Mouthful - Superb salads

Chopped salad at Maggiano's

Yes, Maggiano's is a cheesy chain, but we flat out love this salad. While everyone else can gorge on chicken parmesan and whopping bowls of pasta, order a big plate of this deft, zesty blend of chopped iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese, scallions, avocado and prosciutto-cum-bacon bits. It's also a great to-go item in the middle of a hectic day. 3368 Peachtree Road, 404-816-9650; 4400 Ashford Dunwoody Road, 770-804-3313. www.maggianos.com.

Thai salads at Tamarind

While Tamarind's lovely Thai cuisine beckons any time of the year, summer is the time to make a meal exclusively of salads. Roasted duck beguiles with a Technicolor carnival of duck medallions, chunks of pineapple, julienned green apple and cashews. Nam sad — pork salad — has a bracing, lime-laced pungency that quickly becomes addictive. Word on the street is that Tamarind may close by year's end, so indulge in these refreshing creations while you can. 80 14th St. 404-873-4888.

Fattoush at Byblos

It really doesn't sound like much: common romaine with tomato and cucumber in a garlicky dressing, enlivened with crunchy bits of toasted pita. In the hands of Byblos' capable kitchen, though, this salad is elevated to a study of subtle juxtapositions. It's typically the first mezza (Middle Eastern small plate) to disappear. 10684 Alpharetta Highway, Roswell. 678-352-0321. www.byblos-atlanta.com.

Salade niÇoise at Les Fleurs de lis Cafe

Chef/co-owner Lenny Robinson knows how to romance a salad with Parisian finesse. The elements of his Niçoise — imported tuna, crisp haricot vert, toothy chunks of potato, a few olives tucked here and there — have individual integrity yet harmonize elegantly. If you're hungry, pair the salad with Robinson's gushy croque monsieur. 57 Forsyth St., Suite R-8. 404-230-9151,

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