Tossed and loaded

Al-Ameer 12710 W. Warren Ave., Dearborn, 313-582-8185; 27346 Ford Rd., Dearborn Heights; 313-565-9600: This Lebanese fare isn't Americanized factory food. Instead, Al-Ameer stays true to the Lebanese table, offering fresh bread, serving no pork or liquor, and preparing food that's made to order, and not overwhelmed by spices and herbs. The menu can please vegetarians gaga for the "veggie galaba" or meat-eaters hungering for the boneless chicken breast that's char-broiled, sliced and finished in a lemon garlic sauce. Al-Ameer has more than a dozen salads, from the $2.95 cucumber-yogurt creation to the larger shawarma fattoushes ($13). Add feta or Syrian cheese for $1.75 more.

Atlanta Bread Company 19181 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe; 313-640-8200: Serving specialty salads, sandwiches, soups and baked goods, the salad choices include the "balsamic bleu salad" (field greens and romaine lettuce, blue cheese, walnuts, apples, tomato, red onion and dried cranberries with a balsamic vinaigrette). And for those who want a bit more protein, take a look at the "Chopstix chicken salad" (char-grilled chicken with mixed and romaine lettuce, Mandarin oranges, chow mein noodles, almonds and tomatoes with a sesame-ginger dressing).

Christine's Cuisine 729 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-584-3354: Christine's has a variety of pleasing salads, usually based on a foundation of lettuce and mixed greens, with a variety of fresh, house-made dressings. The Mediterranean salad ($5.75) has chopped tomatoes, cukes, red onion and house-baked potato chips (!). Add feta and it becomes the Athena salad ($6.50), which a friend swears by with chicken added. The Southwestern-inspired black-bean salad ($6) mixes tomatoes, chopped onions, tortilla strips, sour cream and cilantro, with a salsa vinaigrette. Or go for the hearty chef's salad ($7.95), with smoked Bavarian ham, smoked turkey, Swiss and American cheese, tomatoes, red onion and hard-boiled eggs. If you feel you need more protein, you can add (for a price) steak, chicken or shrimp to all salads, including the humbler Caesar ($5.50).

Crust Pizza & Wine Bar 6622 Telegraph Rd., Bloomfield Plaza, Bloomfield Twp.; 248-855-5855; 2595 Rochester Rd., Rochester Hills; 248-844-8899: In addition to Crust's deft combinations of pizza and wine, they have a few salads to swear by, including fresh mozzarella salad, arugula salad, chopped chicken salad and, best of all, the Sonoma salad: grape tomatoes, dried apricots, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and toasted almonds over organic mesclun greens, enlivened with a green tea-pomegranate vinaigrette and fortified with a sturdy piece of freshly baked focaccia bread.

Foran's Irish Pub 612 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-3043: Perhaps you thought this stubborn fixture in downtown Detroit was just a smoky little watering hole. You'd be pleasantly surprised by their menu, which ranges over soups, sandwiches and, of course, salads. The seven offerings include spinach ($6.50), classic Caesar ($5.50, $7.50 with chicken), "crazy salad" (with chicken fingers or diced veggie burger ($8) and chicken ($7.50). But an acquaintance raves about two in particular: the "Finn" salad (fire-grilled chicken breast, fresh mozzarella, croutons from Avalon, mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, with Foran's own sun dried tomato-basil dressing; $7.50) and the Southwest chicken salad (cubed chicken tossed with black beans, corn, roasted red peppers and a special blend of spices over a bed of romaine and spinach, with avocado and red onion; $8). Yum!

