The Plot delivers plant-based, zero-waste cuisine with creativity and rich flavor
18-month-old Oceanside vegan restaurant aims to spread its concept to more locations in future years
Plant-based restaurants have been around for decades, but for an omnivore like me, they’ve never quite cracked the nut in figuring out how to make a menu devoid of butter, cream and animal proteins completely satisfying. But The Plot, a new vegan and zero-waste restaurant that opened early last year in Oceanside, has made me eat my words. It’s guilt-free food that delivers guilty-pleasure satisfaction.
The secret to The Plot’s success is its owners, married Oceanside restaurateurs Jessica and Davin Waite. Jessica is a vegan and a leader in the region’s slow food and sustainability movement and Davin is an omnivore widely respected as one of Southern California’s best and most innovative sushi chefs at their nearby sister eatery Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub. Her passion and his kitchen wizardry have combined to create a restaurant that’s not only earnest in its human- and planet-healthy mission, but also hip, fun, affordable and delicious.
The Waites opened The Plot just six weeks before the pandemic hit last year. They survived doing takeout and limited service for 17 months before fully relaunching last month, with the addition of new chef de cuisine Ryan Orlando and an expanded outdoor-seating area surrounded by an edible landscape of rainbow chard, aromatic bouillon plants and more. Weekend brunch service was introduced Sept. 11.
The extended shutdown gave chef Waite time to fine-tune his menu, which reuses more than 99 percent of its produce and dry good waste in creative and surprisingly tasty ways. Except for the organic tofu bought from San Diego Soy Dairy, all of the plant-based proteins on the menu are made in-house, and the Plot is on its way to growing 30 percent of its produce needs in an onsite vegetable garden.
The Plot’s menu star is the Chickën & Waffles, a robust serving of whole grain waffles, smoky maple syrup, habanero shallot sauce, house cashew butter and crispy-coated fried tofu cakes that mimic the taste, texture and mouthfeel of real chicken breasts. The $16 serving, enough for two diners, won over my staunchly meat-and-potatoes-loving son.
Another don’t-miss dish is the Cräb cake, made from fibrous lion’s mane mushrooms from Mindful Mushrooms in San Diego. The $15 dish, with a crunchy apple slaw, shaved fennel root and creamy tarragon sauce, has the perfect stringy texture of jumbo lump crab meat and just the right accompaniments to taste like an elevated fine dining dish.
Waite honors his heritage with the shepherd’s pie, a traditional English layered meat pie reimagined with meatless loaf, smashed potatoes vegetables and a savory gravy ($17). And the egg-free Okinawan sweet potato gnocchi ($18), has just the right pillowy texture, with fresh summer tomatoes, a dollop of tangy citrus crème and a drizzle of garlic sage olive oil so tasty you’ll want to sip it with a spoon.
For Mexican food lovers, there’s a smoky, intensely flavored aguachile appetizer made with dehydrated oyster mushrooms and seaweed-marinated hearts of palm ($14). And for fans of Waite’s seafood skills, there are six plant-based sushi rolls ($12 to $13) with ingredients like soy-based tüna, chayote squash ceviche and smoked stone fruit sauce.
If you have room for dessert, order the Plot cake, a dense and rich Spanish olive oil cake served with vanilla crème and fruit puree ($7). If you don’t, order it anyway and take it home in one of the restaurant’s reVessel containers, a reusable covered glass dish sold to cut down paper takeout container waste.
The Waites’ long-term goal is to expand The Plot to multiple locations. For that to succeed, its menu must have broad appeal to diners beyond the vegan community. Clearly that’s been achieved here, with great food that just happens to also be great for you and the planet.
Hours: 4 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays. 4 to 9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Brunch: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Where: 1733 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside
Phone: (442) 266-8200
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