Plenty of restaurant owners do not consider salads a specific draw, but more of a must-have category, on the menu to ward off complaints. For them, green and crisp and cool are enough, with no reason to make salads anything more than the menu's generic character actors.
But in the depth of summer, here's a nod to a few places that are making salads stars.
Garden salad ($9) from Black Iron Bystro
3648 South Park Ave., Blasdell, 240-9830
Bryan Mecozzi's garden salad earns the name honestly. Most of the changing cast of greens, herbs and edible flowers are only hours old, snipped before service from his restaurant plot. Yarrow, Vietnamese cilantro, peppery nasturtiums and various mints, plus pickled vegetables, are dressed with grapefruit-apple cider vinaigrette.
[RELATED: See Sharon Cantillon's summer-y salad photos]
Summer Fling ($16) from The Poppyseed
3670 McKinley Parkway, 824-0075
At a restaurant known for substantial dinner salads, Sherry Biscaro offers this summer special. It offers the crunch of puffed quinoa and pistachios, strawberries and on a mandarin orange segments and shredded mozzarella cheese on a bed of arugula, with choice of housemade dressing. Julienned sirloin cooked to order tops it off.
Thai noodle salad ($13) from Betty's
370 Virginia St., 362-0633
Among ethnic accents on the vegan-friendly menu is this meal-sized salad inspired by Thai cuisine. Greens are topped with rice noodles, cucumber, radish, carrot and red onion, then cilantro, mint, scallion and roasted peanuts. Dressing powered by fresh lime juice, garlic, ginger and chili provides the finishing touch.
Fatoush ($11) from 755 Restaurant & Lounge
755 W. Market St., Niagara Falls, 205-8969
Hidden in the City Market, the best Lebanese restaurant in Western New York offers fatoush worth the drive. Impeccably fresh romaine, cucumber, radish, parsley, tomato, onion and mint, topped with sumac and crunchy pita chips, is dressed in fresh lemon and olive oil. The first bite is a harbinger of Lebanese excellence to come.
Farmer's Market ($11) from Craving
1472 Hertel Ave., 883-1675
Adam Goetz, proud of presenting local farms' work, offers Plato Dale greens, which includes mizuna, purslane and radicchio. They're augmented with pickled vegetables, made-to-order croutons from housemade bread and dressed with a green goddess dressing of fresh herbs and housemade mayonnaise.
Horiatiki ($8.39) from Kostas
1561 Hertel Ave., 838-5225
In Greece, the standard salad uses little or no lettuce, said Elia Pozantidis, Kostas' co-owner. A Greek salad that Greeks would recognize is "village salad." His version has cucumber, tomato, green pepper, Greek olives, pepperoncini, oregano and feta cheese. Apply Greek dressing or, traditionally, extra-virgin Greek olive oil and vinegar.
Moroccan falafel salad ($10.95) from Café 59
62 Allen St., 883-1880
A meal-sized salad that doesn't rely on meat for heft, this falafel-topped special has been pushed onto the regular menu by popular demand. Greens are joined by roasted carrots, a scoop of housemade tabbouleh, and a dusting of housemade Moroccan spice. Greek vinaigrette and Greek yogurt arrive on the side, be applied as desired.
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