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netmover Nov 9, 2006 10:14 PM

Is this mini chain any good? Why? Why not?

  1. s
    Sebby Nov 9, 2006 10:39 PM

    I like their turkey sandwiches. Fresh roasted turkey with cranberry sauce, roasted onions on grilled foccacia bread.
    I usually get it to-go, I don't think I've had a sit down meal there.
    I think they are good for basic eats.

    1. nancyhudson Nov 9, 2006 10:47 PM

      Funny you should ask - I recently searched for "Plutos" on Chowhound, and didn't see many posts. I really love this place - food is tasty and fresh, with a decent variety to choose from. Love the flank steak salad with 7 topping choices! I think the concept is great, too, altho the lines can get a bit outrageous in the Roseville store. I'm amazed they can turn a profit with as inexpensive as they are.

      1. singleguychef Nov 9, 2006 11:07 PM

        I think this is a decent alternative to a lot of fast-food places and nice if you're on a budget. They generally use fresh ingredients and the portions are nice size, but it's not like a restaurant.

        1. n
          nikinaka Nov 9, 2006 11:14 PM

          i just tried it for the first time last nite. (palo alto location.) i got the mixed greens with plenty of crunchy fililngs and italian dressing. it wasn't the best salad i've had, but i like that you can customize it to your own likes and desires. i agree that it's a good alternative to fast-food places. the hot dishes look great and i hope to try it sometime soon!

          1. m
            ML8000 Nov 9, 2006 11:23 PM

            Pluto's = updated, redux Hoffbrau. Essentially healthier comfort food with salads. Decent quality, casual, add-ons jack the bill up pretty fast.

            1. p
              Parvati Nov 9, 2006 11:51 PM

              In my experience sandwiches here are good. The bread is fresh-tasting and the fillings are hearty. But the real draw is the sides, like nigh-perfect onion rings, and the brownies. That's where they make most of their money, too, since the prices are fairly reasonable for the Bay.

              1. Benny Choi Nov 10, 2006 12:22 AM

                decent is the right word to describe Pluto's: decent salads, decent comfort food, decent prices, decent counter service, decent setting (I've only been to the Marina location). Was there just last night. Surprisingly, the chicken wings were quite crispy and tasty (they leave on the wing tips). I like their custom built salads for just $5 (no meat, entree size), not a bad value for a tendy neighborhood.

                1. wchane Nov 10, 2006 03:30 AM

                  i LOVE pluto's. $7 for a huge salad w/flank steak?! you're full and don't feel guilty after. flank steak + sierra nevada mustard along with the mixed greens is my idea of a no fuss meal. i'm really glad this chain is around and even more excited that they're coming to santana row (so i don't have to go to palo alto anymore).

                  now about the hoffbrau side...i'm not that big of a fan.

                  go for the salads.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: wchane
                    DezzerSF Nov 10, 2006 09:35 PM

                    Agreed. Although I like the Cilantro Vinegarette. I frequent the Irving St location in SF.

                  2. Mmmonica Nov 10, 2006 08:39 PM

                    I don't like Pluto's. I've eaten there several times and am always dissappointed. You'd think that place that specializes in salads would have terrific vegetarian add-ons but it doesn't. The french fries are fantastic though.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Mmmonica
                      Lori SF Nov 10, 2006 08:42 PM

                      I think it is what it is but a good alternative to fast food. When it's cold and rainy and you are very hungry want something to stick on you easy food.

                      1. re: Mmmonica
                        PeterL Dec 12, 2006 10:39 PM

                        I like Plutos, but I wouldn't call them "specializes in salads." They have two choices, mixed greens and Ceasars. That's not a specialty.

                      2. a_and_w Nov 10, 2006 09:09 PM

                        Love the sandwiches and fries at Pluto's.

                        1. h
                          honu Dec 7, 2006 10:51 PM

                          Is Pluto's open in Santana Row yet?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: honu
                            katya Dec 8, 2006 09:54 PM

                            I saw the neon sign lit at the Santana Row location Wednesday night.

                            1. re: honu
                              Mari Dec 12, 2006 09:45 PM

                              Yep - it's open.

                            2. m
                              megamalone Dec 7, 2006 11:06 PM

                              it's a great deal and it fills the belly and makes the belly happy! I adore their vegetable sides...my husband usually gets the french dip sandwich and I eat his sides for him. :-)

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: megamalone
                                netmover Dec 8, 2006 03:47 PM

                                Thanks for all the feedback! 99% had positive things to say and the 1% who didn't like it said she has gone several times? In addition, she loves the fries! BTW, I wonder what "teriffic vegetarian add-ons" means??? That makes it 99.5% + positive which is good enough for me, I got to try tis place!!!

