For evidence that San Francisco financial district workers want organic food and are willing to pay for it, visit the Plant at noon on any given weekday.
By then, the line is growing at the nine-month-old café, which serves a mix of salads, burgers, wraps and juices, made in-house with nearly all organic ingredients.
The downtown location is the third for the locally owned concern, which has a similar café on Steiner Street and a café-restaurant on Pier 3.
The café's mission of offering fresh organic food means some items are more expensive than standard downtown fare. Popular dishes include masala vegetable stew—a light curry with flatbread—for $5, and lasagna with mushrooms, arugula, cheese and tomato marinara for $8. The Plant burger, for $9.50, is a patty made of lentils, mushrooms, beets, cashews and bulgur wheat.
To speed service, the Plant dedicates two registers to take-out orders. Shannon Blalack, general manager of the downtown location, says she has tried to speed up breakfast orders to cater to customers dashing to work.
Shannyn Kastner, an event organizer for Morgan Stanley, is a regular at the Plant and usually gets take-out lunch around 10:30 a.m. because she works New York market hours. "It's healthy, it's quality food and the service is amazing," she said recently after eating a build-your-own salad of spinach, pumpkin seeds, carrots and salmon.
The Plant's downtown location is at 101 California St. It is open 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
—Robert A. Guth