If you love trying new vegan restaurants, here's one to keep on your radar: Planta is an upscale, celebrity favorite serving unique, elevated plant-based dishes you need to know about. The restaurant has several locations in South Florida, including Miami Beach, with new locations set to open in different cities around the US.

New Yorkers, we've got great news for you. And if you're still hunkered at home or not in the area, order from Planta's newest platform, 'Planta at Home' for a taste of the entire menu flash-frozen and delivered to your door. We also scored an exclusive, signature recipe just for you, made by Planta's Chef David Lee so you can make restaurant-quality meals in the comfort of your own kitchen.

The Planta Experience is Unlike Any Other Restaurant

Imagine sitting in a booth inside the trendy, upscale restaurant drinking your favorite matcha mojito and munching on a spread of fresh, innovative appetizers that happen to be vegan, although you'd never know by the taste. IIn front of you is an ahi 'tuna' roll made with watermelon that's been marinated overnight, topped with fresh ginger, and citrus soy, over sticky rice. Planta's 'sushi' is a work of art, a bowl of 'tuna' tartare made with richly-flavored beets over freshly sliced avocado drizzled with a light soy sauce. And if you're feeling indulgent, next to that is a side dish of crunchy comforting tater tots unexpectedly made with cauliflower.

Planta is a Hub For Celebrities, Foodies, and Any Kind of Eater

There's no surprise that Planta serves a long list of different celebrities who aren't plant-based like Winnie Harlow, Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber, and NFL star Rob Gronkowski since the restaurant was created for everyone, not just vegans. In fact, the owner of Planta, Steve Salm explained how he wanted Planta to also appeal to carnivores, people who are used to the seasonings and flavors of meat and still get the taste they love but instead it's marinated on vegetables. "Our greatest pleasures are what a guest gets from their experience and they say 'That was just amazing', 'I can't wait to come back', instead of saying something like, 'Wow, that's just so good for a vegan restaurant', or 'I can't believe it's vegan, it's so good'," said the owner.

If You Want to Try Planta But Don't Live Near a Restaurant, Good News For You

If you're not in the Florida area, you can still enjoy a delicious meal at several other Planta locations including Maryland, New York City, and even Toronto, Canada, home to the chain's first location. Better yet, you can order 'Planta at Home,' a nationwide platform that delivers almost any item on the menu to your home. The pizzas, cauliflower tots, dumplings, burger, anything you want gets flash-frozen and shipped to your doorstep, ready to be reheated and enjoyed.

Inspiration to Create Planta Began with Environmental Concerns

We spoke to the owner of Planta, Steve Salm, who shared insider information behind the brand and its reason for being. "If we built the restaurant for vegans, we probably wouldn't be in business," said Salm. He started creating the concept for the restaurant in 2016 when he watched the documentary Cowspircacy and learned about the environmental impacts of eating meat. Salm immediately eliminated ditched meat and dairy from his diet and went completely plant-based. At the time, the restauranteur had other eateries that served animal products, and the only option when visiting was to eat a salad. So, Salm set out to build a restaurant where "herbivores, omnivores, carnivores, whoever could coexist in one cool place," and turned an existing Toronto restaurant into his first location, Planta Queen. Find out everything you need to know about this one-of-a-kind concept and get the address to the New York City location which opens soon. Salm shared his favorite items on the menu and what you need to know about their talented head chef and co-founder, David Lee.

The Beet: What's your background? How did you get started in this?

Steven Salm: I started my own hospitality group in 2012, Chase Hospitality. And basically came up the ranks in management in 2007. I was working in New York for a few restaurant groups. Then I moved up to Toronto for a career opportunity with a large force. In there, came to a company called Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment. They stay on the rafters and we'll leave. And they were building a really unique entertainment complex, and I retired. Then I stayed in Toronto and started my business there, and then in 2016, I personally went plant-based, and I realized that I had four restaurants that I couldn't eat at. That's when I recognized that there was a huge need for Planta.

The Beet: Why did you go plant-based?

Steven Salm: It was originally for environmental purposes. I watched a documentary called Cowspiracy. I felt insanely ignorant to not realize how much water or acreage is used to make factory farming a thing. So I basically changed our entire supply chain as an organization in 2016. We became much more localized and then urged our four restaurants at the time to go twenty-five percent plant-based. The more you start reading about it, you know, giving up red meat, this and that--it just takes you down a path of discovery where I recognized that I wanted to try going vegan. I ended up just feeling so good. It was unbelievable. It was kind of like a situation when something changes those feelings, and I never looked back since then.

The Beet: When I went to a Planta, I spoke to your GM and he told me that the chef is from Toronto. So is that how you guys met?

Steven Salm: David is an incredibly respected chef, coming up the ranks in Canada and UK. He operated a restaurant called Nota Bene in Toronto for 13 years in the location where Planta Queen is today. He just has an appreciation for vegetable flavors that is so incredibly unique. We're basically like, if you want to do a concept with vegetable-forward, you'd have to be with David. So I already knew David–we were new to the industry, but we obviously became intimately aware of each other. We got to know each other's businesses. And then he joined as a co-founder of Planta.

The Beet: Did Planta originate in Toronto or did you guys start somewhere else?

