College is a time for weight gain. As someone who tries to be healthy, it can be difficult to find healthier alternatives to foods offered at Emory. But when I ventured off campus to Chopt, located in Toco Hills Shopping Center, it became one of my favorite spots. With a build-your-own salad at the heart of the restaurant, it’s easy to create wholesome meals. As an Emory Student, if you show your student ID you can receive a discount. If you’re looking for a new go-to as you manage your diet, here are three Chopt’s classic salad choices along with my customer craft salad to give you a glimpse of the endless choices you have to eat well near campus.

Santa Fe Salad

To say I was wowed when I took my first bite of the Santa Fe Salad would be an understatement. Packed with avocado, grape tomatoes and corn, the recipe has a very spicy aftertaste which lit my mouth on fire. If you like spicy foods, this could be a great option for you. But you can also cool it down with Chopt’s balsamic vinaigrette signature dressing. Even though the Santa Fe Salad is not the typical salad I would buy because I like to create my own salads, it was very flavorful and the spice was overpowering. Yet if you’re not in the mood for spicy food, I might suggest passing on this one. 

Palm Beach Salad

While I was excited to try the Palm Beach Salad, I was met with unfortunate results. At Chopt, you have the option to add protein to your salad; for this order, I chose shrimp. The salad was a combination of hearts of palm, avocados, grape tomatoes, romaine and English cucumbers. While it was very refreshing, I felt as if the salad just didn’t agree with my taste pallet. If you’re not into hearts of palm or shrimp, it may not be your cup of tea either. I am definitely willing to try this salad again, just maybe with a different protein. There’s grilled chicken, shrimp or no protein to choose from. Maybe in the future I’ll go for the grilled chicken, but I’m not dying to order this salad again. With that being said, don’t be afraid to mix it up and be adventurous with your ordering.  

Illustration by Ally Hom

Asian Crunch Salad

The Asian Crunch Salad is now an all-time favorite of mine from Chopt — I cannot get enough of this salad. It is everything I look for in a salad: fresh and delicious. The blend of the broccoli, carrots, pickled red onion, crispy shallots, cabbage and cilantro blend, along with many other toppings on the salad, creates an amazing mixture of tastes and textures. I would highly recommend this as a top choice among the “Chopt classics” and “light favorites” if you are too lazy to create your own salad. The sesame ginger dressing, which Chopt recommends for the salad, made the dish taste just like a typical Asian cuisine. I absolutely love it, and I will most definitely be getting this again. 

Customer Crafted Salad

Lastly, my custom crafted salad, which I call the “Verona Health Kick,” is a salad with arugula, romaine, grilled chicken, apples, broccoli, celery, dried cranberries and edamame with balsamic vinaigrette. The addition of apples gives this salad an organic taste, and it is a salad that I’m always in the mood for. Even thinking about it while writing this makes me hungry. The dried cranberries, while not the healthiest option of toppings due to the high-calorie count, make the salad taste a slightly sweet, which can be good for anyone who needs a bit of extra flavor. 

With the final stretch of classes approaching, it’s always a great idea to improve your eating habits and fuel your body to finish the semester strong. Chopt salads are a great substitute for the fried foods we might indulge in, and they also sell warm grain or cauliflower rice bowls and wraps if you’d like to switch it up. The restaurant is only two miles from Emory, so if you don’t have a car you can order it on DoorDash. Overall, I enjoyed most of the salads and enjoyed trying meals outside of my comfort zone.