Originally appeared in Prism
We were welcomed for an intimate preview of DIRT‘s Fall seasonal menu and it’s every bit as beautiful as you’d expect. But let’s take a few steps back. As part of our One Night Stay at the South of Fifth boutique hotel, Sense Beach House, we explored the surrounding local favorite spots and took a short one block walk to the clean-conscious outpost on everyone’s tongue. And once you enter the light-flooded and warm eatery, you immediately understand why.
Although Miami may be slow on the clean eating and locally-sourced uptake, in just about 10 months, DIRT’s presence has been overwhelmingly well-received into the daily lives of locals both on the beach and off. The collection of towering windows isn’t the only thing that’s transparent about DIRT, they happily shout out where they source their produce and other items with a handmade map of Florida and beyond right when you walk in. But it’s not just nutritional dishes that they’ve mastered, it’s the art of making health-conscious decisions second nature, without disrupting what we all love to do most: eat. As you dig into your chili or let the cheese ooze tenderly out of your sandwich, you might get so lost in the moment you may not realize you just made a dozen healthy decisions in one order.
Sitting down with DIRT’s General Manager – Jeff Latulippe, and Executive Chef – Nicole Votano, you understand why authenticity and unlikely pairings are high on the list of frequently used seasonings at the locale. A finance wiz and Philly native, Latulippe was brought to South Florida for work and eventually was inspired to call it home. Struck with the concept behind a produce-conscious restaurant that would turn fast casual on its head, serendipity brought Votano into the mix, a culinary nomad with big local names like Fooq’s already under her belt. They’re the type of kind-hearted souls dead set on doing what they love for the betterment of everyone else. The two are as down to earth as can be, just like the moniker they ultimately chose for their vision.
As the seasons change, so do the ripe plants and produce, following the rhythm of the rising and falling temperatures. At DIRT, although some staples may remain, a bulk of the menu is transformed for each harvest, infused with the flavors of the seasons only to ensure the best produce year-round. We were lucky enough to have a little taste (pun very much intended) of what’s to come. Autumn staples like pumpkin, carrot, cauliflower, lentils, and Brussel sprouts are transformed by (here it comes again) the unlikely pairing of sherry, hemp seeds, sesame, sunflower, and almond. Everything at DIRT is so simply delivered, making the quality of its produce and its relentless desire to incorporate local collaborations take center stage. That’s Zak the Baker bread under your Roasted Carrot + Sesame Dip, local arugula in your DIRT x Little Haiti Community Garden Bowl, and Jojo Tea in your DIRT x Jojo Chai Tea Soda (an absolute must try). We also had the DIRT Veggie Burger which sky-rocketed to the top of our list of favorite local burgers, unsurprisingly.
In an age of highly-processed meals and need for instant gratification, places like DIRT are an absolute treasure. It may be something that is already a key trait of living in places like the West Coast, but we love seeing creative people taking a risk and reaping the reward in heaping bunches. If the mixed greens and kale talk isn’t your thing, don’t worry. My sweet tooth was bright-eyed to discover that the absolute best peanut butter cookie in Miami is under DIRT’s roof, and guess what? It’s gluten-free. Congratulations to everyone on the DIRT team, the smiles are more than well-deserved. Even if there may be a piece of spinach in them 😉