                                1. re: netmover
                                  honu Dec 9, 2006 03:02 PM

                                  Where is the Pluto's located in Santana Row?

                                  1. re: honu
                                    katya Dec 11, 2006 09:13 PM

                                    It's on the plaza that's surrounded by Maggiano's and Urban Outfitters.

                              2. c
                                cascabel Dec 11, 2006 03:54 AM

                                I've been to the Irving location for lunch when I just want a big pile of greens before going back to work. It's not a destination place, but more the kind of thing that's nice to have around when you want an alternative to fast food.

                                Yes, the toppings are kind of prosaic. You're not going to find any really trendy ingredients. But it always seems fresh (I have never had slimy greens or anything) and it's fun to mix and match. And the salads are HUGE for the money.

                                I haven't had the other dishes, so I can't comment on that.

                                1. l
                                  lintygmom Dec 12, 2006 12:20 AM

                                  I love Pluto's. Try it--how can you go wrong for less than $15?

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: lintygmom
                                    Atomica Dec 21, 2006 03:41 PM

                                    For one person? I certainly wouldn't want to spend $15 (or a tiny bit less) very frequently for lunch. I can get a delicious torta that can feed 2 people for $5.

                                    1. re: Atomica
                                      katya Dec 21, 2006 05:09 PM

                                      My experience is that my meals at Pluto's have been under $8. I'm sure the price point can go higher for particular dishes or if you include drinks, sides, etc.

                                      1. re: Atomica
                                        netmover Dec 22, 2006 01:34 AM

                                        Torta? Please explain...

                                        1. re: Atomica
                                          NoeMan Dec 22, 2006 02:45 AM

                                          A torta is a sandwich in Mexican restaurants and are often sold cheap in the Mission.

                                          1. re: NoeMan
                                            netmover Dec 22, 2006 06:03 PM

                                            thanks...that's what I thought...they come on that huge bread
                                            loaf, no? is their a speciffic name for that bread? I know the sammy is called torta in it's totality...but how is the bread? it looks rather stoneage! any one no the tale of the torta dough? what's the best mexy joint in the mission now days? I forget the name of the one we used to frequent...thanx.

                                    2. tara Dec 12, 2006 04:38 AM

                                      I always liked having lunch at Pluto's when I worked in the area. Never once had the dishes, only the salads. Two faults: The people making the salads tend to put on too much dressing, and the chicken that goes with salads is totally dried out -- stick to steak, and ask for it medium to get it medium rare.

                                      1. e
                                        echo Dec 12, 2006 06:14 PM

                                        it's serviceable.
                                        the salads aren't anything special. like someone said, "a big bowl of greens". i mean, the toppings are stuff like canned corn and canned black olive rings. and flank steak, while worthy in its own way, doesn't really 'go' with such stuff. it's a cacophany of decent, relatively healthful inoffensive middle american grub, which, when juxtaposed with fast food or appleby's, has an appealling 'freshness' angle. when you're in that kind of mood with no other options, go for it. but i would not call it 'Chow'.
                                        frankly, pluto's is an anglo comfort food cafeteria in a california context. this is what hospital food should be.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: echo
                                          orezscu Jan 3, 2007 02:57 AM

                                          Hilarious and dead-on. It's a cafeteria with slick make-up. Would be at home at any good West coast airport.

                                        2. netmover Dec 21, 2006 02:04 AM

                                          WOW, thanks for all the feed back! I thought the place was great...for being a fast food cafeteria style eaterie. The choices are amazing. 7 toppings for the salad had me holding up the line :-)

                                          The other multitude of meal choices will keep me coming back again and again, and the price! You can't beat it for fresh food on the fly.

                                          1. rosielucchesini Dec 22, 2006 02:16 AM

                                            Plutos is great-healthy, "fast" food, that is made to order and not to mention, cheap! You can either go uber-healthy or decadent which is another plus.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: rosielucchesini
                                              netmover Dec 22, 2006 06:04 PM


                                            2. thirtyeyes Dec 22, 2006 09:39 PM

                                              I haven't been down here, but up in Davis or Roseville I've had problems with the line. If you are buying multiple items you have to wait in the salad line and then in the entree line. It's a bit annoying when it's busy.

                                              1. s
                                                sweetnsavory Jan 1, 2007 05:06 AM

                                                My husband, the kids, and I checked out the Santana Row location this past week and were very disappointed. My husband is the least pickiest eater there is and he found the turkey sandwich incredibly dry. My tri-tip sandwich was OK, but on the small side. The kids, who normally love mac and cheese, barely touched their kid's meal. We will not be going back. Maybe the other locations are better?

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: sweetnsavory
                                                  katya Jan 3, 2007 12:17 AM

                                                  I visited Pluto's in Santana Row for the first time on New Year's Eve and liked it so much I returned on New Year's Day for more.

