The Surprising History of the Caesar Salad

The Caesar salad is an item that you expect to see on the menu at any fine dining restaurant at the Lake of the Ozarks. Both as a side or as a main dish, this delicious salad is a popular item at JB Hook's.

JB Hook's, Lake of the Ozarks

You have most likely ordered it quite a few times over the years, but probably haven't thought much about where this tasty creation originated. Well, you may be surprised to find out that the most popular origin story states that the recipe originated in Mexico.


An Italian immigrant named Caesar Cardini came to America with his brother Alex after World War I. They lived in San Diego, California, but operated a restaurant in the early 1920's in Tijuana to avoid the restrictions brought about by prohibition. 

According to Caesar's daughter, Rosa, her father invented this dish for a busy Fourth of July crowd after they began running out of supplies in the kitchen. As with many classic culinary dishes, something delicious came out of using the odds and ends that were left over. To make this thrown-together dish seem a little more special, he added the dramatic flair of having the chef toss the salad table-side for guests.   

Disputed Origin

Of course, there are other people who claim to be the original inventor. Various staff members from Caesar's kitchen say that they came up with the recipe while working there. Even his brother, Alex, made the claim that he developed this dish, but he named it "Aviator Salad" in honor of the pilot's he flew with in the war. 

Regardless of who actually put the ingredients together first, as it became a very popular food, patrons would say something like, "Let's go to Caesar's and get that salad." The title of "Caesar Salad" is an easy transition from that phrase. 

The famous Julia Child fondly remembered visiting Caesar's restaurant with her parents. Both the flavor and the table-side presentation made quite an impression on her.   

Over the years, the recipe has changed slightly. It always contains romaine lettuce, croutons, and Parmesan cheese. The dressing is made up of a variety of ingredients that every chef likes to play with a bit. 

JB Hook's, Lake of the Ozarks

Give our version a try!

The Caesar salad that comes out of our kitchen is one that we are very proud of. If you would like to make it a bit heartier, we can add Ahi tuna, grouper, salmon, mahi-mahi, shrimp, or chicken. Stop by our Lake of the Ozarks lake view restaurant and give our version of the classic Caesar salad a try. We'd love to hear what you think about it.  

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2260 Bagnell Dam Blvd.
Lake Ozark, MO 65049
(573) 365-3255  


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