True to its name, a wedge salad consists of a wedge of crisp iceberg lettuce garnished with ingredients such as chopped bacon, diced tomatoes, and crumbled blue cheese. The salad is typically drizzled with a creamy blue cheese dressing. Enjoyed as an entrée or a side dish, wedge salads are popular not just due to their taste but also thanks to their delightful combination of textures. The iceberg lettuce provides a satisfying crunch that contrasts perfectly with the creamy dressing. And the bacon adds smoky notes, while the tomatoes imbue the dish with a hint of sweetness.
While nobody has taken credit for the invention of the wedge salad, the first known recipe for the dish appeared in a 1916 cookbook titled "Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Dish Recipes" by Marion Harris Neil. The wedge salad emerged as an American classic sometime during the 1950s, when bacon bits and crumbled blue cheese joined the dish. Today, wedge salads can typically be found at steakhouses and American diners across the nation.
Got a hankering for a wedge salad? You may want to eat it at a restaurant, but some popular chains do it better than others. Take a peek at our list of the best and not-so-great wedge salads at 11 popular chain restaurants in the U.S., as ranked by customer reviews. We'll explain our methodology in greater detail at the very end.
11. BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse
The House Wedge Salad at BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse is highly customizable. Patrons can choose from a variety of toppings that include blue cheese crumbles, smoked bacon, red onion, tomatoes, and parsley. While the menu item typically comes with a blue cheese dressing, this can be easily substituted for other condiments such as balsamic vinaigrette, honey mustard, Thousand Island, and ranch dressing.
Unfortunately, the House Wedge Salad at BJ's Restaurant has failed to impress many diners, who have highlighted shortcomings in both the taste and overall quality of the dish. One DoorDash reviewer says that their salad was barely dressed. "The wedge salad was almost naked," they wrote, coming with "at most a tablespoon of tomatoes, no blue cheese, a few pieces of crumbled bacon." Another reviewer says that the menu item wasn't as good as some other wedge salads they have had in the past, while yet more customers comment that the salad tasted mediocre. In the world of wedge salads, this one seems hardly worth your time or money.
10. Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse made its debut in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1981. Since then, the chain has expanded to 17 locations across the U.S. While the restaurant specializes in aged USDA Prime beef, it also offers a diverse menu that includes an array of fresh seafood and other hot and chilled dishes. One of these is the wedge salad, made with iceberg lettuce, bacon, cherry tomatoes, and Danish blue cheese dressing.
While Del Frisco's steaks may be a hit with diners, the same can't be said for the chain's wedge salad. In particular, some online reviewers complain about the quality and paltry amount of dressing and bacon — both of which many consider to be essential ingredients in a quality wedge salad. One dissatisfied patron said that the blue cheese dressing on the salad was watery and that the dish came with minimal amounts of bacon.
9. Ruth's Chris Steak House
Ruth's Chris Steak House is popular for its USDA Prime steaks, which are broiled and delivered to each table at a sizzling 500 degrees. However, Ruth's Chris isn't just about steak. The restaurant offers a variety of other menu items to cater to a wide range of tastes, including greens. The chain's Lettuce Wedge comes with crispy greens, blue cheese, and bacon, while the dish is accented with a blue cheese dressing.
Though the wedge salad served up at Ruth's Chris Steak House has stirred a variety of opinions amongst patrons, many diners have complained about the size of the dish and the quality of its ingredients. According to one diner writing on Yelp: "[The] wedge comes out, and is the smallest wedge I've ever seen. Iceberg lettuce is not an expensive item." In a similar vein, another reviewer complained about the inadequate amount of bacon on their salad.
8. The Capital Grille
Established in 1990 in Providence, Rhode Island, The Capital Grille quickly earned a reputation for its commitment to serving quality, dry-aged beef. From bone-in ribeyes to filet mignons, all of the chain's steaks are hand-carved in-house to ensure that each cut meets the highest standard of quality. In addition to its steaks, The Capital Grille also serves a plethora of other dishes, including a wedge salad with smoked bacon and blue cheese.
The Capital Grille's wedge salad has received both favorable feedback and criticism from patrons. On a positive note, a review from Simply Buckhead recommends the salad, proclaiming that it checks all the boxes with crispy lettuce, double-cut bacon, fragrant tomatoes, and just the right amount of gorgonzola dressing. A Yelp reviewer also praises the dish, saying, "A big wedge of lettuce with bleu cheese and big-ole fat smoked bacon croutons. Yum!"
