Top Five Salads in Miami: Fried Green Tomatoes, Garden Lettuce, Liquid Mozzarella and More

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There are three kinds of salad-eaters: those constant devotees who will eat any type of greenery, as long it includes some sort of refreshing vegetation; those who will force down salads quickly and out of obligation; and those who nudge lettuce to the extremity of their plates, never to be poked, touched or ingested.

But then there are salads that are so good, so fulfilling that they capture the interest of even the shyest of eaters. Think creamy, salty cheese -- like thin shavings of pecorino Toscano -- paired with ripe slices of juicy local fruit and a pile of fresh, organic crunchy greens. These salads pair freshness with vibrant flavors and textures.

What follows is a round-up of our five favorite salads in Miami. These were selected because they are fairly priced, interesting and delicious. And, of course, because they would certainly please non-salad-eaters and eaters alike.

5. Farmers Salad at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar - $9

We know that this salad at Yardbird isn't exactly groundbreaking. It pairs fresh vegetables -- which change seasonally -- with a local hard boiled egg from Lake Meadow Naturals. On occasion, this salad includes a mixture of baby greens with charred corn, sliced red onion and a slice of toast. But what truly makes it a winner is its smoked Vidalia onion vinaigrette, which is a harmonious balance of sweet and tart flavors. That and the fact that it's only $9.

4. Caprese salad at The Bazaar - $12

Chef and restauranteur Jose Andrés is inspired by vegetables. But its his liquid mozzarella that inspires us. Shaped like a tiny capsule, the mozzarella holds an explosion of fresh cream flavor. Think of the creamiest burrata you have ever tried, but a whole lot better. Paired with cherry tomatoes, this salad has enough texture, flavor and a good dose of Andrés' signature creativity to please anyone. So what if it costs about $4 per morsel?

3. Pork onion salad at Yakko-San - $7.50

Does deep-fried pork, coupled with sliced radishes, tomatoes, and red onions, really qualify as a salad? We sure think so. This signature salad at North Miami Beach staple, Yakko-San, is dressed with a homemade, secret sauce. The protein-to-vegetable balance might be a little off, but we are easily convinced by the crunchy bites of pork and fresh portions of vegetables. It also helps that this indulgent source of nutrients is less than $8.

2. Organic Salad at Mandolin Aegean Bistro - $12

There is a secret growing behind Mandolin Aegean Bistro, the quaint eatery on NE Second Avenue. Past the bakery at the back of the house, owner Ahmet Erkaya has planted an acre of land with kale, arugula, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, lettuces and a bounty of fresh herbs. Every other day, Erkaya harvests greens and offers a $12 special, off-the-menu salad. There are typically only five to 10 portions available per day, but the pile of greens -- dressed delicately with Cretan single origin extra virgin olive oil -- is worth a visit to the restaurant in itself. Vegetables vary daily, so ingredients are dictated by the whims of nature, not the chef. Now that's freshness.

1. Fried green tomato salad at Whisk Gourmet Food & Catering - $12.95

Some people go to Whisk for their Friday burger specials. Others visit the South Miami eatery for their enormous burritos. We drive south for their salads. Their variety of greenery is reason enough to top this list, but its our favorite rendition that makes them number one. The fried green tomato salad fulfills all of our requirements: Crispy fried green tomatoes, bacon, shaved Parmesan cheese, creamy herb buttermilk dressing and fresh organic mixed greens. Dressings are made fresh every morning and roasted meats are made in-house.

Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.

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