Gainesville's 2014 leafy green lunchstop list
By Kim Harris, GLOB Guest Columnist
EDITOR's NOTE: Say Hello to vegetarian, and lover of all things green, Kim Harris. Kim will be writing Gainesville Greens occasionally covering not only the leafy green side of lunch, but other topics of interest that will lead all GLOBers to a more healthy approach to diet, a healthy lifestyle, and lunch. Kim has been a vegetarian close to 25 years . Ms. Harris' looks forward to sharing her approach to her take on lunchtime salads, smart living, and a positive look at all things good for our bodies.
It’s a new year and a lot of people have a resolution to lose a few pounds, eat healthier, or maybe include more meatless meals in their diet during 2014. Salads are the often the first options people think of when making these kinds of changes. To help you get started, I’m going to share my favorite local salads, in no particular order:
Designer Greens– For a variety of salads, go to Designer Greens where you can order a half or whole bowl of fresh salad. I can personally recommend the Waldorf, Shanghai, and Greek Salads, but they also make custom salads with a romaine or spring mix base and your choice of three or five of about 30 toppings, as well as your favorite dressing. Their hummus and pita is not bad either. It’s a small place, though, so get there early if you want a table. See image at the top of this feature.
Jason’s Deli – For a traditional salad bar, I really like Jason’s. They have artichoke hearts! There are lots of other items to choose from, several of which are organic, all of which are yummy; plus, they have freshly-made mini-muffins. You can also add animal protein like tuna salad or grilled chicken for an additional price to your custom made salad. (Bonus: Jason’s offers plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free lunch options. It’s one of the only places in town where you can always get truly vegetarian soups.)
Vellos Historic Brickstreet Grill – A wedge salad is not necessarily the most nutritious of salads, but it’s darn good. Vellos has improved upon the traditional version. Theirs provides an extra kick that you don’t usually get from a wedge AND it’s made with romaine lettuce instead of iceberg, and includes cucumber, tomato, and bacon, in addition to the usual lettuce, blue cheese, and dressing.
Heavenly Ham – This popular lunch destination isn’t just for ham lovers. A Heavenly Ham employee will make your salad according to your preferences: romaine lettuce, spinach, or spring mix for the base and up to 25 topping options, plus one of eleven dressings. You get a generous, custom salad and a hunk of fresh bread. They also offer a half salad to pair with a half sandwich or cup of soup.
Outback Steakhouse – OK, this is kind of unfair to include because Outback is only open for lunch on Fridays and weekends, but this is truly one of my all-time favorite salads. It’s the Blue Cheese Pecan Chopped Salad; it’s got a tangy-sweet flavor and satisfying crunch and can be ordered as a side or an entrée salad.
According to the GLOB Master there are over 240 places to eat lunch in Gainesville. That must mean there are lots of salads out there in the GLOB. I challenge you to go in search of your favorites in 2014, report back, and add a comment below this column letting GLOBers know where you go for your Gainesville Greens!