With its convenient (/dangerous) proximity to both my home and my office, I spend an inordinate amount of time at the Hungry Cat.
Its creative cocktails and entrees are always worth the trip, but, sub-glamorous truth be told, I am a slave to the simple market lettuce salad. For it is no mere salad, but a satisfying meal that hits all the high notes: crunchy, creamy, rich and tangy. What appears to be an entire head of lettuce is tossed with loads of fatty avocado, sweet and nutty parmesan, spicy shallots and sieved egg, and dressed with a simple lemon and olive oil vinaigrette that offers a hit of fresh acid and plenty of healthy grease.
Sure, you could easily recreate it at home, but for a mere $10, why bother? For dinner, it’s perfect as a shared starter ahead of something heftier; for brunch, it won’t weigh you down, even if you start with an order of the perfectly plump peel and eat shrimp (which you must) and a bloody mary (or two).
Speaking of the bloodies: theirs are made with muddled fresh tomatoes. These days, they’re also garnished with house-pickled veg like peppers or cauliflower, but, once upon a time, my bloody arrived accessorized with a toothpick bearing two perfect chunks of house-made bacon. Ahhh, memories.
1134 Chapala Street; 805-884-4701; thehungrycat.com