On a beautiful day when I’m feeling like putting something healthy into my body, I head to The Plant Café Organic, an open and fun space right along the water on The Embarcadero.
The restaurant, which specializes in organic and sustainable food with a ton of vegetarian options, has grown to a bona fide local chain, with four other locations and a new space at the San Francisco International Airport.
But the original Embarcadero space has the advantage of the view and lots of room for people watching on a beautiful day, which we’ve had a few lately in the Bay Area. I went once with my friend, Craig, who’s a semi-vegetarian (he eats mostly vegetables but seafood sometimes).
Dining at the Bar
We sat at the bar, which isn’t as popular as the patio space but still a lot of fun because of the friendly bartender who mixes a strong Bloody Mary. The menu has a mix of salads, sandwiches, pizza and noodle dishes. We both went for the plant burger, which is a non-meat burger patty made with lentils, mushrooms, beets, cashews and bulgar wheat.
The burger (there’s about four varieties) actually looks more like a sandwich, although the patty does have a nice meaty texture (but not exactly). My version was the wasabi plant burger ($14.50), and while it was filling, it didn’t have much of a wasabi flavor. My sandwich/burger actually looked a lot like Craig’s California Plant Burger, which had the addition of avocado.
Our bartender was nice enough to let us add some of the specialty salads to our burger for an extra fee, so I tried the Dino kale salad, which also seemed to lack much flavor, and Craig tried the roasted beet salad.
On another visit I tried the specialty pizza – a broccoli rabe pizza with basil pesto, cheese, and chili flakes ($14). The thin-crust pizza had a chewy texture, and I liked the flavor of the broccoli rabe. The pizza looked a bit odd in color with the lime-green basil pesto.
The Last Bite
There was always something a bit off with everything I ate, like the mango smoothie ($6.50) that had a medicinal twang to it. You definitely know that you’re eating a lot of substitutes or faux meat items, and while organic and healthy for you, it’s not the most exciting.
Still, the Plant Café has great service and a fun, hip natural décor that makes it a nice spot to drop in on a sunny day for a healthy meal.
The Plant Café, Pier 3, The Embarcadero, San Francisco. PH: 415.984.1973. Open lunch, Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m.; brunch, weekends, 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m.; and dinner daily, 5–8 p.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.theplantcafe.com
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