While some thought the “soup and salad” craze created by salad bar restaurant chains was just one of the countless diet fads, many of the chains have disappeared, but not people’s love for the pair. Lighter fare options like soup and salad are still very popular and a healthy option, especially when pressed for time at lunch. Skipping many of the carbs also helps keep you powering through the rest of the day, avoiding that mid-afternoon crash so many of us are prone to. If you’re looking to skip the chain salad bar restaurants, check out these unique Sacramento soup and salad spots.
Muntean’s Soups Salads Sandwiches
1225 J St
Sacramento, CA 95814
As the name aptly denotes, Muntean’s specializes in soups, salads and sandwiches. What you may not realize is it’s a good idea to peruse the menu online first if you have never been, otherwise you may need to take a longer lunch hour. Only open Monday through Friday, this is a definite hit with the downtown Sacramento work crowd looking for a quality soup and salad lunch option.
Each day, the restaurant features 10 different soups, all homemade by Mr. George Muntean, Sr. Specialties include Romanian Mulligatoni, Broccoli Corn, Roasted Fire Tomato, Hungarian Chicken Stew and Seafood Gumbo. Vegetarians will delight in the number of daily offerings that are meatless. While the soup is really the star at Muntean’s, the family offers a great selection of salads as well — from simple garden salads up to specialty options like falafel, avocado and even Greek chicken or beef gyro salads.
Related: Best Vegetarian Spots in Sacramento
La Bonne Soupe Cafe
920 8th St
Sacramento, CA 95814
This little gem earned quite a reputation while French chef Daniel Pont owned and operated it for six years. Pont’s signature French Onion soup was rated as best in the world by Zagat back in 2009. Pont, who is in his early 70s now, sold the cafe to Chef Ed Stoddard and his fiance back in 2011. The couple has strived to maintain the same gastronomic experience patrons enjoyed under Pont and still offers a menu of salads and soups that includes some French specialties. While the menu may look nearly identical to Pont’s, there are many offerings that are slight variations on classics that earned La Bonne such a loyal following.
The best thing about La Bonne is that Stoddard kept Pont’s position as a “locavore” alive and well. He has remained committed to eating locally and sourcing organic produce and local meats when possible, which is about 90% of the time. The Creamy Mushroom soup and Pumpkin Passionfruit are both a must try. The salads remain fairly simple, but when paired with a unique soup, make for the ultimate meal.
3535 Fair Oaks Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95864
Another spot for good French Onion soup is Danielle’s Creperie in the Arden-Arcade area. Danielle’s offers a 10-ounce and 16-ounce French Onion soup topped with gouda cheese that comes out still sizzling. You can also try the soup of the day, which can be paired with a petite salad. The salads at Danielle’s are quite delicious and include everything from a Caesar Salad to Salad Nicoise with Chicken. One favorite is Danielle’s Tuna Salad with albacore white tuna, red onions, celery, toasted almonds, red seedless grapes and light mayonnaise with dilled new potatoes.
Jack’s Urban Eats
1230 20th St
Sacramento, CA 95814
While soup is king at Muntean’s, salads reign supreme at Jack’s Urban Eats. A favorite among Sacramento locals, Jack’s Urban Eats has several locations throughout greater Sacramento and is the spot if you want a huge selection of salads. Jack’s has everything from Caesar salads to Spicy Buffalo, Western BBQ Steak and Chinese Chicken Salad. The newest offering is Thai Prawn Salad with grilled prawns, soba noodles, roasted cashews, cucumber, carrots, mixed greens, bean sprouts, cilantro and mint with Thai sesame vinaigrette. One of the cool options at Jack’s is the ability to make your own salad — choose your greens, your dressing and various toppings to make a truly individualized plate. And don’t fret, Jack’s Urban Eats does offer soup — each location has a “soup of the day” that you can add on to your greens.
Related: Best Delis in Sacramento
2573 Fair Oaks Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95823
With locations in both Sacramento and Roseville, Boudin SF is the place to get your sourdough bread bowl fix. The legendary Boudin Bakery from San Francisco has “Boudin SF” outlets that serve sensational soups and salads. Several salads to try include the Mediterranean, Thai Citrus Chicken or The Waldorf. Or warm up with chili or one of Boudin’s special soups of the day, both served in the signature sourdough bowls, for a hearty meal. Boudin SF also offers a combo where you can order a half entree-size salad and soup (or chili for an extra dollar) in a bread bowl to sample both the Boudin family’s signature soups and gourmet salads ($8.95).
Erin De Santiago is a freelance travel and food/wine writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. She is a regional membership coordinator for the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and writes for a number of publications in addition to publishing her own blogs. She has traveled to over 40 countries on five continents in search of the best food and wine around the globe. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.