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Reservations Recommended

As Green as it Gets = sweetgreen

Sweet!!!

As in sweetgreen, the supreme salad-bar-as-green-eatery in Dupont Circle, and with any luck, coming to your neighborhood in a day or two. Located just adjacent to the über-popular Sunday FRESHfarm Dupont farmers’ market, sweetgreen really does get its greens farm fresh: staff can run over to do some salad shopping Sunday mornings, getting greens if not for the week — well, greens for that day.

If you don’t know the story behind this local success story, here you go:

The three owners/partners graduated from Georgetown about two-and-a-half years ago or so, having met as seniors who had attended the same entrepreneurship class, though at different times. What started out as a senior project — they say they were tired of the local eateries near campus — the trio drew up plans for a fast-food kind of place that was based on primarily local and sustainable ingredients.

At first, their project — the original location of sweetgreen was on M Street in the former White Castle burger place – was scoffed by people around them, and one of the contractors simply told them to quit the venture. Fortunately, the trio — Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru, and Jonathan Neman — forged ahead, building a loyal customer base which swarmed into the M Street location despite the fact that seating was virtually nonexistent.

But after their frantic participation with the inaugural events last year and their high-profile move to Dupont Circle, the guys have seen their green empire burgeon. “We are about to open five more sweetgreens by the end of 2010,” says Jammet. He ticks off Logan Circle and another near Union Station. Although he’s mum about the other projected sites, he points out that sweetgreen now has its own greenmobile that scoots around DC selling their frozen yogurt and salads. “People can follow us on Twitter,” he says, for those who crave a salad and are within walking distance of the van, “and we can go to parties or companies can rent out the van.”

Obviously, what sweetgreen sells is not your ordinary salad fixings. When pressed about the all-time favorite, Jammet reckons that it’s the “guacamole greens,” a divine collaboration of creamy avocado, grilled chicken strips, tomatoes, crushed tortilla chips, and a splash of a lime-cilantro dressing that ties all the flavors together. (If you had just one salad choice for the rest of your days, this might be the one.) But, adds Jammet, the runner-up is the Greek-inspired Santorini. Hey, what about the La Scala with its ample topping of shredded salami and mozzarella cheese. It’s like having a pizza without the fattening crust.

The highlight of any meal here, of course, is the frozen yogurt, a sweet-tart treat that the partners spent weeks developing. As Jammet recalled, they made at least 100 batches of the prototype before they found the right sequence of sweet to tart. The result is a tooth-chilling dessert amplified by your choice of healthful toppings. Sorry, no gummy bears here.

Added to all this delicious and, well, sweet success, is that sweetgreen is certified green, as in everything in the store, including napkins and bowls, is biodegradable. So if you want to do your part in cleaning up the environs, you can lunch or dine at sweetgreen, and so to speak, have your cake and eat it too.

sweetgreen | 1512 Conn. Ave., NW; (202) 387-9338; www.sweetgreen.com. Open daily, 11am-10pm. Average signature salad price: $9 (and worth every penny!).

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.