Meat-free Mexican – El Planta takes tacos to new heights at Wandering Cooks
When it comes to culinary pop-ups, the humble taco stand is perhaps the most iconic. Street food doesn’t get more beloved than this Mexican staple, so when we say one of Brisbane’s best pop-up concepts hawks top-notch tacos, it’s unlikely that you’ll be surprised. However, there’s much more to the story – El Planta at Wandering Cooks is Brisbane’s first entirely plant-based Mexican concept, dishing out authentic (and addictive) flavours that are devoid of animal products.
El Planta’s masterminds Adrienne Jory and Rick Gibson are no strangers to plant-based fare. The duo have already shaken up the salad scene with their wholefood meal service The Whole Box Co, and are now helping to expand the amount of plant-based options available around town while also showcasing the possibilities of vegan food. The choice of Mexican fare resonated with both Rick and Adrienne (their first date a decade ago was over Mexican food), and the techniques they’d picked up building The Whole Box gave them the ability to flip the cuisine on its head. El Planta’s prime directive is to deliver an authentic flavour and texture profile without relying on fake meat or synthetic proteins, getting a result that was as close to the real thing using just plant matter. With that in mind, the duo set up inside one of the commercial kitchens at Wandering Cooks and got to work on what would become El Planta’s menu.
Sensing a disconnect between consumers and their plate, Rick and Adrienne have sought to invigorate El Planta’s menu with freshness and punch, putting flavour first. With a strict ‘no shortcuts’ policy, El Planta’s menu has been built from scratch – we’re talking every cornflour tortilla, every drop of sauce and shred of vegan cheese is made in house (the only things brought in are a few Mexican chillies). El Planta’s morsels are stuffed with plants that evoke a similar textural element to meat, and the end result has reportedly fooled a few unwitting carnivores. Although elements of El Planta’s menu change as Adrienne and Rick cycle through ideas, the overall offering will always feature four core fillings – pork, chicken, beef and fish (or rather, their meatless counterparts). The menu currently boasts red mole jackfruit ‘chicken’ tacos with vegan cotija cheese, ‘fish’ tacos made from beer-battered Hearts of Palm, slow-cooked five-chilli jackfruit ‘pork’ and roasted-pineapple salsa, mushroom-stem ‘beef’ with tomatillo salsa, albondigas (house-made meatless meatballs) with chipotle mayo, and Mexican street corn with plant-based parmesan cheese,
El Planta currently operates at Wandering Cooks on Wednesday and Friday evenings and all day on Sunday, beginning with a Mexican inspired brunch service. Adrienne and Rick hope to build the following up more, spreading the good word of imaginative plant-based fare far and wide. The duo are working with a view towards opening a potential bricks-and-mortar location that will offer them space to mill their own flour for tortillas and supplement the menu with a selection of tequila and mescal. El Planta will be taking over the kitchen at Ploughman in Alderley for a one-off dinner soon – keep your eyes peeled for more details.
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