I arrived in San Francisco for the Foodbuzz Festival very late last Thursday and had most of Friday free to do other things before the the festival began. Any time I visit the bay area, seeing my Aunt Deb is a top priority. Deb is my mom’s youngest sister, who moved out to San Francisco many years ago before I was born, and it is always a treat to spend time with her when I am there.
We met up for lunch on Friday near her office. We had done lunch at the Ferry Building several times before and decided to look for something else. Neither of us was ravenous and it was a fantastic day out, so Deb suggested we just walk along the Embarcadero for a bit and see what we find.
I expected most restaurants there to be slightly touristy, pulling visitors in with the attractive views of the water but offering only mediocre food. So I was surprised when not two blocks from the Ferry Building, we came across The Plant Organic Cafe. The menu looked excellent, with several vegetarian options and an emphasis on local produce. The interior is modern but warm, with a brushed steel countertop and lots of green tones and natural light. We chose to sit out on the patio where we could enjoy views of the bay.
The lunch menu has a little bit of everything: salads, sandwiches, small plates, veggie burgers, and larger entrees. Deb chose the Roasted Chicken Avocado sandwich with tomato, sprouts, mixed greens and honey mustard on sourdough.
I was deciding between a very tempting ricotta, fig, and caramelized onion pizza, and a Plant burger. I saw no fewer than six people in the restaurant eating the burger, so I ended up choosing that. The Plant burger is house-made with lentils, mushrooms, beets, cashews, and bulgur. It comes with roasted onions, lettuce, tomato and aioli on multigrain bread, with a side of greens and roasted potatoes. I ordered mine with avocado and swiss on top. I got a kick out of the color of the burger, and how it resembled a very rare beef burger.
Veggie burgers tend so often to be dry, but this one was perfectly moist, thanks to the beets and the mix of ingredients. I was glad I ordered it with cheese and avocado, for the added texture and richness, and caramelized onions are always a welcome addition to a burger. The potatoes were cooked unevenly, but I did not care in the slightest as the sandwich alone was more than enough food. The ingredients on the sandwich were flavorful and very fresh. I was extremely happy with both the quality of the food and the ambiance. And the company!
They have a tempting selection of cookies, cupcakes, tarts and more, with both dairy-free and gluten-free options. We chose a vegan chocolate peanut butter cupcake. I would not recommend it. The frosting was good–you can’t really go wrong with peanut butter and sugar–but the chocolate cake was almost completely tasteless.
I was so happy about the gorgeous weather, as I was told multiple times by Deb and other locals that this time of year can be hit or miss.
I took this last shot to try and capture just how steep the hills are.
Seeing Deb, eating good food, beautiful weather, and playing tourist–I could not have asked for a more lovely way to start my trip.