Before you start licking your lips and/or laughing, I’m talking about a tossed salad literally here. I’m not referring to some silly idiom that people use to describe a sexual move that’s joked about more than it’s practiced.

Seriously, an expertly tossed salad is something I’ve come to appreciate. I eat salads pretty much every day — the best ones come from my own kitchen, where I take the time to make fresh vinaigrettes and incorporate as many veggies as possible. But I don’t always have the time to do that, so lunches out are a necessity.

My first consideration for choosing a restaurant for lunch? Oh, the salads.

Do they have more than one to choose from? Is it fresh?! Does their house salad constitute more than a bag of precut iceberg lettuce with carrot shreds and a tomato wedge? Do they toss their salads with the dressing or do they put it in a cup on the side?

Recently, Mellow Mushroom started tossing their salads — a move I applaud, even though it caused some debate over there. Apparently, certain people wondered if it wasn’t a waste of time, while others — obviously salad lovers — realized that hardcore users appreciate the tossing of the dressing. All I have to say, is that Mellow Mushroom was already on my short list of places to eat lunch simply because they have really good salads, but now I’d go so far as to say their salads are great! I love the Esperanza dressing (one of the few creamy dressings I’ll eat), and it’s much better when you find it on every little leaf of lettuce.

Curious about what else is on my salad short list?

East Bay Deli — do-it-yourself salad bar makes up for lack of tossing

Lana — Pear and gorgonzola is a great combo and makes for a nice light lunch

Caviar & Bananas — One of my favorites. They toss it right there in front of you!

Shi Ki — seaweed salad counts!

Damn. That is a short list!  I need some other options. Send me suggestions if you’ve got them.