Walking into the giant new Plantpub location steps from Fenway Park, one might recognize the layout — and general beer hall vibes — from the longtime Boston Beerworks space. Plantpub is a beer hall, too, after all, but an entirely vegan one: The comfort food-packed menu features Impossible Burgers as well as burgers made from an in-house veggie blend; Fenway frank-inspired hot dogs made from a meat substitute, or carrot dogs; and similarly meatless comfort foods.
While the beer hall feel remains, it’s a whole new aesthetic, a minimalist color scheme of black, white, and glossy wood, embellished with numerous plants. Natural light streams in through garage-style doors in the front, and a wall is emblazoned with large lettering reading “eat plants” and “drink beer.” Toward the back of the space, floral and farm-themed murals by local artist Brand Rockwell add pops of color.
This is Plantpub’s second location, but the first full-service one — and a huge one, at that. The original Kendall Square spot, which opened in fall 2021, is fast-casual, a sort of pandemic pivot from the team’s early plans. The new Fenway location is more in line with the full vision for the brand, says cofounder Pat McAuley, although thinking of future Plantpub expansion, he could see different niches for each version of the restaurant. Think of a counter-service airport Plantpub, for example.
As cofounder and chef Mary Dumont said previously when opening the Cambridge location, the goal of Plantpub is to make food “that everybody wants to eat, that everyone recognizes and has a good time over.” For a stadium-adjacent beer hall, that means pizzas, doughnuts, fried “chicken” sandwiches, and the like.
McAuley brings craft beer expertise to the equation with an affordable list that has mainstream picks like Michelob Ultra and, of course, Sam Adams, as well as creative picks like a jasmine pilsner from São Paulo and a kettle soured wild ale from Vermont. The Fenway location also features a selection of cocktails; wines, including some draft options; and non-alcoholic drinks.
“We’re definitely meshed with what we’re doing with our food program, trying to work with smaller distilleries, breweries that don’t get as much show around here,” says beverage director Liz Driscoll, pointing out cocktails featuring, for example, liquors from Short Path in Everett and GrandTen Distilling in South Boston.
Destination-worthy vegan dining is on the rise in Greater Boston and beyond, and a little bit of that can be attributed to restaurateur (and Maine native) Matthew Kenney, who has opened vegan restaurants around the globe, including Double Zero here in Boston, a pizzeria and wine bar, and Plant City, an entire vegan food hall in Providence. Kenney wasn’t involved in the original Plantpub opening, but by chance, he and the Plantpub team were both looking at the same Fenway space. They ended up joining forces, with Kenney becoming a partner on the Plantpub team.
It’s an ambitious location, to be sure: 8,000 square feet of space and 250 seats, steps from throngs of hungry sports fans, and not a meat option in sight on the menu. McAuley is confident, though, that plenty of folks coming through the neighborhood, whether or not for an event at Fenway, will welcome the chance to eat Plantpub’s hearty vegan food alongside a couple beers or cocktails.
“When this place is alive and the music’s going and the Red Sox games are on, when it’s fun and lively, I’m just excited that people are going to have that style of experience, and everything is plant-based,” says McAuley. “That doesn’t exist anywhere, in my opinion.”
Plantpub Fenway is open 11 a.m. to midnight daily at 61 Brookline Avenue, Boston.