Giulio & Sons Restaurant Hyatt Regency, 600 Town Center Dr., Dearborn, 313-982-6830: Welcome the warm spring weather with the perfect filling salad, amid a setting of rich warm colors, the sights of hand-painted murals and the sounds of bubbling fountains. Giulio & Sons offers a variety of salad favorites, both unusual and classic, including the "fruit and yogurt salad" (fresh seasoned fruit and berries, homemade date nut bread, fruit yogurt or cottage cheese), the "pan-seared salmon salad" (salmon with mixed greens, marinated artichokes, red peppers, sweet balsamic cipollini onion with a Champagne-citrus dressing) and the "crab cake salad" (blackened Maryland jumbo lump crab cake over fresh mango risotto with tropical slaw).

Harvard Grill16624 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Park; 313-882-9090: This small shop serves many things, but gets a brisk sell-through on its four salads. Yes, they have a Greek salad and a chef's salad, but their grilled chicken salad ($6.65) sounds delish: lettuce, raisins and walnuts, topped with sliced chicken breast and hard-boiled egg. (They recommend you top it with their house-made honey-mustard dressing.) Or, for the "kitchen sink" salad, try the cobb salad, with tossed greens, bacon bits, hard-boiled eggs, tomato, crumbled blue cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, cucumbers, a sliced grilled chicken breast and, though some might see it as heresy, black olives. Owner Mike Muer says it's so big it comes with a pair of tongs, so two diners can treat it as a mini-salad bar.

Inn Season Café 500 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak, 248-547-7916: Inn Season has a knack for taking vegetarian cuisine to a higher level. That holds true with its salad selection, which includes not only healthful organic baby greens, but a blue-cheese-and-walnut salad. For instance, the "Inn Season" salad has romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, red cabbage, marinated onions and more, topped with choice of low-fat cheese, soy cheese, sautéed tofu or avocado. The half-dozen dressings include not just balsamic vinaigrette, Caesar, Greek and thousand island, but honey-poppy seed and tahini, as well as lemon, olive oil and three choices of vinegar!

Lola's 1427 Randolph St., Detroit, 313-962-0483: Lola's has a reputation for making comfort food from exotic fixings, and nowhere is that more apparent than in their "Detroiter salad" ($8), a mix of field greens, lettuce, red and green grapes, dried cherries, blue cheese, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, and croutons, comes with cherry viniagette. Add chicken, shrimp or salmon for $4 more. Closed Sundays.

Russell Street Deli 2465 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-2900: This Eastern Market fixture has a healthy mix of salads, from the inexpensive house salad to grander tuna and chicken salads ($7.75) on up to "Bob's salad," which boasts corned beef, turkey and Swiss cheese on fresh lettuce and vegetables. Served with your choice of fresh house-made dressings.

Salad Creations 1043 Woodward Ave., Detroit, 313-963-5800; 18349 Hall Rd., Macomb Twp., 586-226-1000: Given Detroit's reputation as a meat-and-potatoes town, it's notable that a salad-themed chain has opened two new locations in the metro area, one of them in that bastion of the Coney dog: Downtown Detroit. Salad Creations lets patrons pick a fresh and fabulous salad off their featured menu, also giving customers the chance to mix and match greens, fruits and vegetables into their own concoctions, topped with a choice of homemade dressing. For a light healthful meal, featured salads include the chopped "Boca veggie" (romaine and iceberg lettuce, green pepper, red onion, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, corn, chickpeas, tomatoes, carrots and croutons) and the "gorgonzola and greens" (spring mix, creamy gorgonzola cheese, Mandarin oranges, artichoke hearts, sunflower seeds and croutons).

Yotsuba Japanese Restaurant and Bar 7365 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield, 248-737-8282: From appetizers to entrée sets to noodles dishes, Yotsuba's Japanese fare usually delights, but some keep coming for the asparagus and avocado salad, topped with a tangle of finely shredded carrot and white turnip strands. It's hard to miss with these two main ingredients, but what makes this dish is the carrot dressing: peachy-colored, thick and one of the best salad dressings you'll likely have. Needless to add, the salad, like everything else, is lovely to look at, with colors that complement each other as well as the tastes do. There is no tossed salad in Japanese cuisine; the word is "arranged."

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