In the restaurant world, the salad used to be considered an eye-roll order and a throwaway dish. But as customer demand for better options has risen in recent years, chefs have smartened up and started putting more thought into that ubiquitous pile of greens. In recent weeks, I’ve had three salads that define this new wave:

Brider‘s roasted sweet potato and avocado (pictured) with toasted peanuts, cucumber, and Thai dressing

Cho77‘s Saigon salad wtih mandoline-thin plums, arugula, toasted peanuts, green papaya, rice paper, and a poached egg

Telegraph‘s mixed greens with toasted pecans, kabocha squash, sheep’s feta, and pomegranate-lime vinaigrette

The key to these three offerings is the layering of flavor and texture that keeps the diner’s interest until the last bite. Brider’s generous bowl juxtaposes al dente sweet potato with smooth avocado and a liberal sprinkling of crunchy peanuts. Cho77’s salad has shattered pieces of rice paper tossed throughout, which then soak up the dressing and become slightly chewy. Telegraph’s toasted pecans play off the soft roasted squash and mild cheese (this salad also benefits from the addition of fish or chicken).

With spring finally here, seek out these options for a lighter, but still interesting and satisfying, meal.

Bonus: Check out the inspiration behind Work & Class’ Massive Attack salad.

Brider, 1644 Platte St., 303-455-3084

Cho77, 42 S. Broadway, 720-638-8179

Telegraph, 295 S. Pennyslvania St., 720-440-9846

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.