photo by Jonathan Morris
Situated in the back of the Silver Spring Whole Foods sits a small, green-tinted booth that churns out kosher and vegan takes on American fast food. PLNT Burger, created by celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn, is a fast-casual restaurant that opened in September 2019.
Everything on the menu is vegan and certified Kosher under the DC Kosher hechsher. PLNT Burger seeks to take classic American favorites and make them plant-based. Burgers are made with Beyond Meat, bacon is made from mushrooms and soft-serve ice cream is crafted from oat milk.
PLNT Burger offers a limited menu, offering several iterations of burgers, sausage and chili, all of which are priced under ten dollars. PLNT Burger offers reasonably priced herbed fries, salad and blooming onions as sides and exclusively serves Honest Tea beverages, although cups for water are also available.
Because PLNT Burger shares the space with Whole Foods, it has no dedicated seating area of its own, and, depending on the time of day, parking in the Whole Foods lot can be difficult. This means that you are competing with shoppers for a space to eat as well as a place to park.
After ordering at the counter, you are handed a buzzer and can begin the hunt for a seat. This did not make for the most cleanly or pleasant dining experience.
On the day I visited, an exclusive “CHIK’N Fun Guy burger” was available for Valentine’s Day. I visited with Davida Goldman (‘20) and ordered the chicken burger while she ordered the bacon cheeseburger. We shared an order of the herbed French fries.
Despite the seating shortage, my food was excellent. The mushroom chicken was expertly fried with a pleasing, crispy exterior and prepared in a way that mimicked chicken’s texture and flavor. The vegetables, sauce and subtly-toasted bun contributed to a dynamic and cohesive flavor profile.
Goldman felt that her burger had too many flavors and lacked the taste and simplicity of a traditional cheeseburger. Both of us enjoyed the fries immensely. The herbs enhanced the overall flavor and the fries were cut in an interesting way that made scooping the various condiments and sauces easy.
Their “Flow-Zone” soft serve was developed by local gelateria Dolcezza, known for its excellent craft gelato. Although I did not have it on this visit, I’ve enjoyed “Flow-Zone” on a separate occasion and found it light and refreshing, but it was nonetheless clear that I was not enjoying conventional ice cream.
Whole Foods offers customers the ability to compost the majority of materials used during the meal, which tracks with PLNT Burger’s green mission.
Since I keep Kosher, whereas Goldman does not, I did not know what I was “missing” and had fewer qualms about the meal. PLNT Burger is great for the vegan or vegetarian among us and is excellent for the kosher-keeping crowd looking for an additional option, but it may fall short for the average consumer. PLNT Burger is also incredibly convenient if you are already shopping at Whole Food or live nearby, but it isn’t necessarily worth a visit solely for lunch.
PLNT Burger is located inside Whole Foods at 833 Wayne Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Delivery and curbside pickup is now available during the COVID-19 outbreak.