As someone who is trying to eat more fresh foods and less processed ones, sweetgreen is right up my alley. Taking the salad bar to another level, it features creative combinations of ingredients and lots of opportunity for customization to get just the flavor you’re craving. It aims to be creative, authentic, and sustainable with their food, locations, and company overall.
My first time going was for the opening of the sweetgreen in Crystal City, VA in the mall right under PBS (where I was freelancing). It’s definitley cute, and feels very trendy. Crisp, modern decor, with very natural wooden accents matches the tone of the meals they serve. I love how they use a big chalk board to display what part of the country their ingredients are from, and use local ones whenever possible (although there was plenty that was shipped over from California).
Going through the line is pretty stressful - it’s like Chipotle but with twice as many servers shuffling past each other and 3 times as many options at each station. There was one time I ordered a bowl, looked down at my phone for a second, and when I looked up my bowl had skipped down to the end of the line. It actually requires effort to keep track of where you food is, where it’s going, and which questions are being addressed to you. Luckily, you can stick with their pre-designed salads if all that choice is just too overwhelming (I usually let them take care of it, they're pros). But I do especially like that they ask if you want your salad lightly, medium, or heavily dressed. In my opinion, there’s no quicker way to kill a salad than to smother it in ranch. At sweetgreen, I’ve no need to worry.
The food is good, and not only in that it's tasty, but also in that you have a wholesome feeling as you’re eating it. The “green” feeling runs through the entire experience, from the name to the restaurant design to the leafy veggies to the compostable utensils. I found that the salad I tried wasn’t very filling, but the grain bowls were. The side of bread that they offer helps you to get a little more bang for your buck (and they’re not cheap). The soda options are enchanting with unusual flavor combinations.
These are the dishes I’ve tried so far:
Rad Thai - too light for me
As per the menu: organic arugula + organic mesclun, sprouts, carrots, shredded cabbage, spicy sunflower seeds, cucumbers, basil, citrus shrimp, spicy cashew dressing
This was the first thing I tried and I was left disappointed. I felt that the toppings-to-greens ratio was way too low; I could use a little more heft (and a few more calories). I wasn’t as full as I like to be at lunch, and was hungry again well before the end of the day. Cool intention, but missed the mark.
Bento Bowl - great use of fish
As per the menu: roasted steelhead, organic wild rice, organic baby spinach, cucumber, shredded cabbage, tomato, nori furikake, miso sesame ginger dressing
I’m currently pesca vegan (vegan + seafood), so I appreciate it when there are ways to integrate fish into my meal. They had a few different dishes that incorporated fish and I really liked this one. The serving of fish was a healthy one, the overall taste and texture was pleasant, and the dressing was an excellent touch.
Wild Child - my favorite
As per the menu: organic wild rice + organic baby spinach, cilantro, peppers, raw beets, shredded cabbage, carrots, raw seeds, avocado, miso sesame ginger dressing
This one is hands-down my favorite and my current go-to choice. It’s filling, has a nice mix of flavors, and afterwards you feel like you’ve eaten something hearty but healthy. I’m a huge avocado fan, and I’m a total sucker for sesame ginger dressing. This is the one they were handing out as free samples by the door, and I can definitely see why - tantalizingly tasty.
If there’s a sweetgreen near you, I’d recommend you check it out. The line for the opening of this one in Crystal City was out the door and around the corner with a 30 minute wait! It’s certainly died down since then, with the wait more like 10 or 15 minutes, but I suspect that particularly with the PBS lunch crowd, sweetgreen will absolutely flourish in this location.