2204 Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, Ocean Beach
Vegan fast food. It might sound like a contradiction in terms, but it’s out there, trying to be fast as can be without serving animal or animal by-product. Bankers Hill restaurant Evolution has been working this model for years, and it must be working because one of its founders decided to open a similar place near the beach.
Plant Power has a nearly identical menu to Evolution, but it’s located in OB, which makes it feel somehow more vegany. When you walk in you are greeted by a pair of tablet computers. You can order from these if it seems easier or faster than approaching the counter. Since I was confused by the menu of meatless fast-food items, I chose human interaction to get to the bottom of their vegan burger patties.
Here’s the scoop: you may opt for house-made tempeh or black bean patties (both gluten free) or a “beefy” patty made by national brand Gardein. You can get a gluten-free bun too, for an upcharge, or just have your burger served in cabbage.
Burger toppings include salsa and guacamole, “bacon” and “cheddar,” and sautéed mushrooms with “swiss cheese.” It’s like ordering from a regular fast food joint without any meat, sexy ads, or cartoon mascots.
I opted for a classic lettuce, tomato, and onion burger with the black bean patty. The mushy patty had some nice flavor but needed a little texture to stay burger-like within the bun. Anyone who likes beef burgers should skip the bean patty and avoid frustration by ordering off the non-burger side of the menu — maybe one of the “chicken” sandwiches, the faux California burrito, or a nice, what-you-see-is-what-you-get salad.
Vegans, vegetarians, and meatless-Monday adherents will be pleased with the variety here, especially the excellent nondairy milkshakes. If you’re into raw food, they have you covered as well. Check out the pre-prepared menu for the cabbage-wrapped raw walnut and sunflower seed burger patty, seasoned walnut and pecan cabbage-shell tacos, and a variety of rice or collard green wraps.
If there’s one place Power Plant falls short of fast-food expectations, it’s the price. At $6 to $8 per sandwich (plus $3 to make it a combo with fries and a vegan soda), you’ll spend more here than your bloodlusty friends at In-N-Out. But considering how inconvenient being a busy vegan used to be, having the choice to eat meat-free, non-GMO, genuine food on the fly can feel like a bargain.