Imagine a world where food can be healthy, fast, and tasty at the same time! No, this isn’t the plot line of some freaky food-fetish flick, it’s an actual thing. And it’s right here in Miami at the new South Beach fast casual hotspot, DIRT. Located on Fifth Street between Collins and Washington Avenues, DIRT’s mission is simple and straightforward: to create innovative, delicious, healthy cuisine that you can feel good about putting into your body. That’s right, DIRT is here to bring clean eating to the Magic City.
Helmed by Chef Nicole Votano (formerly of Fooq’s), DIRT serves up local, sustainable food with an emphasis on personal, warm hospitality. Paired with an ambiance that complements the food perfectly with its bright, sleek, and uplifting design esthetic, it’s hard not to immediately feel comfortable in the space.
More specifically, on the food side guests can enjoy DIRT’s chef-driven fare at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I visited on a cool(ish) winter evening and was impressed by the menu’s vast assortment of vegetable-centric options (don’t worry, you can add meat if that’s your thing), seasonal selections, and classics choices with a healthful culinary twist.
The Salad section is laid out in a “build-your-own” style, where you first select your veggies and fruits from one of five combinations, then go on to pick either grains (quinoa or farro) or greens (DIRT’s own lettuce blend), and finally choose from the optional meats (grass-fed butcher’s cut steak, quinoa-crusted day boat fish, free-range orange basil chicken, free-range rosemary dijon roasted turkey, or cage-free eggs). I went for the Detox (roasted beets, shaved fennel, orange segments, crumbled goat cheese, toasted hazlenuts, tarragon, and honey sherry vinegar) with greens and the orange basil chicken. This is no light salad and is completely filling and will satisfy your hunger during any meal.
The Seasonal menu at DIRT is very easy to navigate, with only three options to choose from: the seasonal plate, the seasonal bowl, or the seasonal salad. My visit happened to be on the final night of the autumn seasonal menu, so it must be noted that you won’t be able to get the above dish if you visit now. That said, just for fun, the Autumn Bowl brought arugula, roasted curried cauliflower, cucumber, pomegranate seeds, fine herbs, butternut squash cashew “cream,” golden quinoa, and extra virgin olive oil. I also decided to add the fish of the day, which happened to be a salmon. Anyway, if the winter menu items are half as good as this Autumn Bowl, you definitely won’t be disappointed.
Finally, from the Sandwiches and Wraps section, I opted to try the Dirty Steak + Cheese. Other options included a Crispy Fish Po’Boy and a B.B.A.T. (Burrata, Turkey Bacon, Avocado & Tomato), but on this night the steak and cheese was calling my name. This sandwich combined herb-marinated grass-fed butcher’s cut steak, jalapeño Monterey Jack cheese, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, local tomatoes, sunflower sprouts, and horseradish “aioli” on Zak the Baker bread. While not as healthy as some of the other menu items, at only 750 calories it’s hands down healthier than probably any other cheesesteak you’ll find around town.
DIRT also features carefully planned beverage and baked goods program, highlighted by a house-made watermelon, raspberry, and rosewater sparkling soda; smoothies and cold-pressed juices that can be enjoyed on-site or taken to-go; and a variety of vegan treats from banana bread to lemon squares and chocolate puffed rice treats.
Mitch’s take: DIRT’s cozy, clean eating, counter-service restaurant concept is primed to nourish health-conscious consumers with locally-sourced, vegetable-forward items for years to come. With its simple concept and good, honest food, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see more DIRTs popping up across Miami (and beyond) in the near future.
Standout dish: I love the idea of the build-your-own salads, especially with the fruit and veggie combos that are developed to ease a variety of ailments. The Detox, for example, boosts liver and kidney function, as well as enhances circulation. Oh, and it’s only 450 calories. Oh, and it’s freaking delicious.