Dirty Food is where to go in the Junction for homemade food done well. The interior is cheery and not quite diner-y, but has all the trappings of such a place, like barstools and chalkboards in frames advertising cute specials and menu items.
The “dirty” caesar ($7.50) is made with house beet juice. I’m more used to thinking of beet juice as purple, but the redness of the thin juice makes the red of the clamato pop. It’s garnished with a skewer of potent house pickled onion, bean, and green tomato.
The big ticket fried chicken ‘n’ waffle ’wich ($14.50) is a buttermilk-brined boneless chicken thigh with lettuce and Dirty Food mayo (a sort of play on ranch with hot sauce added) sandwiched between two fluffy buttermilk waffles and sprinkled with sweet hot candied jalapenos. It goes great with a few drops of house hot sauce.
It’s served with a crunchy, greasy drumstick on the side with more sweet and spicy jalapeno syrup. That all comes with slaw, which they change up the style of from time to time.
The salmon jonny cakes ($16) are a standout despite the pure indulgence of the waffle ’wich. The cakes combine cornmeal and buttermilk for a twist on tradition, and are topped with savoury-sweet beet-cured salmon, rich hollandaise and capers. It’s all served with a mixed greens salad with an impressive smoked tomato vinaigrette.
For a vegan, gluten-free option on this somewhat gluttonous menu, try the sweet potato cakes ($13) served with a house made preserve which is pear when we visit. It almost gives off the effect of a pear cobbler. The cakes are made with almond flour, coconut milk and potato starch, and the sweet potato isn’t too overbearing.
Another thoughtful veggie option is the side of fried green tomatoes ($2.50), meant to be as crunchy, filling and yummy as bacon.
There are no booths here, but there’s some high seating at high tables facing a banquette. Other than that, it’s basic tables with elementary-school-style chairs for seating.