Dirt Candy Review — Lower East Side, New York
One thing that I always remember about this place is how small their original restaurant was in the East Village all those years ago — they said it sat 25, but I swear it was more like 12. Now they've grown into Lower East Side behemoth!
THE BEST VIBES EVER GUIDE TO DIRT CANDY
✧ What to order: I think my favorite all-time item on their menu is the Korean Fried Broccoli. Oh, is it delicious. If you're looking for something that's not a side (lol) I have to recommend the Brussels Sprouts Tacos. First of all, they come out sizzling — I definitely had a moment of where am I, a Chili's? moment — on top of a brick of lava. Whoa. Then there's a giant array of toppings for your bibb lettuce base — cashew sour cream, guac, pickled onions, radishes, jalapenos, and these cute, teeny-tiny little tortilla strips. A definite if you love vegan-mexican food.
✧ The Vibe: Pretty classy, actually! It's a large and clean spot with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the LES. You have the option to sit at the bar and actually watch this talented crew of chefs make your meals in front of you, if you'd like!
✧ What to Expect: This depends on when you go, to be honest. Dirt Candy changed their menus last year so now you can only order individual items during weekend brunch. Otherwise, you'll be ordering from two Prix Fixe options — the Vegetable Patch [five courses] for $58 and Vegetable Garden [9 to 10 courses] for $84. For a much cheaper option, try brunch.
You should also know that Dirt Candy asks that you do not tip their servers, or as they put it:
"The short answer is that I want to pay all my employees a better wage, and the only way to do that is to eliminate tipping and raise my prices by 20%. Originally I had a 20% administrative fee, but I've now rolled that 20% into the menu prices. Your meal still costs the same amount of money, only now instead of hiding 20% of the cost of your meal as a "tip" or "admin fee" it's right there in plain sight. This allows me to raise the salaries of all my staff, from my dishwashers to my cooks to my servers."
The first time I went this kinda stressed me out. I wanted to tip on top of my check so badly, But weirdly I feel like this makes the servers and staff so much...happier than a standard restaurant? I feel like I can say that since I waited tables for a few years. They all take turns serving you and there's always a staffer in sight if you need anything. Honestly, this staff is the best!
✧ Dietary restrictions: It's an all-vegetarian spot, and all but one item can be made vegan. Beware that these foods are NOT sugar-free or super healthy by any means... but they ARE super tasty!!
✧ Portion control: Everything is great for splitting and sharing here. The tacos are definitely a two-person job!
✧ Hacks or tips: To save money and try only the few items you want, go to brunch! It's the only time they serve things a-la-carte. Also, the red pepper fritters are not what they seem — they're basically a cinnamon roll sans cinnamon plus jam!
✧ Location: 86 Allen St New York, NY 10002