Techies around town (and the country, in fact) are buzzing about eatsa, SF's new fully-automated quinoa shop in FiDi's Rincon Building. The gist is that the restaurant offers super-fast, healthy quinoa-based meals for $6.95, but in an entirely automated space with iPad ordering and food pick-up from a wall of machine cubbies. Eatsa only opened Monday, but you know that didn't stop eager SF diners (and critics) from already offering up their opinions. Before you head down, find out what the masses are saying.
The line: Well, it's around the block, as soroblouie showed on Instagram. Eater contributor Andrew Dalton Tweeted that it rivaled the "usual Ferry Building line for Roli Roti for length," but Jessica W. swears it goes quickly. She wrote on Yelp, "Don't be intimidated. My group of 7 got in line at least 50 people back (the line went around the building) and it took 18 minutes for us to place our order at the kiosk, and less than 5 minutes to receive our food."
The decor: Steven H. wrote on Yelp that "the decor was sleek and modern with all of the technology everywhere you looked, but still had a warm and inviting feeling with the wood paneling."
The ordering: There are no people to guide your way, but Business Insider's Jillian D'Onfro gave the lowdown on how it all works: "First things first, you swipe your credit card — no cash transactions here … You can build your own bowl by choosing from a variety of toppings for your quinoa or pick one of the suggested 'Chef's Bowls,' each of which provides full nutritional information. Then you wait in front of a wall of translucent cubbies … When your food is ready, you'll be directed to a cubby number … our meals 'magically' appeared in their respective cubbies less than 10 minutes after we placed our orders.” One Yelper, though, experienced the downside of no human interaction, though funnily enough, this mistake was all human error. Sean D. ordered a burrito bowl with no salsa, and though his order came out labeled correctly, inside a worker had placed the bento box instead. Interestingly, Sean D.'s Yelp review of the incident is the lone one under four stars so far out of dozens already posted.
The food: Jessica W. Yelped that "beyond the novelty factor … the food at Eatsa was really, really good." Which seems to be the consensus — people expected the no-human factor to take it down a notch, but have been pleasantly surprised by the quality and freshness of the ingredients. Inside Scoop's Sarah Fritsche wrote, "Biggest surprise of all — the meal I ordered, the burrito bowl, was actually good. The quinoa and beans were perfectly cooked, the pico de gallo and guacamole were fresh and flavorful, the mushrooms added a chewy, steak-like texture and the roasted corn kernels offered a nice sweetness."
The price: Locals are used to paying upwards of $7 for just a smoothie in this town, so some were skeptical of how much food you'd actually get for that price. Lisa I. soothed that concern on Yelp, writing, "There is literally SO much food to get through … you certainly get your fill of quinoa and raw and cooked veggies." Others, like Fritsche and D'Onfro, were even able to save half for lunch the next day.
The experience: SF Weekly's Peter Kane wrote that, "Overall, eatsa is quite excellent … I feel like finally, tech is solving actual problems, and solving them well." And Fritsche had a grand old time at the space. "Dare I say it, the experience was downright fun," she wrote. "With all the interactive digital bells and whistles, it was almost like a playing a video game."