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Fourleaf Chopped Salads offers a fresh way to get your veggie fix

The Denver Tech Center location of Fourleaf Chopped Salads isn't particularly convenient; it's tucked away in a strip mall off the I-25 frontage road and located a little below street level, so it's easy to miss. And the hours of operation -- 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays only -- are not that convenient, either.

Still, when we stopped by Monday for lunch, there was a line stretching out the door. And then we found that there was a good reason for that: These salads are delicious.

There's only one vegetarian/vegan-friendly salad on the roster of "specialty" salads, but with dozens upon dozens of toppings (including char-grilled tofu), a build-your-own option is a good way to go. We went with the Asian salad, comprising spinach and romaine lettuces, grilled tofu, snow peas, radishes, bean sprouts, green onions and chow mein noodles. You can select your dressing; we'd suggest the Mandarin-Sesame-Ginger concoction or a Sweet Thai peanut-based dressing for this combination.

What makes this company different from Mad Greens? Many of the toppings are the same -- but what makes Fourleaf stand out is the preparation process. After you've chosen your specialty salad (or loaded a container with your own choices), the lettuce and toppings are spread out on a large cutting-board surface, and an employee uses a giant, double-handled, banana-shaped knife to chop up your salad. Then the Fourleaf staffer scoops all of the pieces into a giant bowl, tosses them with dressing, and pours everything back into its container for you to enjoy.

The result is a salad of uniform, bite-sized pieces all equally coated in dressing for your munching pleasure.

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