Food & dining

Dining out

At Dig Inn, bowls worthy of the name

The glazed duck with brown rice.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
The glazed duck with brown rice.

Where to Dig Inn, a Back Bay outpost of the New York chain known for its seasonal, farm-focused, customizable fare.

What for A fast meal that’s not fast food, made and served thoughtfully.

The scene The queue is a crush of suits, summer dresses, strollers, and one giant, drooling service dog. Everyone wants lunch (well, the dog mainly wants water, in a compostable bowl), and to get it, we must wait. Strangers strike up conversations until, finally, reaching the assembly line where Dig Inn’s “marketbowls” are made. The drill: Choose among greens, brown rice, or quinoa and bulgur as your base. Then pick two vegetable options and one protein. Add a drink if you want, pay, and move on to a table or back to your desk. It would be simple if there weren’t so many options. Those eating in get their food in ceramic bowls, repairing to communal tables surrounded by white marble, white brick, pale wood, and potted succulents. Dig Inn magazines hang from rings threaded on a rod on the wall. Diners proper in blazers, blouses, and pearls eat beside fashionistas in cream lace dresses over black bras or chambray shortalls. A baby flirts through the window with a sun worshiper eating on the patio. Young professionals toss around marketing buzzwords: “Engagement,” one intones sagely, and they all nod. On the wall is a list of “Dig-isms”: buy food from farms, roll with the seasons, make meals from scratch, cook for a person, serve mostly vegetables, eat at a table, nurture the next crop.

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What you’re eating Dig Inn is open from breakfast through dinner, and it’s always Instagram-friendly. Mornings bring the likes of a farm egg in a glass, overnight oats, and avocado toast. Later in the day, bowls brim with salads of watermelon, radish, mint, and jalapeno; kale with peaches; summer succotash; and many more. Then add avocado, meatballs, chicken thigh or breast, salmon, steak, or tofu. Nothing is labeled, but the person assembling your bowl — “Hi, I’m Dan” — will tell you what’s what.

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Care for a drink? Dig Inn offers a full complement of Counter Culture coffee drinks, matcha lattes, and kid’s steamers, plus Spindrift seltzer, kombucha on tap, beer, and wine.

Overheard Confused customers, solicitous staff, victorious vegetarians. “Would you like avocado with that? How about a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt?” inquires a bowl assembler. “Oh, I love the tofu, it’s my favorite, but not many people are vegetarian,” says another. “I’m new to this,” a woman says. "What’s good?” “It’s so loud in here!” someone else hollers. “I know,” her friend replies. “I said grains, but I got greens.” Plans are made in line: “We gotta get drunk and go bowling,” someone says. And even amid the ruckus, love blossoms. “You should wear that dress,” a young man murmurs to his ladyfriend adoringly. She smiles sweetly: “What, the one that was in your dream?”

557 Boylston St., Back Bay, Boston, 617-904-3711, www.diginn.com.


Devra First can be reached at dfirst@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.