I am not the kind of person who gets excited over salad…it’s lettuce, people. Unless of course you’re talking about the salads from Tender Greens on Sunset and Vine in Hollywood – then you’re talking about salads I crave. Normally the only way I really want to eat salad is if I make it myself. Then I have total control over texture, flavor, amount of dressing, etc. When I first moved to LA I met up with my dear friend Kristen in Culver City and the first quintessentially LA establishment she wanted to take me was Tender Greens. If salads don’t excite me, then salads purchased from restaurants REALLY don’t excite me – overpriced, underwhelming. But, not only do I trust Kristen completely, I really love any restaurant that provides crave-able healthy food. Judging by the line that stretched out the door and well into the sidewalk during lunchtime, I was guessing that I was in for just that. Kristen recommended the Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Salad – romaine, avocado, tortilla strips, queso fresco, green onion, cilantro lime dressing – and the rest is history. I get this salad every single time I go (though I have tried other items on the menu). I can’t decide what makes this place so tempting. Maybe its the fact that their chicken (and really all their meat) is cooked so perfectly – grilled and crusty, yet totally juicy. Maybe it’s because they use chicken thighs and not breasts. Perhaps its their commitment to buying everything from local farmers. Or maybe it’s simply because they have salads down – good lettuce, always the right amount of dressing, perfect blend of flavors and textures.
When I moved to Franklin Village in Hollywood after my first year in Los Angeles, I was terribly thrilled to see that they were opening a location on Sunset within walking distance of my place. I immediately brought my roommate and got her on the TG train (as I like to call it). But there was something new at this location I was not expecting to find: the best fried chicken on earth. No, I’m not kidding. Boneless, juicy, salty, crunchy, buttermilk-marinated fried chicken. Seriously. Yes, this will sabotage any healthy mission you might be on, but one must indulge from time to time. They have a Southern Fried Chicken Salad, but I have to say I tried it and it didn’t woo me. For me, the best way to experience the fried chicken is as a side. They give you two big pieces for $5 and you can share it with friends… or gluttonously devour it alongside your gigantic salad, which I did yesterday. Classy.
Speaking of price, I have to confess that this is not an entirely wallet-friendly establishment, at least not for my budget. The salad I always get is $11, which isn’t terrible on its own. Add a drink, a cowboy cookie (coconut, chocolate chip, walnuts – get it), and tax, and you’ve spent over $15. Of course its worth it, but for the starving artist, that is not an amount of money you want to be spending numerous times per week or even once a week. The upside is that there is no table service, so you don’t have to worry about adding tip on top of that already gouging Los Angeles meal tax. Still, I have spent over $20 here numerous times without batting an eye. Then again, if you’re being frugal and healthy you’ll order just a salad and bring your water bottle… but where’s the fun in that?
While I love my chicken salad, there is plenty more worth trying here. I’ve already mentioned the cowboy cookie (seriously, get one). My roommate always gets their cobb, my friend Eric is addicted to their tuna nicoise (I swear you won’t find better grilled ahi anywhere), and I’ve even tried their Happy Vegan, which is hearty and satisfying. Whatever you find yourself cozying up to on their menu, it will surely have you coming back again and again… for a salad… who knew?
6920 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles 90028
What healthy foods do you crave and where do you get them? I want to know!