Dirt Candy: Amanda Cohen’s Vegetarian Heaven Coming Soon to Allen Street

A busy waitress tending to tables in the vegetarian East Village hotspot, Dirt Candy.

For more than five years now, Chef Amanda Cohen has been doing magical things with vegetables in her tiny East Village restaurant, Dirt Candy. With across-the-board critical acclaim (including two stars from the Times) and a devoted following packing the place nightly, Cohen's Dirt Candy, which is more than ready for an expansion. "Dirt Candy 2.0" or as she calls it, "Big Candy" will open its spacious new digs on Allen Street in November. 

The fried and delicious sweet & sour jalepeno hush puppies served from Dirt Candy in the East Village

What is Dirt Candy? 

Much of the Dirt Candy menu changes with the season, and because we caught the tail end of Cohen's winter offerings when we went last week, your meal might be considerably different. One thing's for certain, though: you must order the sweet-n-spicy Jalapeno Hush Puppies, which Cohen serves year round and comes with a crock of maple butter so transcendent that you won't be ashamed to spoon directly into your mouth. Our other starter was the Spinach! (exclamation point Cohen's), which is structured like a mille-feuille with layers of the green leafy vegetable whipped into varying degrees of intensity, complemented by ricotta and smoked pistahios. Phenomenal.

Spinach!, one of the delicious appetizers served at Chef Amanda Cohen's restaurant, Dirt Candy, in the East Village

Welcome to Vegetrian Heaven 

There are only four entrees on the Dirt Candy menu, but we still had a hard time narrowing it down to two. In the end, Corn! and Beets! prevailed, which we liked pretty much equally, which is to say: a lot. The Corn! was in the form of grits, topped with a "tempura-fried egg" and pickled shiitake mushrooms. The Beets! were roasted, exploding with flavor, and paired with fiery Thai green curry and gingery whipped galangal coconut cream. For dessert, the choice for us was obvious: Popcorn Pudding, which is rich, smooth, and butterscotchy and comes with a side of caramel corn. What a great meal. And though the space is cramped, the atmosphere is so pleasant and convivial that you won't mind chatting with your neighbors, or with Chef Cohen, who tends to make the rounds.

A close-up shot of an entree served from Dirt Candy located in the East Village

Menu & More Info on Dirt Candy

Dirt Candy is located in the East Village, on 9th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A, and is open at 5:30 on Tuesday through Saturday, with a last seating at 10:00 on Tuesday and Wednesday, and at 10:30 on Thursday to Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. And again, reservations are almost certainly required. For more info, check out the great blog and complete menu at Dirt Candy.

Dirt Candy on Urbanspoon

Posted in Downtown, NYC Dining, Top Picks | Tagged