Steven Salm: Yeah, the first one was in Toronto and now we actually have four in Toronto and now we're building out our footprint in the US. So opening a couple more in South Florida, New York City, Bethesda, and we're looking at two other markets as well.

The Beet:  Where are you thinking of opening in New York?

Steven Salm: So the restaurant is fully built and ready at 27th and Broadway. We're just waiting until the restrictions lift.

The Beet: What inspired you to put an upscale twist on a vegan eatery?

Steven Salm: There's such a tremendous amount of baggage and undertones that come with the terminology vegan. I just feel like what we're trying to accomplish–the market is not really ready for. We're really trying to create an environment where people appreciate the restaurant for being an amazing restaurant. Our greatest pleasures are what a guest gets from their experience and they say 'That was just amazing,' 'I can't wait to come back,' instead of saying something like, 'Wow, that's just so good for a vegan restaurant,' or 'I can't believe it's vegan, it's so good.' You know that doesn't really ultimately take what we're trying to achieve all the way into like making plant-based cool, because people are trying to always compare it to experiences that they're previously used to.

Because plant-based has to be the future. It's not like 'Oh, let's just eat a little bit of plant-based and be okay.' If we don't do this, we're in big trouble. We're trying to convert people's approach to the environment by creating spectacular environments and a great vibe and cool food and great people is what I think society needs to tiptoe around this idea of maybe I can actually do this, or maybe I can actually eat plant-based three times a week.

Hailey: What are some of your best sellers?

Steven Salm: Sushi is top of the charts, usually with the rainbow roll or spicy tuna roll, made with the ahi watermelon. We have four different concepts within Planta. So Planta takes a traditional all-American approach–there's pizza and there's also sushi and there are great noodle dishes. I guess it's a very cuisine agnostic concept, and there's Planta Queen, which is exclusively Asian-focused and tons and tons of Asian flavors. We have an 18-foot wok in the kitchen that's specifically for dumplings and expanded sushi. We also have Planta Cocina, which is a Mexican-inspired plant-based concept. You know, tacos, tamales and enchilada, and a really, really cool ceviche program. Then we have Planta Burger, which is our smaller 1,500 square-foot footprint of doing all plant-based burgers in a quick-service environment. Popular sellers really, obviously, vary per restaurant. But sushi is something that's pretty much offered through and through, and it's very popular.

Hailey: So let's just talk a little bit about your new restaurant in West Palm beach.

Steven Salm: So the one in West Palm beach is Planta. We just opened Planta Queen and Coconut Grove. This will have the pizza, pasta, and sushi program available. So that's located at Rosemary square and we've just obviously released details around that opening.

The Beet: So what are your future plans for Planta? Have anything new in the works?

Steven Salm: We launched Planta at home, which is our nationwide platform during the pandemic. You can order basically anything, from the pizza pies, the cauliflower tots, to dumplings. It's basically from our oven. We flash freeze it and ship it, and then you can basically pop it in the oven and have anything from the burgers to cauliflower tots to the dumplings, or great desserts. We obviously had an opportunity to go and partner with Gold Belly, but we decided not to because we wanted to hone the customer journey and the pricing ourselves. You know, the pricing that Gold Belly charges is not entirely in line with how we would want our products are presented–that's just a little bit costly because, you know, obviously everybody has to make a margin there. Right now we're just focused on trying to get our products into people's freezers and what that means is that we're offering it at some really great prices and free shipping.

The Beet: Where do you get your inspiration from to create a beet tartare? Are there other chefs or restaurants that inspire you?

Steven Salm: What's really unique about the relationship between David and me is that we both came from a background of obviously cooking and working very closely with animal products. You know what you're trying to create with things with creaminess from dairy or richness from butter or for instance something that has a tremendous amount of umami. There's really a sense of how we're building out our menus. We're not trying to sort of say, 'Oh, I want to make this beet tastes like tuna,' but people like tuna tartare not because they love the tuna, but because they love the texture of how tuna and avocado taste together. That collaboration between beet and avocado really offers a very similar sense of savor. We're not calling it tuna tartare. It's just delicious beets and delicious avocado and just the right amount of savory and sweet. That's really how we approach all the dishes. We don't really cook with alternative meats. We're not trying to create chicken out of seitan or beyond meat products, but we have a huge amount of appreciation for what those guys are doing. It's just not part of our program.

The Beet: What are your favorite dishes at Planta?

Steven Salm: I love the poke bowl–it's one of my favorites for a lighter option. I love sushi. I absolutely love our burgers and pizzas. At Planta Queen I really love the spicy noodles, they are amazing as well. It's hard to pick favorites because you rarely go to a restaurant where everything on the menu you can eat. If you're a pescatarian and you go to a certain restaurant, you don't look at the menu and say 'I could eat all of that,' but if you're plant-based or super vegetable-focused, or dairy-free or whatever, you're like "I could eat absolutely everything."

JC Through The Lens
JC Through The Lens

Coconut Ceviche

  • 1-2 young coconut
  • 3 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 1 jalapeñ0, minced
  • 1 tbs. Anaheim chilis, minced
  • 20 coriander stems
  • Grey salt, to taste
  • 4 tbs. fresh lime juice

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