Plant City opened in Providence, Rhode Island, on June 14, a 10,000-square-foot, 225-seat food hall that gathers six vegan food businesses — four restaurants, a cafe, and a market — together in one building.
A vegan food hall is a noteworthy concept in its own right with relatively few peers: While customers might be able to compare non-vegan food halls like Boston’s Eataly, Time Out Market, and the Public Market with each other, a couple of the only other places Plant City might be able to directly compare itself against are the V Shops in Miami and the recently opened St. Mark’s Vegan Food Court in New York City.
Plant City (334 South Water St., Providence) is the brainchild of Matthew Kenney, a chef and entrepreneur known for vegan and raw cooking. He has restaurants all around the world these days, but he’s a New England native, born in Connecticut and raised in coastal Maine.
His Plant City inspiration came from El Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, which — when he first encountered it — impressed him so much that he ended up spending a whole week there.
He also drew inspiration from — among other places — Al Forno in Providence (which you can see reflected a little bit in how the bar space is defined at New Burger, one of Plant City’s restaurants.)
But, more broadly, as Kenney told Eater when reached via email, “Plant-based cuisine is so new in terms [of its] relevancy [that] I believe ... providing a concept which allows guests to visit and simply have a coffee, or commit to a sit-down dinner, will help expand the global awareness of how incredible plant-based foods can be if well prepared and at the same time, offer nutritious, conscientious food options.”
It’s not difficult to find Plant City: If you’re heading south from RISD, Brown, or College Hill, you will find it at the corner of South Water and James Street, up against the river, as one of the few buildings standing before you hit a small stretch of greenery on your way to Fox Point and the southern tip of Providence.
Park and you can opt to make your way up a pathway to enter the building through the South Water Street side, which will take you directly up through the patio outside the building (where you will notice — among tables and chairs — some egg-pod-like wicker chairs swinging in the sunlight), or you can come down beneath some trees to enter the building through the South Main Street side.
The pace can move fairly quickly at Plant City, so it’s important to have a sense of direction: Once you enter, New Burger — a casual burger joint with a full bar — will be on your immediate left. Almost directly in front of you and curving away to your right in something of a corridor-like shape will be the coffee bar and marketplace. Across from the coffee bar are the items you’ll find in the marketplace, including various kinds of almond milk, kale and pinto bean papusas, kefir, and more.
Once you walk past the coffee bar and marketplace, you’ll find a dining area and counter for Make Out. Those coming and going from Make Out can create a bit of traffic when folks decide to stop at the coffee bar or marketplace.
Make Out’s menu follows what will be familiar to anyone who’s ever ordered a poke bowl, but — instead of ordering spicy ahi tuna atop some rice, as might be more likely with poke — you can mix together soy ginger quinoa, blistered shishito peppers, and charred broccoli rabe, covering it all with a sauce of citrus Sriracha or truffle cashew cream with mushrooms.
Another notable menu item at Make Out is a breakfast sandwich featuring tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, and butternut squash cheddar. Smoothies, avocado toast, and more are also available.
Once you’ve explored the first floor, you can head upstairs where the pace is a little bit slower. There are two full-service restaurants, the pizzeria Double Zero (its New York sibling has earned a Bib Gourmand ranking from the Michelin Guide) and the Latin American-inspired Bar Verde. Each takes reservations via OpenTable. Plus, Plant City will accommodate customers who are unable to access the second floor by serving those menus on the first floor or patio.
Bar Verde is the most immediate restaurant when you come up the stairs and is primarily defined by a rectangular wraparound bar. Double Zero is separated slightly by way of a few plants and by virtue of a quiet collection of hanging half-glowing globes.
At Bar Verde, diners shouldn’t skip the wild mushroom carnitas or the cauliflower al pastor tacos. In addition to tacos, there’s elote, burritos, mushroom and onion quesadillas, a jackfruit fajita bowl, and more.
Notable dinner menu items at Double Zero include the eggplant caponata and a truffle cashew cream pizza. If you stop by for brunch, keep an eye out for the almond ricotta pancake and the cauliflower parm sandwich.
Double Zero fans closer to Boston will get their own location soon; it’s slated to open at 163 Newbury St., Boston. While it was originally scheduled for a late 2018 opening, the current timeline is November or December 2019, per a rep.
Plant City as a whole is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 7 a.m. to midnight Thursday and Sunday, and 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. However, individual restaurants’ hours differ; consult the website for each to check.