Salads utilize different types of leafy greens to create a fresh, crisp meal rivaling burgers and fries of the restaurant world. There is one type of salad green, however, that you should always avoid ordering at restaurants—iceberg lettuce.
Yes, iceberg salads are a reliable mainstay on menus because the main ingredient is cheap, always available, and has a long shelf life, according to Jeremy Adler, a Los Angeles based culinary expert, restaurant consultant, and co-creator of Lanea. But it’s one of the menu items to avoid ordering because you’re paying too much for a flavorless ingredient that’s 95 percent water. “It’s just an overpriced salad meant to make money for the restaurant,” says Matthew McPherson, a chef out of Boston, Massachusetts, and creator of The Noodle Bar. Plus, if restaurants don’t wash the lettuce thoroughly, there could be health consequences.
Don’t pay too much for one of the most boring items on the menu. Instead, Adler and McPherson both recommend opting for seasonal salads with local ingredients, when possible. Brian Poe, the chef, and owner of Bukowski Tavern in Cambridge, Massachusetts, suggests seasonal greens too, but he’s not fully anti-iceberg. “I believe it serves a purpose in nostalgic cuisine, and all ingredients deserve a time and place,” he says. “For the common food deserts of the nation, iceberg lettuce is one of the most approachable, nostalgic, price-point, and easy-sell lettuces.” So don’t feel too bad if you do decide to go with this dish, even if it isn’t the best thing to order. Another type of salad is also one of the fast-food items you should never order.