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Miami-based Dirt Will Try to Feed Every Single Food Tribe in Ballston

An Arlington location is scheduled to open next spring.

An “autumn dirty bird’ dish from DIRT.
Courtesy of DIRT

Dirt, a health-oriented fast-casual concept from Miami, announced plans today to open a store inside the Ballston Exchange development in Arlington by spring 2019. After sprouting two restaurants in South Florida, the Northern Virginia location (4121 Wilson Boulevard) represents new territory for a company that began operations roughly three years ago.

In a news release, Dirt name-drops every food tribe under the sun, promising options for “omnivores, vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free diners, or those who are simply seeking delicious, high-quality food.” According to co-founder and general manager Jeff LaTulippe, the company’s goal was to fill that need with food that was “more than just kale and quinoa and grilled chicken.”

The proof of that philosophy can be found in the menu from the Brickell location. It runs two tall pages and incorporates sections such as breakfast, salads, bowls, seasonal plates, soups, toasts, sandwiches + wraps, and sides — and that’s just on the first sheet. The selection sometimes feels like food trend bingo: There’s matcha protein pancakes, an autumn poke bowl, and an avocado-kale tostada (kale!). There’s kombucha, coffee, tea, cold-pressed juice, and non-dairy “mylkshakes” made with plant milks and vegan ice cream.

Trying to be an all-encompassing source for so many diets is a tall order, but people are digging Dirt. Two years ago, the Miami New Times named it the best inexpensive restaurant in town. Dirt pops up on Eater Miami maps for healthy yet delicious dishes — the lemongrass chicken thigh wrap tucked in a collard green shell gets some love — and for Miami’s best açaí bowls.

Dirt is professing to be committed to finding local, sustainable sources for ingredients and committing to clean energy. Its businesses are certified by by REAL (Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership), a third-party program developed by the United States Healthful Food Council.

According to the release, Dirt is excited about Ballston because its a neighborhood that boasts a high ratio of gyms per person. A 33-seat space will ask customers to order at a counter but will have a full-service, “counter-casual” feel. “We bring your order to you, with real plates and silverware and linen napkins, check on you during your meal, and clean your table after you leave,” director of operations JJ McDaniel says. “Trays and bus tubs are purposely absent from the Dirt dining experience.”