DIRT is not a vegan restaurant. It caters to meat-eaters, vegetarians, pescatarians, vegans, gluten-free diners, and even those on the paleo diet. But unlike other restaurants that serve meat, the majority of the menu is vegan or vegan-izable, while the meat options take a backseat. The vegan options reign supreme, with choices ranging from the ever-popular impossible burger to vegan pancakes and beyond. As you can imagine, I ate my heart out.
DIRT was born in Miami, and just recently expanded outside of Florida for the first time to Arlington, Ballston Exchange, with plans for even more expansion in the area. It is a “counter casual” restaurant. I will explain. Rather than fast casual, where you make your own bowl with a variety of ingredients, you choose from an already set, vegetable forward, nutritionally focused menu at the counter. It is more sophisticated than fast food, however, as your items can be customized and you can order items like booze, and hand crafted coffee drinks. With so many vegan options on the menu I didn’t know where to start so I basically went crazy and ordered half a dozen items.
I love Impossible foods and so I went for the Impossible tacos, a decision that paid off. The tacos are explosively good. The meaty filling, topped with curried cauliflower, tart pickled onions and a spicy chipotle infused cashew cheese, provides for a roller coaster of flavors for your taste buds. I ordered vegan creamed spinach on the side, which I realize is not typical side to eat with tacos but I was intrigued. Could vegan creamed spinach actually be good? I was skeptical. I stand corrected. No one at my table could even tell it was vegan. It was so rich, creamy and savory we were literally fighting over it. I love all carbs (yes, I am a poster child for the anti-Atkins movement), so I also ordered a duo of toasts: avocado toast that piled high with chunky avocado, and edamame toast, with an edamame mash and hunks of burrata.
The theme of DIRT is healthy, but luckily the desserts don’t taste like they are good for you even if they are. The peanut butter milkshake is super rich, and plant protein powder filled chocolate bark is crispy and addictive.
The owners have partnered with several local chefs and food purveyors, so expect to see items like Call Your Mother’s bagels, ice cream from Trickling Springs, herbs from Little Wild Things, and pastries from Sticky Fingers.
Vegans, carnivores, and anyone in between: it doesn’t really matter what your dietary preference is, DIRT will cater to you and will give you something you will want to stuff your face with. This is a great post-gym, pre-gym, non-gym related casual date stop for anyone in Arlington or visiting Arlington.