A Crispy Quest for the Best – All Hail Denver’s Top Caesar Salads

Photo courtesy of A5 Steakhouse on Facebook

On a busy July 4th in 1924 – Caesar Cardini – an Italian immigrant and restaurateur was credited with inventing the Caesar salad in Tijuana, Mexico. It’s the most basic salad with limited ingredients yet one of the toughest to master. He took whatever was left from a busy rush and created the epic salad we know and love today. So, even while a bad Caesar is still probably a ‘good’ salad – they are not all created equal. Here is a rundown on the best Caesar salads Denver has to offer.

Pony Up

What’s In It: Crispy romaine, roasted garlic dressing, 8-minute croutons

Why We Love It: The beauty of Pony Up’s 8-minute crouton is the fact that they’re both crunchy, chewy, perfectly seasoned and hold onto the garlic, mustard and lemon-packed dressing. This Caesar is crunchy, salty, and hands down satisfying. It also makes you feel less guilty before housing a French dip, just saying.

Quality Italian

What’s In It: Little Gem lettuce, cured lemon, sesame breadcrumbs

Why We Love It: Quality Italian uses crisp and crunchy little gems that are mild and sweet – dressed in a classic creamy dressing with hints of anchovy, garlic and parmesan. This umami base is heightened with bright and tangy citrus notes from the cured lemon, while the sesame breadcrumbs add a nutty, toasty flavor with a satisfying crunch. It’s kind of sophisticated, really – pasta’s trusted companion.

Steakhouse No 316

What’s In It: Baby romaine, white anchovy, croutons, parmesan

Why We Love It: Although this Caesar hails from Boulder, Steakhouse No 316 makes the list first and foremost for the table side effort. Made from scratch – dressing and all – it is an experience of behind-the-scenes quality. The fresh ingredients meld in front of your eyes for a tangy, yet salty and creamy surprise salad pairing perfectly with the expected crunch. Bring a friend – the show is for two people or more only. Treat yourself to the seafood plateau afterward.

Farm and Market

What’s In It: Red romaine, Newham Bibb lettuce, grilled chicken breast, croutons, grated parmesan, capers, shaved shallot, Caesar dressing and basil pesto

Why We Love It: Cleverly named “Here’s the Caesar, this salad at Farm and Market makes the list for its unique additions to the traditional Caesar. Capers present tiny, briny little bursts of salt while the basil pesto brings a fresh, herbaceous and slightly nutty taste that enhances the depth of flavors in each bite. This version is also served with chicken breast – making it a satisfying choice even for dinner.

Hey Kiddo

Photo courtesy of Hey Kiddo

What’s In It: Romaine, candied anchovy, 2-year parmesan, pistachio

Why We Love It: Who knew a simple Caesar could reflect a no-waste mentality? Hey Kiddo did. It uses Sicilian anchovies and a house-made blood orange kosho – pepper – crafted from citrus rind waste from its bar, chilis and salt. After fermenting for 4-5 days it is added to the dressing. The salad is topped with candied anchovies and pistachios that provide a sweet and salty twist creating a complex yet harmonious flavor experience without losing that satisfying crunch.

Oliver’s Italian

What’s In It: Tuscan kale, Parmigiano Reggiano, croutons, white anchovy, cherry peppers

Why We Love It: The Caesar dressing at Oliver’s is dense – providing the perfect coat to the crispy Tuscan kale used in its version. The addition of white anchovy filets on top and cherry drop peppers adds a savory, salty and sweet combo like a little party in your mouth – while the slice of pinsa bread helps scoop it all up. Crunch, pop and yum.

Woodie Fisher

What’s In It: Grilled gem lettuce, Grana Padano, lemon, sourdough crisp

Why We Love It: It’s not often anybody is grilling lettuce that still tastes good while holding its crunch, but Woodie Fisher figured it out for a truly delightful take on the Caesar. The grilling provides a slight char and a smoky depth that contracts effortlessly with the fresh, zesty lemon and savory, nutty Grana Padano cheese. The sourdough crisp enhances the overall crunch of the salad for truly vibrant bites.

A5 Steakhouse

What’s In It: Little gems, spicy anchovy dressing, torn croutons, cured egg yolk, poached egg, and Parmigiano

Why We Love It: Honestly, what’s not to love here? The Caesar at A5 provides a delightful variety of flavors and textures. Crispy gem lettuce holds onto the tangy, umami-packed dressing with the perfect amount of heat. The shaved yolk, in addition to the torn croutons, gives a rustic feel allowing the poached egg to delicately run over the salad for a luscious and creamy component. Parmigiano adds a salty finish that helps elevate the creamy, spicy and savory salad. It’s really good paired with the notorious Japanese A5 Sirloin.

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