A kale salad has become the new go-to order for on-trend diners. We asked our 16,000-plus Facebook fans to nominate their favorite local versions, then restaurant reviewer Marsha Fottler, associate editor Cooper Levey-Baker and contributing food editor Judi Gallagher made the final call.
Best Overall: Michael’s On East’s Baby Kale and Brussels Sprouts
Talk about a power flavor combo: Kale and Brussels sprouts are tossed with toasted walnuts, pecorino cheese, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and Granny Smith apples, then coated in a flavorful but not overpowering lemon-mustard vinaigrette. Despite an afternoon of eating kale, our judges asked for seconds. The unanimous favorite.
Best Dressing: Louies Modern’s Modernist Kale Caesar
This salad has a cult following, and it’s easy to see why—perfectly seasoned chopped kale is tossed with anchovy, pickled onion and buttery crushed croutons. But it’s the dressing that won us over—creamy and lemony, yet light at the same time, it’s a perfect, zesty complement to the curly kale.
Best for Healthy Eaters: Beauty of Sprouts’ Massaged Kale Salad
Beauty of Sprouts in downtown Sarasota serves up vegan, organic, raw food, and its kale salad is packed full of healthy ingredients. Owner Rano Halikova massages the kale until it’s tender, then she adds in avocado, pine nuts, onion, dried tomatoes, shallots, sprouted mung beans and more. It’s not only healthy—it tastes great, too.
Best Take on a Classic: Red Clasico’s Kale Caesar
We love the idea of Caesar-izing a kale salad, and Red Clasico does exactly that, tossing baby kale with big shards of Parmesan cheese, garlicky breadcrumbs and white anchovies in a rich, creamy Caesar dressing. We’d love to enjoy this at one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables with a glass of wine.