Think salad is boring? Think again. Keep things fresh, nutritious and downright delicious with these top picks.
So long, limp lettuce and farewell, tasteless tomato – it’s time to usher in a new era of super salad in Leeds. Eating well needn’t be a bore, so whether you’re after maximum nutrition, a sin-free snack or a hearty filler that won’t weigh you down, the city has the perfect salad for you. The fact a leafy lunch is quick, affordable and can be turbo-charged with a bucketload of delicious extras? Bonus.
1. The salad bowl at Humpit
We all know that a bowl of creamy hummus demands a good dipping, but this little outlet in the Corn Exchange takes chickpea fever to a whole new level. Here you can chomp through a salad bowl topped with chunky falafel balls, spiced chickpeas and, of course, lashings of hummus.
And the salad itself is a far cry from the standard ‘mixed green’ fare you might expect. Customise ’til your tastebuds are singing with the likes of mixed pickles, spicy salsa, tahini covered cauliflower and mushrooms with onion. The special toppings change regularly, which means there’s something new to discover every visit. You’ll be stuffed afterwards, but trust us, you’ll want to hump again in no time.
Humpit, Leeds Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BR. Salad bowl costs £5 to takeaway or £6 to eat in.
2. DIY cauliflower and kale bowl at Rola Wall
For a salad in Leeds that allows you to really flex those creative muscles, hotfoot it to Rola Wala at the top of Trinity Leeds. Everything this Indian street food favourite does is fuelled by flavour and their salad is no exception. The cauliflower ‘rice’ bowl is your low-carb, high-fibre excuse to go wild on a giddy range of enticing toppings.
Keep things vegan with creamy beetroot dal and Keralan cauliflower, or let the grilled chicken tikka, Goan roast pork, Nagaland lamb or Bengali spiced beef pack your lunch with a meaty punch. Extra paneer is a must for anyone in their right mind (vegans, you’re excused), while the aptly-named scorpion chilli jam has a welcome sting in its tail.
Rola Wala, Trinity Kitchen, 27 Albion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5AT. Cauliflower bowl costs £6.45 and beef and lamb toppings carry a 50p supplement.
3. Crispy duck & watermelon salad at Banyan
Can’t make up your mind whether you’re in the mood for sweet, sour or savoury? No matter, simply opt for the duck and watermelon salad at this trendy international restaurant instead. Banyan are masters at bringing the best flavours from around the globe together for a party in your mouth.
Leafy pak choi is the carrier for all sorts of goodies, including sweet pomegranate seeds and juicy watermelon slices, toasted cashews, crunchy spring onion and lashings of sticky honey and soy sauce. But the real delight is in mining out those crispy nuggets of salty duck as you devour the dish – the perfect reward for an otherwise virtuous choice.
Banyan, Toronto Square, 2 City Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2ES. Crispy duck and watermelon salad costs £11.25.
4. Tomato, Whipped Sesame Tofu & Crispy Rice Salad at Issho
Japanese may not be the first cuisine that springs to mind when your body’s gagging for a fresh salad, but Issho might surprise you. Hidden away on the menu among the maki rolls, bao buns and sashimi platters is an inspired choice – a tomato salad. Pretty bog standard, right? Wrong. Not the way these guys do it.
They’ve taken a familiar trio of ingredients – tomatoes, tofu and rice – and turned them into something rather special. Peeled (yes, peeled!) and sherry-soaked tomatoes provide a burst of acid sweetness, while the tofu has been whipped so far into oblivion it’s transformed into a deeply savoury vegan cream cheese. And the rice? It’s puffed, giving your mouthful a welcome crunch and pop. A harmony of texture and flavour, it’s the big daddy of tomato salads and not to be missed.
Issho, Victoria Gate, George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7AU. Tomato salad costs £8.50.
5. Create-your-own salad at Chop’d
If you’ve got a hankering for a very specific kinda salad in Leeds, you’ll almost certainly find what you’re looking for at Chop’d. Wraps and stews are on offer here too, but the salad is king. And the DIY salad bar where you can choose from over 40 fresh ingredients to build the lunch of your dreams? That steals the crown.
Pick a base, top it with three veggies, treat yourself to a deli item then sprinkle over your favourite garnishes. It’s oh-so-simple if you know what you want. But it’s easy to be swayed when faced with tempting morsels like Moroccan couscous, sun-dried tomatoes, hot smoked salmon, feta, toasted walnuts and blue cheese dressing. The power is in your hands – will you go for naughty or nice?