However, not everybody is as impressed. Some diners complain that their wedge didn't come with enough condiments, including the all-important bacon. An even harsher critique comes from one diner who says: "The blue cheese [on the wedge salad] tasted like out of a bottle. Nothing special at all."
7. The Palm
Established in 1926 in New York City, The Palm is an iconic American dining establishment that's known for its prime cuts of steak, succulent seafood, and a unique ambiance characterized by caricature-adorned walls. Among the restaurant's menu items is the Steakhouse Wedge, a classic favorite that offers a crisp and refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the main courses. The dish features fresh lettuce, Danish blue cheese, bacon, cherry tomatoes, fried onions, chives, and toasted walnuts.
The team at The Palm describes the Steakhouse Wedge as "fresh, crisp, and full of flavor," and the majority of diners tend to agree. A reviewer from What's Cookin, Chicago? praises the menu item for its flavor, perfect ratio of ingredients, and generous size, adding that it can stand alone as a main meal. Several other diners concur, saying that the dish is one of the best wedge salads they have ever had, perfectly done, and flavorful.
On the flip side, a couple of reviewers complained that they could taste an unwelcome hit of vinegar in the dish, with one patron saying they received a disappointing portion of blue cheese. "It looked like they had [run] out of blue cheese and the dressing because all I could taste was heaps of oil and vinegar and not blue cheese," they wrote. "The salad was just really soggy and not your typical wedge salad."
6. Outback Steakhouse
The wedge salad hasn't always been on the Outback Steakhouse menu. In fact, the restaurant dropped the side salad from its culinary repertoire in 2020 when it streamlined its menu during the COVID-19 pandemic. The dish made a brief comeback in March 2023 to celebrate the chain's 35 years in operation and then reappeared in July of the same year. While the re-introduction was supposed to be for a limited time only, the salad currently still appears on the chain's menu. The classic dish comes with iceberg lettuce drizzled with a blue cheese dressing and a sweet balsamic glaze. The salad is garnished with an array of toppings, including blue cheese crumbles, bits of bacon, grape tomatoes, and red onion.
The wedge salad at Outback Steakhouse has elicited both positive and negative feedback from diners. One enthusiastic customer writing on Yelp praises the menu item's generous portion and the addition of sweet balsamic vinegar, adding, "It really makes the salad pop and I have never had a wedge salad as good elsewhere." Another Yelp reviewer voices a similar sentiment, saying, "That wedge salad was the best part of this visit. The salad was a five."
Yet, it's not all wins. One reviewer calls the menu item boring, writing, "I found the blue cheese nuggets at the very end." Another diner backs up this sentiment, saying that the salad was missing key ingredients, although they don't specify what those were.
5. Legal Sea Foods
Legal Sea Foods had its start as a fish market in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1950. The venture expanded into the restaurant business with the opening of its first eatery in 1968. The restaurant's popularity grew, and today the chain operates more than 20 outlets. What makes the wedge salad at Legal Sea Foods stand out from the pack is its use of salmon bacon. Other ingredients include iceberg lettuce, crispy onions, tomatoes, and crumbled blue cheese dressing.
Legal Sea Foods' wedge salad has elicited a range of reactions, with patrons divided on whether the flavor and texture of the salmon bacon hit the mark. On one end of the spectrum, one satisfied diner calls the dish another home run for the chain, elaborating, "The most delicious wedge salad I have ever had that came with salmon. It was fabulous." On the flip side, another diner disagrees, saying that they prefer real bacon to the chain's fishy rendition of the meaty ingredient. Your own reaction will likely depend on just how much you enjoy salmon in the first place.
4. Mastro's Restaurants
The Chopped Iceberg Wedge at Mastro's is a little unusual in that it's, well, chopped. This raises a question: Is it still a wedge salad when the wedge has been disassembled? Adding to the confusion, the chain's menu provides practically no information about the ingredients in the dish. Going off images from social media and review websites, we assume that it follows the conventional blueprint for a wedge salad with iceberg lettuce, blue cheese, and a medley of other ingredients typically found in this dish, including large pieces of bacon.
