There is something about the summer that makes us a little more reluctant to cook. Perhaps we crave light, refreshing lunches to pretend we are on holidays! With this in mind, I’ve scoured the city for some of Dublin’s best salads. An epic array of bright, fresh plates and bowls of garden-fresh greens that will fill you up (and cool you down) with plenty of picnic-perfect options for lunch and dinner.
Lotts & Co, 7 South Lotts Road, Dublin 4
When you step into Lotts & Co these days it’s hard to believe it was once a car showroom until the team behind Juniors & The Old Spot got hold of it. Now, it is clad top to bottom in white subway tiles and decked out with posh wooden crates, flower carts and chic industrial lighting. The store is filled with a wondrous selection of food, including a bursting salad counter with changing daily specials, ready to be matched with the mouth-watering Italian cold cuts, rotisserie meats, quiches, pies and scotch eggs.
Avoca, 11 - 13 Suffolk Street, Dublin 2 and locations countrywide
Despite Avoca being a household name and having stores all over the country, I still sometimes refer to the Suffolk Street store as a hidden gem. It’s easy to forget that, in the basement of the beautiful store, lies the classic Avoca food offering - splendid salads and all that goes with them. Grab a tray or box and load up on classics like the broccoli hazelnut and cherry tomatoes or fennel pomegranate and orange. Paired with homemade pates & terrines, seeded brown bread, their famous quiches or slices of honey baked ham.
Blazing Salads, 42 Drury Street, Dublin 2
This wholefood stalwart has been serving up delicious salads on Drury Street since 2000 and their super fresh vegan salad bar is well known for being hard to resist. Full of flavour and texture, buckwheat with roasted kale squash and adzuki is wonderful. Build your own box of salad and add on a luscious savoury bake, made fresh onsite. Grab a perch outside on Drury Street for the ultimate people watching while you soak up the sun.
This busy little spot on Dawson Street evolved from a dinky frozen yoghurt joint to a rustic, relaxed cafe with a strong vegetable focus. Daily changing seasonal salads are full of earthy Middle Eastern flavours with plenty of dukkah, zaatar and sumac featured. Choose from marvellous slow-cooked lamb, chicken and veggie-friendly falafel, hummus and lots of beans means plant-based eaters won’t go hungry.
Sprout & Co, various locations
As Sprout continues to expand (check out the new Exchequer Street spot), it’s a joy to hear they have started growing all their own leaves on a farm in Kildare. This freshly grown goodness is the base for their signature salad bowls - bright, nourishing combinations like Japanese Salmon, Paprika Chika and the irresistible Satisfied Turkey Bowl. Their cold-pressed vegetable juices will also cool you down and put a spring in your step.
While Oxmantown may be known for some of the best made-to-order sandwiches in the city, they also do a couple of salad boxes that are worth seeking out. The Lebanese Flatbread Salad is made up of bulgar wheat, figs, harissa aioli, pomegranate, hummus and yoghurt. Or try the Buddha Box packed with avocado, red quinoa, beetroot hummus, roasted chickpeas and pickled onion. Oh, and just try and ignore the dainty selection of cakes and tarts.
If you don’t believe a salad can fill you up, then you haven’t tried Cocu. Their bursting build-your-own boxes are full of tasty, nutritious delights. Middle Eastern Chicken is probably the most popular, with roasted red peppers, avocado & feta and sumac dressing. Spiced Turkey comes with crispy bacon, steamed broccoli and Sriracha yoghurt, or try the Bombay Bowl with chickpeas, tahini yoghurt, za’atar cauliflower and pomegranate. Then choose your base of sweet potato, rice or leaves and toppings of nuts, seeds or herbs. Texture and flavour are key with their bold combos - it’s no wonder both shops are out the door with queues of suits daily. Do join them, it’s worth the wait.
Nut Butter, Forbes Street, Dublin 2
This smart restaurant in the Grand Canal is a beautiful light-filled space. An Instagrammer's dream, all muted pastel interiors, geometric tabletop designs and plenty of greenery and raffia. The idea behind Nut Butter is a focus is on bigging up plant-based food but also offering choice. They have salad bowls like Kalette Caesar and Squash Cranberry & Almond and also a great lineup of poke bowls and protein bowls, all featuring plenty of kale, quinoa and avocado. A great place to try vegan favourite jackfruit which pops up in lots of dishes.
Alchemy, 5 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2
Alchemy’s high-end, designer-looking salads and delights fitted right in at BT2. Since it's closure, they have moved around the corner (ok, around the green) to Leeson Street but happily are still serving their high-end but oh-so-tasty salad boxes. The Superfood Salad is packed with spinach, blueberries, toasted chickpeas, roast sweet potato, honeyed walnuts, sprouts, lemon and goji-berry oil and the Beef Crack Salad tastes as good as it sounds. The super smoothies are divine and a brilliant alternative to the iced coffees we want to guzzle in this heat and coincidentally, you can find most of the Alchemy offerings in Joe's Coffee, spotted around town and in Kildare Village.
Kale & Coco, Eatyard, 18 Grangegorman Lower, Dublin
Starting out as a smoothie bowl pop-up, the wonderful Kale & Coco recently opened a beautiful, very Insta-worthy permanent cafe in Stoneybatter. It’s plant-based everything here with bright smoothie bowls of goodness with toppings like granola, nuts, seeds fresh fruit and even flowers. The Buddha Bowls, are colourful, enticing feeds of bright vegetables and salad and they make every superfood non-dairy latte you can imagine.
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