Good to Go

Sweetgreen in Georgetown

Sweetgreen specializes in fresh salads -- and a standout frozen yogurt.
Sweetgreen specializes in fresh salads -- and a standout frozen yogurt. (By Michael Williamson -- The Washington Post)
Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The food media jumped on the story of Sweetgreen even before it opened. And no wonder. It made a great headline: Savvy Georgetown Grads Open Salad Takeout to Feed Hunger for Healthy Food. But could three 22-year-olds, just three months out of college, actually deliver?

So far, so good. Sweetgreen opened Aug. 1 in the cozy space that used to house the Little Tavern hamburger shop on M Street. And the quality of the ingredients -- 30 percent organic and growing -- already has the office crowd and the college kids lining up to squeeze into the shiny, eco-chic space.

On the menu are very fresh, made-to-order salads, wraps and a deliciously tart homemade frozen yogurt. For $6 you can choose from organic mesclun, spinach, romaine or baby arugula, then add three of 37 toppings, plus one "crunch," which includes items such as toasted almonds, sunflower seeds and wasabi peas. It would be easy to add more -- though that will cost you extra -- but you don't need to. We were pleasantly satisfied with our mix of baby arugula, kalamata olives, roasted peppers and feta with Sweetgreen's homemade hummus lemon tahini dressing.

If all that seems too complicated, the "chef crafted" salads ($9) are enticing, too. The Guacamole Greens, advertised as a "deconstructed" guacamole, is faddish in concept but delicious in practice: It tosses mesclun with avocado, cilantro, candy-sweet grape tomatoes, red onion and crushed tortilla chips and tops it with homemade cilantro-lime dressing with a subtle jalapeno kick. Le Parisien offers up roasted turkey, brie, pears, toasted almonds and champagne vinaigrette, a wonderful combination (though we would have preferred real turkey meat to the deli-processed stuff.)

The frozen yogurt (small, $4; large, $6; both with three toppings), however, might be what really wins over crowds. It's unflavored and has the delightful tang of real yogurt -- which is what it is. The founders spent six months developing the recipe, which includes nonfat yogurt, skim milk, lemon juice and a tiny bit of sugar. Even better, it's only 18 calories an ounce, a sign that Sweetgreen's team has already delivered on its promise of fast, healthful food to go.

-- Jane Black

Sweetgreen, 3333 M St. NW, Georgetown, 202-337-9338, Hours: Mondays-Fridays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 8 p.m.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company