Eating healthy isn’t something that comes easy for us. As food bloggers, it’s especially difficult to follow a “clean eating” plan when we’re bombarded with unhealthy delicious creations left and right. Who has time for fruit bowls, smoothies and wraps? No, thank you.
It wasn’t until we came across DIRT last month that our mindset made a 180-degree turn. The team behind the new healthy eatery on Miami Beach has figured out a way to make eating clean a satisfying and tasty experience — and one worth repeating. In other words, DIRT makes us wish all healthy food tasted this good.
Located on 232 5th Street, DIRT’s kitchen is led by a familiar face in the Miami food scene: Chef Nicole Votano, formerly of Downtown Miami’s Fooq’s. She’s developed a seasonal menu full of variety and flavor that perfectly reflects the restaurant’s goal of delivering innovative, delicious and healthful cuisine — all in an uplifting environment. You can’t help but feel healthy the second you set foot into the place, and that feeling is amplified a hundredfold once you try the offerings.
When we say the menu is full of variety, we mean it. The extensive selections span breakfast, lunch and dinner; there’s everything from light bites such as toasts and bowls to heartier fare like seasonal plates, sandwiches and wraps. Looking for vegan, vegetarian, paleo and gluten-free options? They have all those bases covered, too; they’ve left no stone unturned.
In our experience, restaurants that offer so many different options have a tough time maintaining quality across the board. It sometimes feels like certain things on such an extensive menu are really well-thought out while other selections are put on the menu just to offer them — they’re afterthoughts. That’s not the case at DIRT, where everything on the menu has a rhyme and reason. Chef Votano has put a lot of effort and love into the menu, and we’re sure each plate tastes as good as it sounds. How do we know this? We ate a lot.
Like we mentioned earlier, not only does the food taste good, but you just feel good, too. After starting our meal with two tasty smoothies — the Recover and Defense — we were ready to seize the day with new-found energy. The former with its strawberries, cucumber, watermelon, lime and Bee Free Honee made for a refreshing thirst-quencher that we could have day after day. Despite its description, it was perfectly balanced — it’s not as sweet as you’d expect but just enough to appease your taste buds. The Defense smoothie with its blueberries, pineapple, mango and acai was equally awesome and perfect for the South Florida heat.
As for food, the dragon fruit bowl is a vibrant, colorful dish that’s a satisfying portion size; it’s so flavorful and filling that you could totally have a bit for breakfast and save the rest for later. There are so many components to the bowl: Dragon fruit, banana, and pineapple, blended with almond & Brazil nut mylk, and topped with blueberries, banana, kiwi, granola. Not one ingredient feels out of place, though. It all mixes together so well.
A quick word about toast: toast isn’t exactly the most exciting thing to eat, so you may be tempted to skip this section of the menu. Under no circumstances should you do that. At DIRT, the toasts are mind-blowing. Yes, we just used mind-blowing to describe toast. Yes, you may have a hard time believing that, but trust us.
One bite into the almond butter and strawberry jam toast, and you’ll be singing its praises, too. An all-around excellent light bite, this unassuming spread on Zak the Baker bread paced a flavorful wallop. We couldn’t believe something so simple could be this good.
Our heartier fare was just as impressive. The crispy fish po’boy with quinoa-crusted fish and zucchini jalapeno slaw will fill you up without filling you out while delivering an appetizing kick and crunch. We still think about the crusty bread all the time.
Since the menu changes seasonally, we had to order the winter plate before it got swapped out. The dish — root vegetable mash with grilled kale and your choice of protein — tasted like winter. There was really no other way to describe it. If winter tasted like something, it would taste like this heavenly creation. We opted for grass-fed butcher’s cut steak, and holy crap that was some good meat.
We walked out of DIRT with full and happy stomachs. But although we were full, we didn’t hate ourselves like we do after other meals. We felt good and energized for once. Chef Votano and the DIRT team have changed our minds about healthy food — it can be nutritious and tasty. We’re pretty sure DIRT will convert you, too.
DIRT // Eat Clean is located at 232 5th St. on Miami Beach. For hours of operation and other information, visit their Facebook page or call 305-239-3000.