Food Review

Pretty, Peppy, and Plant-Based

By Chloe serves vegan fast food with youthful flair

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Providence should be flattered that By Chloe, a popular chain with locations in New York City, Boston, LA, and London, chose to open a restaurant on Thayer Street.

If Chloe were a real girl, she’d be a fun-loving millennial with a natural glow. You’d spend a lot of time with her before realizing the secret to that glow – her plant-based diet. By Chloe manages to marry fun fast food with healthy, vegan ingredients. The sustainable, animal-free, and locally sourced menu is the core to the restaurant’s ethos, but the brand manages to operate from this place of conviction without taking itself too seriously. By Chloe reminds me of a more youthful, meatless Shake Shack. It’s almost subversive – and quite delicious.

With a light-filled interior, striped floors, a swinging chair, and a cartoon-y menu, By Chloe is perfect for groups of friends, parent-slash-pre-teen bonding, or a casual date. It’s cash-free, so don’t forget your card.

If you want to feel cool, order the off-menu Fenway Nachos, a secret that’s worth eating. With spicy seitan chorizo that rivals the real thing and a hearty helping of guacamole, these are like your favorite guilty junk food nachos, but way better. A close runner up, also off-menu, are the Oh So Fancy Fries, air-baked fries with the same seitan chorizo, whiskey onions, chipotle aioli, and tofu crema.

My Classic Burger had all the elements of an archetypal fast food burger: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and a fast-food paper sleeve. The patty is made with tempeh, lentils, chia seeds, and walnuts. This sounds like a disparate bunch of ingredients, but they come together with a singular texture and flavor.

I stole more than a few bites of my husband’s Whiskey BBQ sandwich, which had a base of smoked Portobello mushrooms and seitan with grilled pineapple, kale, and a bourbon barbeque sauce.

The Mac & Cheese was the only unimpressive item of our meal. It was presented nicely, but the creamy sauce, made with sweet potatoes and cashews, was too sweet for my taste.

Seasonal specials are posted to the right of the counter. When we visited, the Market Veggie was Roasted Brussel Sprouts with roasted garlic aioli and black currants, a crispy, salty delight.

The specials menu also features smoothies and other drinks. I had the Tropic Thunder smoothie, a pale yellow blend of mango, banana, turmeric, pineapple, hemp seeds, black pepper, and coconut milk that tasted more like a thick shake than a healthy smoothie. My 10-month-old son and I were equally delighted. My husband’s PB Hot Cocoa was rich and smooth.

Though By Chloe is best described as a fast-food restaurant, and everything is served in compostable, disposable packaging, most of our food was good enough to be on a full-service menu.

I brought some irresistible desserts back to my office, including the Chloestess Cupcake, a clone of the classic. Next time, I’ll save room for the ice cream, which comes in fun flavors like Birthday Cake and PB&J. I can guarantee I won’t miss the cream.