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Salad Bars

Most salad bars range from bad to worse, but several strive for farmer’s-market quality and often succeed. No wonder they’re packed at lunch: New York’s non-chefs need to exercise creative control somewhere, after all.

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1. City Bakery
Maury Rubin’s temple of sucrose, now expanded to the savory realm, is inevitably crowded—you always end up standing there with your tray, waiting for a table—but the roasted tomatoes alone are worth it. ($12 per pound. 3 West 18th Street; 212-366-1414.)

2. The Vinegar Factory
The basic selection isn’t all that basic (35 salads!) and doesn’t carry the usual Eli Zabar price tag. But if you do want to break the bank, add a delicious dose of vitamins in the form of the truly beautiful Eli’s Greenhouse Baby Greens, at $5.75 per quarter-pound. (431 East 91st Street; 212-987-0885; also available at Eli’s Manhattan, 1411 Third Avenue, at 80th Street; 212-717-8100.)

3. Vine Market
Think sugar-snap peas with lemon and thyme. Simple. Good. ($7.95 per pound. 25 Broad Street; 212-344-8463.)

4. Cucina Gourmet
Innocuous but not depressing takeout on a block crowded with in-and-out lunch places. Try the nicely chopped Turkish health salad and the heartier Cobb. ($5.99 per pound. 54 West 56th Street; 212-262 0909; and Citicorp Center, plaza level, 153 East 53rd Street; 212-751-1999.)

5. Zeytuna
Where else can you sit outside and hear live music with your pilaki-bean salad? Stay the whole lunch hour. ($5.98 per pound. 59 Maiden Lane; 212-742-2436; and at the South Street Seaport, 161 Maiden Lane; 212-514-5858.)


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