Saturday, May 22, 2021

PLNT Burger Review

Both for health reasons and environmental ones, I'm interested in incorporating more plant-based fare into my gluten-free diet. Of course fresh fruit and veggies are very important, but I'm also definitely not opposed to plant-based food that's a little more in the mold of conventional fast food fare. Plant-based and crave-busting food? I'm definitely more than intrigued.

A fast food concept fitting that mold has recently set up shop at a few local Whole Foods Market locations in DC, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. With an 100% vegan menu that's super gluten-free friendly, I placed PLNT burger at the top of my post-lockdown emergence list because I figured it'd be an excellent option to satisfy my pent-up fried food cravings-- something I can't quite quash with home cooking.


PLNT Burger's menu is pretty compact with a choice of several sandwiches, fried sides, and "milk" shakes. They also have a handy allergen guide, which advises that any of the sandwiches can be made gluten-free by swapping a gluten-free bun or a swiss chard wrap. The only other gluten-containing item is the cookies. 

Oat-sensitive people should be aware too that the non-dairy soft serve is made with oatmilk (made by Dolcezza), so avoid the frozen treats if you are sensitive to (or avoiding) oats. 

Other menu notes, most of the plant-based burgers are made using Beyond Meat's patties. The dairy-free cheese substitute used is from Follow Your Heart. 

For my taste test, I waffled quite a bit, but ultimately decided to order the spicy "chik 'n funguy" sandwich. Better late than never to get into the perpetual chicken sandwich war game- sans chicken of course!

Unlike the burgers, the chik 'n funguy sandwich is not made with Beyond Meat, but instead is crafted from mushrooms. I made sure to request the gluten-free bun, and the sandwich also comes topped with lettuce, pickle, tomato, mayo, hot sauce, and a peperjack cheese substitute.

At fist glance, it definitely looked the part, but the real showstopping moment was my first bite. Having not had a chicken sandwich since my gluten-eating days nearly a decade ago, it absolutely delivered flavor-wise and texture wise to what I expected for a spicy chicken sandwich. 

I loved the crispy, yet chewy mushroom "chik 'n" and the sauces provided nice bursts of flavor. Despite being the spicy version of this sandwich, it wasn't overpoweringly so. Playing a supporting role beyond expectations, I was also impressed by the freshness of the lettuce and tomato topping the sandwich. Unfortunately the sandwich had one weak link: the gluten-free bun. Though it delivered on providing a facsimile of a gluten-full sandwich, it got more crumbly as I ate the sandwich, and wasn't really good on it's own (I had a section left after eating the sandwich stuffings).

To round out the full fast food experience, I ordered one of their organic sodas (orange cardamom) and side order of bloomies (think miniature blooming onions). The soda was sweet, and had a lovely orange flavor, and was thankfully not super sweet. The bloomies definitely delivery on the blooming onion taste and texture, and are crispy fried to perfection. Unfortunately, the onions have a bit of an aftertaste, so I'm not sure I would order them again, opting instead for the sweet potato or herbed fries. 

Overall, I was really impressed by PLNT Burger, and will definitely be working in visits whenever I need to do a grocery store or library run (it's right next to the Whole Foods). I tend not to order plant burgers when I go out, but PLNT Burger is definitely a paradigm shift, and proves that removing animal byproducts definitely does not have to diminish the fast food experience. 

As a reliably gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan fast food restaurant, I also love that their presence in Whole Foods Markets makes this kind of food all the more accessible. Maybe they'll pop up at a store near you someday soon!

The Basics

Address: 833 Wayne Ave (inside Whole Foods Market), Silver Spring, MD 20910
Cuisine: Fast food 
Ideal For: Lunch and Dinner
Price: See prices on their website
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible

Disclaimer: This review is based upon the information I have at the time of the review and does not reflect changes in ingredients or availability of items. Please contact the restaurant directly for up-to-date information and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. I was not compensated for this review and it is a reflection of my personal opinion.

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