Chop’d, Central Square, Whitehall Road East, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4HG. Create-your-own salad costs £5.75 for a small or £6.75 for a regular.
6. Superfood salad at Sociable Folk
Speedy salads are a must in Leeds’ busy Financial Quarter, but a lunch-on-the-go shouldn’t mean a compromise on quality. Luckily, you’ve got Sociable Folk on your doorstep. The snaking queue of a lunchtime is a telling sign that this cafe’s salads are right up to scratch. But don’t worry, the line moves fast enough and you’ll have your hands on a superfood salad in no time.
This beauty is bright, bold and a bit of a bargain too. Full of leafy goodness, you’ll also find a cascade of peas, squash and chickpeas in there – and that’s just the base! You also get to choose the protein you want, from spicy chicken to crumbly feta, as well as a yummy selection of dressings. And if you’re in desperate need of a carb kick, you can make the base hot satay or sesame noodles instead.
Sociable Folk, 10 Wellington Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4JP. Salads cost £4.50 to takeaway or £5 to eat in.
7. Glow bowl at Bill’s
Imagine a salad so laden with fresh vegetables, sauces and sides that it doesn’t just meet your five-a-day, it completely smashes it out of the ballpark. Plus a couple of extra portions to boot. Welcome to the glow bowl at Bill’s, a total triumph of flavour, texture and nutritional balance in one single salad.
Get your crunch from tender stem broccoli, creaminess from red pepper tapenade, tartness from pickled red cabbage and sweetness from roasted butternut squash. And that’s before you’ve even dug your way through to the grains, hummus, spinach, falafel and flatbread tucked away below. Top it all off with sticky miso dressing and you have yourself one hell of a feast. Still not enough? Add on grilled chicken skewers or halloumi if your stomach can handle it.
Bill’s, 1 Albion Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6JL. Glow bowl costs £11.95.
8. Salad bar at Sesame
Need a scrumptious salad bar on the fly? Track down this little deli on the corner of Park Square and go to town on their colourful display of 20 or so salad ingredients. And we’re not talking soggy spinach or lifeless lettuce. Feast on the likes of buckwheat noodles, three bean salad, chilli broccoli, salmon teriyaki, roasted courgette and some of the most humungous falafel balls around.
You can eat in if you want, but it’s just as easy to get it all stuffed into a takeaway box (they fill it right to the brim) to gobble up at your leisure. You may even find yourself with leftovers for dinner. Big old salad, little old price.
Sesame, 18 St Paul’s Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2LE. Small box costs £3.90, medium box costs £4.90 and large box costs £5.90.
9. Smoked salmon and poached egg salad at The Good Luck Club
A classy and cool restaurant with a focus on big chunks of meat sizzled over the charcoal grill, you may think The Good Luck Club is better for salad dodgers than salad seekers. But you’d be wrong, because their tasty trio of salads get the red-hot treatment on the grill too.
The smoked salmon salad comes with broccoli, asparagus spears and red onion, all sweetly charred from their time over the fire. Marry that fish and veg with mixed leaves, sharp vinaigrette dressing and an oozy poached egg that bursts at the slightest touch, and you may be tempted to start barbecuing all your salads from now on. Steak? Never heard of it.
The Good Luck Club, 6 Wellington Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4AP. Smoked salmon salad costs £9.
10. Som tum ‘papaya’ salad at Sukhothai
Even nutritional nay-sayers have a hard time turning their nose up at Thai salads. So zesty, flavourful and light – they tend to swap out raw vegetables in favour of something a little heartier, like noodles or seafood. They’re a joy to eat and you can find some of the best Thai salads at Sukhothai in Leeds.
Case in point – the som tum salad. Don’t let the shredded papaya fool you, this blighter has a serious chilli kick. Plus cooling carrot and tomato, dried shrimp and crunchy peanuts. But wait, we’re not done yet, because you have a choice to make. Will you crown yours with 22 juicy king prawns or crispy soft shell crab? Lots of bite and no sogginess in sight, it’s winner winner, super salad dinner.
Sukhothai, 15 South Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5QS. Som tum salad costs £13.95 with prawn or crab or £7.95 without.Cover image credit: © Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Ali Turner