Most reviewers have been impressed with the Chopped Iceberg Wedge at Mastro's. One diner even mentioned that they enjoyed the fact that the dish was chopped, as this made it easier to eat. On Yelp, another patron also approves of the salad, stating, "If you like bacon, you will be in hog heaven with the chopped iceberg wedge. The bacon is super thick and plentiful as is the blue cheese."
Surprisingly, some diners complain that the dish comes with too much bacon, with one OpenTable reviewer commenting that "It was smothered in bacon." As bacon aficionados ourselves, we don't really get it, but it's probably safe to say that you should stay away from this menu item if you aren't a big fan of bacon.
3. Steak 44
Steak 44 opened in Phoenix in 2014 and expanded with six more restaurants across the country under the name Steak 48. With so few locations, Steak 44 remains relatively unknown to many people. However, the chain's somewhat low profile only adds to its charm, attracting diners who seek out lesser-known culinary gems. The restaurant's menu features classic steakhouse fare as well as other offerings such as seafood, salads, and sides. One of these dishes is the Steak Knife BLT Wedge. Just as its name suggests, the salad with a hefty wedge of iceberg lettuce, bacon, and heirloom cherry tomatoes. Unlike a classic BLT sandwich, however, this salad comes with the traditional blue cheese.
The Steak Knife BLT Wedge at Steak 44 has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from customers. On Tripadvisor, one fan of the dish says: "We split the wedge salad and it was wise to do so. It was so tasty and those bacon chunks were delicious." Another Tripadvisor reviewer also noted the generous size of the salad, saying, "The wedge salad was huge and very tasty (definitely splittable between 2 people)." Several other reviewers also praise the dish, describing it as delicious, perfect and to die for. Yet, if you're not ready for such a large portion, you may start to feel uncomfortably full towards the end of your meal.
2. Ocean Prime
Ocean Prime is an upscale chain with an impressive menu consisting largely of prime cuts of steak and fresh seafood. The restaurant chain also features a range of other options, including the Crisp Iceberg Wedge with blue cheese, candied bacon, marinated tomatoes, and pickled onions, all enveloped in a Cabernet buttermilk dressing. There's also a seafood variant in the form of the Crab Wedge with jumbo lump crab, blue cheese, red onion, and Louis dressing — after all, Ocean Prime does specialize in seafood.
Diners rave about Ocean Prime's iceberg wedge, indicating that it's a great menu option as a side and on its own. As one diner writing on Tripadvisor says: "The lettuce was crisp and the dressing was flavorful." Many other patrons concur, describing the dish as delicious and beautifully presented and one of the best wedge salads they have ever tried. The chain's Crab Wedge has also received positive feedback from diners, with one reviewer describing it as perfect and yet another diner commenting: "This is a must have!!! Loads of fresh lump crab meat and a delicious salad dressing." So long as you're a fan of seafood, this could easily land in your culinary favorites.
Truluck's specializes in seafood, especially Florida stone crab. To ensure maximum freshness, the crab is only served between October 15 and May 1, when it's in season. Best of all, the crustaceans are harvested humanely, with crabbers only removing one of the claws before releasing the crabs back into their natural habitat to regenerate the lost limb (something Florida stone crabs can do once they go through a few molts). Complementing this sustainable approach to seafood is Truluck's equally thoughtful preparation of other dishes, including the Wedge Salad made with warm bacon, blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, and chives.
On Facebook, Truluck's describes wedge salad in three words: "Colorful. Flavorful. Delightful." It's a sentiment with which diners seem to agree. On Yelp, one patron is especially enthusiastic about the menu item, saying, "We enjoyed a spectacular wedge salad. Best I've ever eaten! It came with cherry tomatoes, which I'm not a fan of but these were otherworldly and I ate all of them."
Another OpenTable reviewer calls the dish "very tasty," adding, "[It came with] finely crumbled blue cheese and outstanding bacon pieces — read all bacon flavor without a greasy/fatty taste." Many other patrons also speak highly of the dish, claiming that it is very good, tasty, and delightful.
To create a roundup that ranks some of the best and worst wedge salads at chain restaurants, we carefully collected and examined customer reviews from popular online review platforms and social media, including Yelp, Facebook, and DoorDash. We also took note of reviews that were especially detailed and took outlier reviews (both good and bad) into account when assembling this ranking.
Read the original article on Mashed.