The Internet Has Decided That These 3 Items Are The Foods Of The Summer, And TBH We Kind Of Agree

A martini with olives, a bowl of salad with croutons and cheese, and a bowl of French fries are displayed against a dotted background
Illustration: HuffPost; Photo: Getty

If there was an “it girl” food of the summer, this year, a Caesar salad, a side of fries and a dry martini would easily secure the spot.

As one viral meme about the restaurant order goes, “Are you depressed or do you just really need a dry martini, a Caesar salad and a side order of fries?”

Sometimes, people sub in a diet or regular Coke, but the salty, umami-laden Caesar, and the carby goodness of the fries are always the anchor of the meal.

“The new live laugh love just dropped,” Vox writer Rebecca Jennings joked of the meme last week on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Rebecca Jennings

On TikTok, a search for “Caesar salad and fries” yields more than 60.3 million posts with people ― mostly young women ― singing the praises of the “elite” meal: “The feminine urge to get a Caesar salad with a side of fries,” one women says while she eats in a clip that has over one million views.

“I need an espresso martini, Caesar salad, truffle fries, and a forehead kiss with $10k and some peonies on the side. Nothing too crazy,” another woman joked on X.

Why are we all collectively yearning for this relatively basic restaurant order?

To some extent, it’s a continuation of Girl Dinner, the trend from last year in which women cobbled together a few items ― a little wedge of parmesan reggiano, some olives, some chips and salsa leftover from your last Trader Joe’s run ― and calling it a meal. (As some noted, some version of “Girl Dinner” has existed in other cultures ― tapas, mezze and banchan ― for centuries.)


Like Girl Dinner, this trend is weirdly gendered. Old stereotypes die hard and salad is traditionally associated with women in the same way a good steak is associated with dudes. Though fun fact: In the post-war 1940s, there was a moment where salad-making was considered quite masculine, at least by some food writers.

“A good salad maker must have meticulousness, patience, cleanliness and a very alert sense of touch and taste,” Mario Thomas, Playboy magazine’s food and drink editor, wrote in his column around that time. “For some reason, it takes a man to master this really fine art.”

Also like Girl Dinner, the Caesar/cocktail/fries meal has cost-effectiveness going for it: Generally speaking, it’s cheaper to buy a side salad and side fry versus an entree.

“I don’t want to spend $30 or $40 on a main I might not like and likely won’t fill me up,” said Emily Lycopolus, an olive oil sommelier and cookbook author.

“If I’m out with a few girls, we’ll often order a few different salads (iceberg wedge, Caesar, Cobb), then share the fries, and then share a dessert,” she said. “We all get what we want, and the night can linger on.”

Caitlin PenzeyMoog, the author of the book “On Spice: Advice, Wisdom, and History with a Grain of Saltiness,” thinks people gravitate to the Big Three because the order is hard to screw up, even at mid-tier restaurants.

“I’m talking about the mediocre gastropub restaurants that are ubiquitous,” she said. “The ones where you can always get a table, where maybe there’s a nice outdoor patio, where it’s not amazing but not terrible, and its main draw is convenience.”

Restaurants like that may struggle to cook your burger medium rare, but they can generally throw french fries in a deep fryer and whip up a decent Caesar dressing, PenzeyMoog said.

A person in dark clothing prepares a salad by sprinkling cheese over a wooden bowl filled with lettuce and croutons
Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography via Getty Images

And obviously, there’s the flavor profile: This “meal” packs so many outsized flavors and textures, it puts in work to be your favorite order: the brininess of the martini’s olives, the umami and tanginess of the anchovy-forward Caesar dressing, the fattiness of the fries, the crunch of the croutons ― it’s got it all.

“The dressing is assertive so the salad feels like a main component of the meal rather than an afterthought, the fries dipped in some of that dressing is what dreams are made of,” said Laura Vitale, a cookbook author and host of the YouTube channel “Laura in the Kitchen.

“Plus, I don’t leave the table feeling overly stuffed, I always feel satisfied and the flavors always hit the spot,” Vitale said.


The dryness of the martini pairs perfectly with this meal because it cuts through the fat of the salad dressing and the fries, said Skyler Mapes, the co-founder of EXAU Olive Oil and author of “The Olive Oil Enthusiast.”

“Gin also often has very earthy, peppery or even nutty flavors which pair perfectly with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano in the salad,” she told HuffPost.

In short, it’s the epitome of balance.

Love this ‘elite meal,’ but want to vary your summer salads up a bit? Chefs have ideas.

A fresh, mixed green salad with croutons and grated cheese on a plate, placed on a wooden table
Takanori Ogawa / Getty Images

Though she’ll never quit Caesars, Mapes has a similar meal she loves eating come summer: grilled eggplant (her southern Italian mother-in-law’s recipe), fresh whole Italian anchovies from a tin with fresh bread and butter, and an extra dirty martini with extra olives.

“It’s so good for summer because everything can be eaten at room temperature and picnic style if you want to share,” she said.

If you’re looking to get adventurous, you could also do a tahini Caesar salad, said Edy Massih, a chef and owner of Edy’s Grocer in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and the author of “Keep It Zesty: A Celebration of Lebanese Flavors & Culture from Edy’s Grocer.”

“I’d do that with Aleppo sesame breadcrumbs, which adds a bit of spice and bigger flavor to an already perfect salad dish,” he told HuffPost. “I always pair it with some mezze dips and pita, and of course a martini, my go-to drink in any and all situations.”

If you’re more of a whiskey person than a gin or vodka martini girlie, Lycopolus recommends subbing the Caesar for a wedge.

“I love blue cheese, so I often go for a blue cheese wedge, yam fries and an old-fashioned,” she said. “Bourbon, the sweetness of yam fries, salty bacon and tangy blue cheese are so good together.”

If she’s at a good Italian restaurant, Lycopolus said she’ll do a burrata or caprese salad, some Carpaccio (the meat dish usually has enough arugula on it to pretend it’s a second salad) and a Manhattan.

Three-image panel featuring: roasted tomatoes and burrata cheese, cocktail with citrus garnish, and a plate of thinly sliced meat with cheese and arugula
ThePalmer/ 5PH / 500px / Moncherie / Getty Images

“The complexity of the sweet and dry vermouth is the perfect balance to creamy cheese, sweetly acidic tomato, salty parmesan, melt-in-your-mouth beef, bitter arugula, and that squeeze of lemon,” Lycopolus said.

“I’d top both dishes with a healthy drizzle of beautifully fragrant olive oil, like a Tuscan Frantoio or Andalusian Picual,” she added.

But of course, you could always keep it classic and just order a side of fries, a vodka martini and a Caesar. And you have extra reason to do so this summer: The humble Caesar salad ― invented on a whim in the 1920s by an Italian chef in Tijuana, Mexico ― celebrates its centennial this upcoming July 4. Happy birthday, you salty king, you. This article originally appeared on HuffPost.