Atlanta is a city spoiled by a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables the South grows year-round. Sure, we live in a city full of fried chicken, cheeseburgers and mile-high pie, but the true talent in southern chefs lies in what they do with the humble produce.
Salad often gets a bad rap for being boring or heavily drowned in dressing. However, these Atlanta restaurants are quickly and deftly changing minds and turning folks, one at a time, into veg heads.
675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308; www.brezzacucina.com/
Occupying a large corner of Ponce City Market, the Adam Evans-helmed Brezza Cucina has fully captured the imagination of food lovers in Atlanta. Between the pillowy gnocchi and juicy roasted chicken, a salad has quietly become the star of the show. The kale salad is lightly dressed and topped with crushed, toasted croutons and salty parmesan. Simple. Classic. Delicious.
1361 Clairmont Rd, Decatur, GA 30033; www.communityqbbq.com/
While the owners of this famed barbeque joint often joke about being a mac ‘n cheese restaurant that serves BBQ, the care that goes into their fresh vegetable dishes is remarkable. They source everything locally and display playfulness with the veggies. Their kitchen sink salad is the perfect template for this. Local lettuce is piled with pickled mushrooms and whatever is in season. That can mean radishes, tomatoes, or spring onions. Top it with their smoked pork, if you’re feeling particularly carnivorous.
931 Monroe Dr NE a106, Atlanta, GA 30308; www.metrofreshatl.com/
This Midtown epicenter of healthy dining has always done salads well. A rotating menu offers classics and the unexpected, along with soups and sandwiches. A favorite that makes its appearance once the weather warms up, is the Mediterranean strawberry and cucumber salad with mint and feta. Sweet, salty and fresh, it is ideal salad for a muggy 90 degree day down South.
Table & Main
1028 Canton St, Roswell, GA 30075; www.tableandmain.com/
Table & Main is housed in an old southern home on Canton Street and serves some of the best southern fare around. Yes, that means fried chicken and creamy grits. However, it also means seasonal vegetables presented with restrained, but elegant, hand. Their beet salad is presented with roasted baby and pureed beets, local strawberries, rhubarb and goat cheese. The salad is topped with a poached egg, resulting in a salad that tastes fresh and decadent all at once.
740 Ralph McGill Blvd NE, Atlanta, GA 30312; www.venkmans.com/
Nick Melvin rose to fame with the pickled veggies he sold under the label Doux South. So, it’s no surprise that he knows his way around the greener things in life. His passion is evident on the menu of O4W’s Venkman’s. The avocado salad is tossed with a gently spicy ginger vinaigrette and served with cucumbers, jalapeno and pickled peanuts.