                                                  I loved my farmer's green salad with trip tip and my choice of 7 salad ingredients (definitely get the candied walnuts and fresh orange pieces). The accompanying focaccia was delish and not too oily. It was one of the best salads I've ever had. I think the tri tip and the fresh salad ingredients made it.

                                                  The boyfriend liked his carved turkey sandwich so much he ordered it the next day, too. I got a tri tip sandwich the second day, which was a bit on the small side. The meat didn't seem as good quality or as rare (I requested medium or medium rare) as on my salad. But it was still solid fare. Can't wait to try the butternut squash with the veggie sides.

                                                  My only problem with this place is the wait. Even though we visited both times around 2 p.m. and there were few customers, there was a slow line to order and a slow line to pay. If it's that slow at 2 p.m. I can't imagine what it's like at noon.

                                                  1. re: katya
                                                    hawaii_4me Sep 2, 2007 09:28 PM

                                                    I believe that the focaccia that comes with the salad (and that is also used for the sandwiches) is the "Herb Slab" made by Acme Bread. I also am a fan of Pluto's (I have been to both the Palo Alto and the Irving Ave locations). I like the salads (candied walnuts and fennel area must). The sandwiches are ok. And their garlic fries are great (they are curly fries)!

                                                2. c
                                                  Chowsmurf Jan 3, 2007 01:32 AM

                                                  I made a post about this a few months back, but I was SORELY dissapointed with my recent trip to Plutos. I hadn't been in years and was excited to find myself near the one in the Marina. I talked it up to my partner in crime and he agreed... man, did I feel bad for the upsell. I think I ate maybe 1/4 of what was on my plate the flank steak was so tough and raw and and just not tasty at all.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: Chowsmurf
                                                    netmover Sep 1, 2007 03:16 PM

                                                    any recent reviews of this small chain ?

                                                    1. re: netmover
                                                      tako Sep 3, 2007 07:44 PM

                                                      I really don't like Pluto's. The salad was one of my worst experiences. There was an inordinate amount of dressing that was quite strong in flavor. The sandwiches are pretty bland. I don't know what all the hype is about. It is better than fast food, but really that doesn't say much at all.

                                                      1. re: tako
                                                        netmover Sep 13, 2007 07:16 PM

                                                        which dressing did you select?

                                                        1. re: tako
                                                          netmover Sep 13, 2007 07:16 PM

                                                          oh, and don't you design your own salad there?

                                                          1. re: tako
                                                            Meredith Sep 14, 2007 10:31 AM

                                                            I am with you. I really really want to like this place. I love picking my own salad ingredients, I love that I can get flank steak instead of just insipid chicken on my salad bar salad. But I never enjoy the taste. Over a few years with friends who love the place, I think I have tried every dressing, and culled down my salad ingredients to one or two, or ramped them up to 5 or more and still, nothing has ever tasted really good to me.

                                                            1. re: tako
                                                              adrienne156 Sep 14, 2007 11:53 AM

                                                              I also agree. The one in Davis stinks. It's nice to be able to pick out your own salad toppings, but the ones I chose tasted horribly of can and there was waaay too much dressing.

                                                              1. re: adrienne156
                                                                netmover Sep 15, 2007 09:50 AM

                                                                why not request "lite on the dressing" if they drench it? Everything else is chosen to your liking, why not the amount of dressing? or get it on the side and apply to taste.

                                                                I love the fact you can choose exactly what floats your boat, get in and out quickly without breaking the bank. This place is good for what it is, fast, fresh and economical(.)

                                                                1. re: netmover
                                                                  adrienne156 Sep 15, 2007 11:53 AM

                                                                  You are right - I should have asked for "light on the dressing," but just the overall quality reminded me of cafeteria food. After 3 tries, I've decided that I would rather go to Crepeville for a salad any day.

                                                        2. Atomica Sep 14, 2007 10:38 AM

                                                          I stopped in when I was in the neighborhood, but nothing looked good to me. Reminds me of the cafeteria at the hospital where I used to work. Why do they keep the lighting so dim? Hmm.

                                                          1. rworange Sep 15, 2007 12:31 PM


                                                            Pluto's Fresh Food
                                                            482 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                            Pluto's Fresh Food
                                                            3258 Scott St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                                                            Pluto's Fresh Food
                                                            627 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                                                            Pluto's Fresh Food
                                                            3055 Olin Ave, San Jose, CA 95128

                                                            Santana Row
                                                            355 Santana Row, San Jose, CA 95128

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: rworange
                                                              netmover Sep 19, 2007 09:32 AM

                                                              thanks for that RWO, I have only been to the one in the Marina...which is a great choice for quick cheap comfort food in a district laden with too few options in said category.

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