First Impressions: Sweet Green

sweetgreen tweetThe Tribeca location of Sweet Green arrives with tremendous buzz. Tweets like the one at right are common, and they certainly build expectations.

The brand has 24 outposts on the Eastern seaboard, from D.C. to Boston; this is its second in New York City (the other is in NoMad). There are obvious reasons why people might respond to it: Sweet Green sources some of its produce locally, and some is organic; it’s eco-sensitive (you can compost pretty much everything, and the decor incorporates reclaimed materials); and it’s community minded (it partners with local fitness studios, and for today’s pay-what-you-want soft opening, all proceeds went to Edible Schoolyard). Its core values are posted behind the counter, along with Alice Waters books for sale; even the napkins have the kind of feel-good text you see on Instagram.

So far, so good! And the room is handsome in the way that fast-casual restaurants are these days, with the added bonus of those great doors and windows you remember from Il Mattone. There are only eight stools, though, along a wobbly table that’s too narrow to sit at straight-on. Moreover, the considerable clatter, intra-staff communication, and rock music (Sweet Green also runs a music and food festival called Sweetlife) produce quite the cacophony. Every time I interacted with staffers—you get passed down the line, Chipotle-style—I had to ask them to repeat themselves. I was possibly feeling the effects of a decongestant-espresso speedball, and it’s likely that I’m old. Is it not galling that, as our hearing gets worse, loud noise bothers us more? Anyway, there’s lots of seating outside.

The menu includes suggested salad combinations and a make-your-own option. I ordered the Guacamole Greens, with no chicken or raw onions, thinking I could compare it to the Mesclun, Adzuki & Guac salad at nearby Juice Press. The speedball may be why I didn’t bother finishing my salad, but some blame must fall on the unripe avocado and the hard-as-rock grape tomatoes. If you were blindfolded, could you really tell it wasn’t from one of the many Midtown salad joints?

Sweet Green tweet2That said, we’re not in Midtown, and Citi workers and women in yogawear are already lining up in droves. Those of you who eat meat will also probably prefer Sweet Green, which, I should mention, does get points for fresh-squeezing the lime in the dressing and asking if I wanted something in place of the chicken and onions. And the strawberry-mint lemonade was tasty.

Sweet Green is at 413 Greenwich St. (at Hubert), 646-922-8572;

Sweet Green facadeSweet Green roomSweet Green salad barSweet Green dressingsSweet Green guac saladSweet Green local listSweet Green signSweet Green napkinRecent New Kid on the Block/First Impressions articles:
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  1. Erik, do you know when Just Salad on Hudson Street above Canal is due to open?

  2. With all the buzz, you still got hard tomatoes and unripe avocado? This doesn’t make me want to go running over when there are so many other salad options in the neighborhood.