We all know how much I love a giant salad. It’s been documented time and time again. So I get stupidly excited when new salad-y type places open in Austin! I’ve been waiting for the debut of Vinaigrette, a New Mexico-based salad restaurant since I heard whispers of it on Eater last year.
I’m such a salad nerd that I took my mom (who was visiting from Seattle last month) to lunch there on Vinaigrette’s OPENING DAY. I couldn’t wait any longer. Some people get pumped about burgers and pizza, I get all crazy about kale and arugula. Girl can’t help it. (Don’t get me wrong, I like burgers and pizza, too.)
Earlier this week some of us Austin Food Blogger Alliance members were treated to a happy hour tasting at the Vinaigrette bar, so now I feel like I’m an expert on their menu. And yes, Vinaigrette has a bar! Complete with delicious libations of both the boozy and non-boozy variety. So far I’ve been super into everything I’ve tried at Vinaigrette. Here’s the rundown on the menu items I’ve had the pleasure of devouring…
My #1 salad is a gigantic pile of kale, of course. This is the Omega: Leafy greens chopped and tossed with sweet corn, diced bell pepper, tomato, avocado, red onion, cilantro, and toasted pine nuts. Dressed with blue cheese vinaigrette.
I never met an Asian chopped salad I didn’t like, and this one is no exception. Chopped Napa cabbage and rice noodles, with julienned red bell peppers, scallions, shredded carrots, cilantro, and peanuts. Tossed with miso ginger vinaigrette and crispy noodles. Pro tip: add shrimp!
Okay, this one has the best/cheesiest name: The Nutty Pear-fessor. Yes, they went there. But true to its word, the salad does have both nuts and pears. Grilled Bosc pears, bacon crumbles, toasted pecan halves, and tangy blue cheese served with tender greens and ruby port vinaigrette. Even better with some flank steak tossed on there!
Vinaigrette has a big, beautiful space off South Congress (near the Lucy’s Fried Chicken) and tons of parking, which is a huge plus in that area. Their outdoor patio is absolutely lovely, featuring a giant live oak tree.
So nice to enjoy their Frozen Vinny Palmer (blended hibiscus iced tea, fresh lemonade, pomegranate grenadine) on the sunny patio! If you’re feeling like a party, add a shot of vodka or rum.
Their indoor area is bright, light, and airy, featuring both a restaurant section and a bar section.
And yup, as promised, a bar area! Cutely named the SaladBar (get it?).
Besides that beautiful Vinny Palmer pictured earlier, they offer an assortment of cocktails, beer, and wine, as well as delicious fresh juice-based drinks. I’m especially fond of the Earth Bite: Golden beet, grapefruit bitters, soda, pineapple, and lime. Refreshing!
If you’re not in the mood for a gigantic salad, you can sidle up to the salad bar, order a juice or a cocktail, and grab a couple of small plates.
Those are the kale nachos and shoestring sweet potato fries. Mmmm those kale nachos are GOOD.
My very favorite small plate, though, is the duck confit tacos. These bad boys are made of duck confit, hoisin, and hot sauce with peanuts, scallions and carrots, served up in crispy jicama “tortillas.” So crunchy, sweet, spicy, and awesome.
So, not only is Vinaigrette a sweet place to grab a big salad for lunch or dinner, it also functions as a juice bar and a BAR-bar. The only thing they don’t offer yet is brunch, but hopefully, that changes too, because I’m totally down for a breakfast salad topped with a fried egg and a mimosa made from fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juice! Just think about it, Vinaigrette. Please. For me.