Pavement Whispers: El Planta to open a bricks-and-mortar home of mezcal and plant-based Mexican
After a year spent building up a cult following behind their selection of plant-based tacos, Adrienne Jory and Rick Gibson are moving on from their beloved Wandering Cooks pop-up. Before you freak out, allow us to follow up by saying they’re only moving around the corner. That’s right – El Planta is putting roots down! The couple have snagged a permanent spot on Hope Street, which will be converted into a homey bar and eatery hawking Adrienne and Rick’s meat-free Mexican eats plus some new goodies.
You know a plant-based concept is a big deal when it appeals to herbivores and carnivores alike. Take Rick Gibson and Adrienne Jory’s meatless taco concept El Planta for example – folks of all dietary walks of life rave about its flavoursome offering, which for the past year could only be found at South Brisbane incubator Wandering Cooks. For the enterprising couple, 2019 was a year of foundation building – establishing their brand, cementing recipes and cultivating a fan base – with an eye towards opening a stand-alone restaurant that was an extension of their tastes and attitudes. Earlier this year the couple started scouting potential sites in South Brisbane and West End for a bricks-and-mortar operation – hoping to remain in the vicinity of Wandering Cooks to make it easier for their long-term customers to adjust. After their initial explorations failed to find an ideal spot, Rick and Adrienne were put in touch with Maris Cook and Dan Ward (owners of nearby hotspots Maeve Wine and Hello Please) by Aria Property Group to discuss taking over the former Ol’ School space on Hope Street. The tenancy has been unoccupied since hosting the Tinsel Bar pop-up in late 2019, so Maris and Dan were more than happy to see the space activated once more. Soon, Rick and Adrienne started working with them on a transition timeframe – El Planta will wrap up operations at Wandering Cooks at the end of March while simultaneously transforming the space into their own ahead of opening in April.
Rick and Adrienne’s goal is to make El Planta a place that feels like you are stepping into your friend’s home – warm, welcoming, comfortable. With the space already boasting restaurant and bar essentials, the couple are mostly looking to implement some cosmetic adjustments to suit their vibe. The pastel pinks and blues on the bar and walls will vanish, and new furnishings such as booths, a large three-metre-long communal table (set like you’re sitting down to a family dinner) and some outdoor seating will be implemented (bifold doors will open to Hope Street, creating a seamless indoor-outdoor feel). Decorative flourishes will include an artfully arranged photo wall and a cactus garden. As for the fare, El Planta’s famed selection of plant-based tacos will take centre stage. The core range, which includes the likes of pork, chicken, beef and fish (or rather, their meatless counterparts), will be expanded with a couple of newcomers, while share-style mains, sides and desserts will also feature. Much like their Wandering Cooks pop-up, Rick and Adrienne are keen to maintain their DIY house-made ethos, and this goes for the drink selection too. All non-alcoholic drinks will be made in house from seasonal ingredients, with the option to booze them up if desired (think Mexican espresso martinis made using rice and coconut-milk horchata), while all spirits will be selected based on their ability to be enjoyed straight or on the rocks. Wandering Cooks’s wine curator Nick Turner will be assembling a selection of natural and vegan-friendly wines, which will sit alongside Mexican beers and cocktails. Although they are intent on firmly planting their flag on Hope Street, Rick and Adrienne are eager to complement the established array of hospitality venues, rather than compete. Much like before, El Planta will aim to foster curiosity around food and spread awareness of plant-based cuisine to all eaters.
El Planta will open to the public in mid-April. We’ll have a closer look once the venue launches – stay tuned!
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