As most Washingtonians have noticed, salad places keep popping up all over town and they all claim to have the best ingredients, but in my opinion Sweetgreen wins the salad war hands down. I am lucky enough to live above the Sweetgreen in Logan Circle and I am a regular as I like to go and snag a salad for dinner on my way home from the gym. I think Sweetgreen really takes the cake because the ingredients are incredibly unique, always uber fresh, and they are constantly changing the menu to keep things new and exciting. Also, Sweetgreen brings in organic foods from local farms and also compliments their great salad options with the delicious Sweetflow which is their tart frozen yogurt.
I am a huge fan of the Chic P salad which consists of mesclun & baby spinach with baked falafel, chickpeas, cucumbers, roasted peppers, garlic pita chips and then topped with a lemon hummus tahini dressing. The Mediterranean flavor profile of this salad is sophisticated and scrumptious, and I really cannot get enough of that baked falafel. I have contemplated going in there and just getting the falafel on its own to put on other concoctions I make at home. It’s the perfect protein addition to any salad—especially for those vegetarians out there. Also I know many people enjoy the Guacamole Greens which is essentially a deconstructed guacamole presented in a salad format. How could that be bad? Finally, one of the best options at Sweetgreen is to wrap up your salad in a toasted wheat tortilla if you are in the mood for a little more heft, but not to worry, it's still a great healthy option.
While I love the salad options on the menu, I am a die hard fan of my custom salad that I think is brilliantly built (I spent most of last weekend at the beach complaining that there was no Sweetgreen and telling my friends how I had created the perfect make your own salad). So here goes: romaine, red tomatoes, white beans, quinoa (great unique offering at Sweetgreen that you can’t find elsewhere), slivered almonds, goat cheese, baked falafel and balsamic vinaigrette. I honestly feel ultra proud of this creation as it takes a lot of trial and error to find the perfect mix, but I know that I have hit a home run with this one. If by some chance Sweetgreen is reading this and wants to add it to their menu, I say we call it the Eastern Shore. I dream about this salad while I am at a work, and then have my eyes on the prize the entire time I am exercising at VIDA. This is my reward after a long hard day and a great workout. And then sometimes a few hours later in the evening I pop back in for a frozen yogurt with granola, chocolate chips, and strawberries (three toppings are included).
Okay, okay... so you know I love Sweetgreen. This leads me to why the other options like Chop't and Mixt Greens seem to fall a little short. I am often perplexed by the long lines outside of Chop’t by my office in Metro Center around lunchtime. I find that while there are a lot of choices on the menu, none of them are all that exciting. Also, the dressings are underwhelming and they often soak the salads leaving the lettuce quite soggy. I also find the entire experience to be assembly line "esque" and if I am going to wait in line for 20 minutes, I want to be wowed.
I really like Mixt Greens. I think their choices are different and I have greatly enjoyed the Madison which includes mixt greens, herb marinated grilled chicken, asparagus, roasted white-truffle potatoes, shaved parmesan, toasted pine nuts and whole grain mustard vinaigrette (which I substitute for balsamic). However, my biggest complaint about Mixt Greens is that they have picked very businessy locations that are not in places that anyone would frequent over the weekend. There is no neighborhood feel to their establishments and of course there is no frozen yogurt here or at Chop't.
I think the most compelling difference between Sweetgreen and the others is that it was created by three local Georgetown students and is a homegrown business here in the DC area while the others are national chains. There is something special about the story and that it has roots here in Washington even as it continues to grow. So I know this is not a very scientific approach to weighing the pros and cons of the salad options in DC, but I have to say that Sweetgreen is my favorite and the winner in my book. Now I just need to figure out how to get my salad creation on the menu...