It’s been a gluttonous slog, but I’ve nearly worked my way through New York’s top vegetarian restaurants. Yet one has been left on the list for ages now: Dirt Candy.
There’s a reason it’s been on my list – unvisited – for a while. It’s a nightmare to get a reservation. When I decided to look for a spot in June – the wait (for a time that wasn’t 5pm or 11pm) was six weeks. Six. Weeks. It seemed a bit ridiculous to be booking so far ahead of time, but I knew I’d probably thank myself when I actually got there.
And yes, I really did.
I’ve been meat-free for more than 20 years and every time I go to a vegetarian restaurant in this city, I end up eating things I’ve never seen before. And that was the case with Dirt Candy more than any other restaurant. Its motto is in its name: we get plenty of treats from the dirt, so let’s make the most of them in new, creative and delicious ways.
(Two things before we start :: 1. It was very dark, so excuse the quality of the photos and 2. No judging for how much we consumed… It was so much that I actually couldn’t sleep.)
Starters of jalapeno hush puppies with maple butter – yes, creamy, hot and sweet all in one – and the ‘mushroom’ plate – earthy and crunchy and sweet.
Then mains. I had the ‘pepper’ (fennel & pepper tofu – those cork-looking things below – parsley spaetzle, grilled yellow pepper broth, mustard crumbs), while my date had ‘beet’ (salt-roasted beets, Thai green curry, beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream).
At this point, I was feeling pretty full, but when Ryan pointed out that it took nearly two months to get in, it didn’t take much to convince me to go for dessert. Especially because of how pretty the carrot meringue pie and salted popcorn custard looked.
Whereas a lot of other vegetarian places in New York (Candle 79, Blossom) serve up smart meat-free versions of meat-inspired dishes, such as sausages or seitan steaks, Dirt Candy wasn’t trying to be anything other than proud of its veg. It made for totally original, unbelievably delicious dishes.
And for you ‘eww vegetarians are no fun’ carnivores, I dare you to go and tell me you don’t love it. You’ll learn something about vegetarians’ ‘limited’ food options at least.
It’s a real pain to have to wait so long for a reservation, but if I were you, I’d book now while you have the reminder and forget about it for a month or two. It’s definitely worth the wait.
For more vegetarian restaurants, check out my list of my favorites in NYC. Dirt Candy needs to be added, obv.