Here's the biggest news about beets these days: President Barack Obama doesn't like them. And the majority of you probably agree. After all, most folks' experience with the purple-red root vegetable is this: Beets were the boiled-till-bitter side to, like, pork chops or pot roast. Or the salad-bar item that came julienned straight from the can.
Nutrition-wise, beets—like any dark-colored vegetable—are little self-contained health-food stores. And, with the relatively new emphasis on locally grown, fresh produce, beets have seen a renaissance, mostly in the form of salads, where they're complemented by crumbles of tangy bleu cheese, a bed of arugula or a mild fruit or vegetable. Here's our round-up of some beet salads that have won us over:Winter Fruit & Three Beet Salad w/ Pecans, Danish Bleu Cheese and White Balsamic Vinaigrette @ Toronado. Chef Glenn Groening has a winner here—easily our fave—both in taste (love them golden beets) and price (a mere $7). Unfortunately, it was recently removed from the seasonal menu; we eagerly await its return. www.toronadosd.com.Roasted Beet & Avocado Salad @ Quarter Kitchen. What's this? Avocados and beets? This fantastic concoction is part of Quarter Kitchen's new menu, put together by new chef Nathan Coulon. It's well worth the $12 price tag. www.quarterkitchen.com.Leaning Tower of Beets @ Better Half. This one's made with gold and red Chioggia beets, sometimes called “bullseye beets” because they have alternating red and white (or gold and white) rings. Practically a meal in itself, the work-of-art tower o' beets (with a haricot vert base) comes with a little tomato-and-lettuce side salad. www.thebetterhalfbistro.com.Organic Beets @ Kitchen 1540. Like Quarter Kitchen's beet salad, this Kitchen also leaves out the lettuce. CityBeat's Seth Combs—normally not a fan of stinky cheese—wrote about the salad in a review awhile back and here's what he had to say: “The salad was a perfect balance of tastes, and the cheese was mild enough to be complementary, not overwhelming.” www.laubergedelmar.com/kitchen1540.Baby Beet Salad @ Nine-Ten. This one comes with roasted baby beets and roasted baby carrots (plus toasted walnuts, candied baby fennel, arugula and a champagne vinaigrette) and looks awfully pretty on the plate. We've witnessed beet haters become beet lovers after trying a bite. www.nine-ten.com.Pickled Baby Beets with Apples @ Avenue 5. With pancetta, in addition to Stilton bleu cheese and a banyuls vinaigrette, this is the only non-vegetarian option in this list—though we're sure they'll leave out the meat if you ask. Still, the pancetta's a nice accompaniment with the beets. www.avenue5restaurant.com.Red and Gold Beet Salad @ Neighborhood. This one's listed along with main-dish items (and comes with a goat-cheese mousse and lemon-orange citrus vinaigrette), which means you're welcome—nay, encouraged—to order a side of tasty sweet-potato fries as an accompaniment. www.neighborhoodsd.com.Fresh Beets, Toasted Walnuts, Goat Cheese and Organic Arugula w/ Drizzled Pomegranate Vinaigrette @ Sammy's Woodfired Pizza. Yes, even pizza chains can do tasty salads. We dig the way the arugula blends with the beets, which you get lots of—in our experience, Sammy's don't skimp. www.sammyspizza.com.