Eatsa, the futuristic fast-food chain based in San Francisco, is expanding to New York City.
The vegetarian restaurant, which specialises in quinoa bowls that cost about $7, uses technology to automate the ordering and pick-up processes. Customers can dine in or out without interacting with a single human. It’s a little scary.
According to Time Out New York, the popular breakfast and lunch spot will open in midtown in the fall.
We don’t yet know exactly what the New York version of Eatsa will look like, but if it’s anything like the San Francisco shop, it will be a dining experience straight out of “The Jetsons.”
Here’s what happened when we visited Eatsa in San Francisco on opening day in 2015.
I arrived at Eatsa, located near San Francisco's Embarcadero, shortly before noon, and there was already a line out the door.
Almost immediately, the illusion was shattered. A very human employee greeted me and my coworker Jillian to introduce us to the restaurant's app.
It was very intuitive. The menu is split into quinoa bowls, sides, and beverages. There's a build-your-own bowl option for folks with specific tastes.
I swiped my credit card to get started, and the app prompted me to add items to 'Melia's' basket. It knew my name!
There are about eight Chef's Bowls to choose from, like the classic Burrito Bowl, the Mediterranean, or the Harvest Bowl. Each uses quinoa as its base.
I clicked Balsamic Beet to learn more. A preview image of the meal, description of its ingredients, and nutritional information came on display. Looked good!
After placing my order, I scooted over to the order-fill station. It reminded me of being in a pet store and admiring the dogs in the windows when I was a kid, except here everybody was on their phone.
Each delivery cubby has a transparent LCD screen as its lid, so animation flashes at random across the wall.
A screen overhead broadcasts whose orders have arrived. The number next to your name corresponds with the cubby where your food is.
In roughly 8 minutes, my name flashed green on screen. I zipped to my cubby and found that the lid had gone black, indicating that a cook -- or post-apocalyptic android, who knows -- was delivering my order.
Poof! The box lit up and my quinoa bowl appeared. I double-tapped the upper-right corner of the cubby to release the goods.
Having already paid the $11.45 bill, I left the store with my Balsamic Beet bowl, side of brussel sprouts, and sparkling cucumber-melon soda in hand. The 'good kind' of sticker shock set in.
Jillian's Burrito Bowl appeared to be a way healthier alternative to one from Chipotle. It weighed in at fewer than 650 calories.
The combination of guacamole, portobello mushrooms, grilled corn, pinto beans, and queso on a warm bed of lemon-herb toasted quinoa provided 25 grams of protein.
My Balsamic Beets bowl was a perfect storm of toasted red quinoa, mixed greens, goat cheese, roasted beets, croutons, pickled onions, and cole slaw, plus balsamic dressing on the side.
Offering 18 grams of protein at just 537 calories, the bowl tasted both hearty and refreshing. I'm not a diehard quinoa fan, but this meal incorporated enough tasty, familiar ingredients that I would definitely order it again.
Before arriving at Eatsa, I had hoped telepresence robots or the lifelike animatronics at Disney World would serve me. You will not be 'served by robots' at Eatsa; don't let Twitter tell you otherwise.
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