poached chicken salad
Tom Phat, Brunswick
The flavours of Thailand all rolled into one happily light salad. If you’re hunting for Asian food sans the extra fats and oil, Tom Phat’s coconut poached chicken salad with cashews, herbs, bean shoots and roasted chilli dressing will go down a treat. We guarantee there won’t be any food envy on your part. Tom Phat’s salad is piled so high with fresh herbs and veggies, you’ll be far too distracted by your own miniature mountain of coconut chicken to notice anyone else’s curry.
Goz City, CBD
Potato salad –l ike the awkward kid who doesn’t quite fit in – is neither a fully-fledged salad nor a fully-fledged meal. Never fear, the outcast potatoes have found a humble home at Goz City. Known for some of the best gozlemes in Melbourne, this teensy restaurant dishes out creamy potato gherkin salad by the tub during lunch hour. Since you’re technically only having salad for lunch, you might as well get a large.
Raw zucchini pasta salad
Hunters Roots, CBD
One of Melbourne’s best healthy-eating cafes, Hunters Roots, specialises in gloriously satisfying raw, organic dishes. Proving not all salads need to be beefed up with leafy greens, Hunters Roots’ zucchini pasta salad is tasty enough to eat on your designated cheat day. Julienned carrots, zucchini, seaweed and their house-made creamy tahini dressing will put a spring in your step for the rest of the afternoon. We doubt you’ll need that 3pm pick-me-up today, but just in case, you might as well get a raw caramel slice to go.
Spicy BBQ pork rice noodle bowl
Paperboy Kitchen, CBD
Paperboy Kitchen is spicing up CBD lunches everywhere. Start with a rice noodle bowl with Asian slaw, carrot-daikon pickle, sriracha-mayo and coriander. Choose your favourite protein to top it off, although if you’re looking lost we’ll nudge you towards the spicy BBQ pork. Marinated with chilli, spring onion and sesame oil, these tender babes will have you gobbling vegetables like never before.
Grilled chicken salad
Fonda, various locations
It’s pretty much a burrito without the tortilla and thick sauces, but look, if someone’s offering us a Mexican-tasting dish that’s passable as a salad, we ain’t gonna refuse. The best of both worlds, Fonda’s grilled chicken ensalada (Spanish for salad) is a generous mix of quinoa, black beans, coriander, fresh corn, sweet potato, minted peas, dressed with lemon vinaigrette. Despite choosing the salad option, you might find yourself with an unexpected food baby. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Californian super salad
If you’re searching for a post-exercise salad but don’t want to wait for hours in some of Melbourne’s inner cafes, Barry has some bright, sinfully tasty choices. Declaring itself a non-salad salad from the get go, Barry’s Californian super salad is generously lathered in creamy shaved ricotta. Think of it as a soft cheesy blanket for your salad. Tri-coloured quinoa, wild organic rice, charred corn and heirloom tomatoes are some of the hidden gems in this treasure chest. Dig around–there’s plenty to find in this salad in disguise.
Salmon and green tea soba noodle salad
Charlie Dumpling, Windsor
If it’s green, it has got to be good for you – and Charlie Dumpling's soba noodles are a mellow lime thanks to the addition of green tea. Kuromitsu salmon, green tea soba noodles, radish, miso and wasabi peas are tossed together to create one delicious bowl of Japanese happiness. Known as one of Melbourne’s best dumpling houses, if you’re in Windsor and looking for something light on the belly Charlie Dumpling is an excellent choice.
Super food salad
Earl Canteen, various locations
Built on a reputation for fresh, high quality produce, you won’t spot any neglected greens here. One of Melbourne’s favourite healthy takeaway cafes, grab yourself an Earl Canteen Super Food Salad when you’re feeling ravenous. Stuffed with red quinoa, giant couscous, crunchy broccoli, cranberries, parsley and mint, it’s a challenge to smash through the whole lot in one sitting. And because the Earl team know how lazy we get during office hours, there’s an Earl Canteen in almost every corner of the city. Genius.
Image credit: Fonda via Facebook