A new, only-in-the-Bay burger joint is changing the fast food game, one vegan mac ‘n’ cheese at a time. Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park is what happens when masters of the vegetarian frozen food aisle take it to the streets. Andy and Rachel Berliner, the founders of Amy’s Kitchen (you’ve no doubt seen Amy’s organic, vegetarian, frozen, canned, and prepackaged foods in your local grocery store) launched their business in 1987 and over the last 28 years have mastered the mass production of healthy, non-GMO vegetarian meals. This next step seems as natural as their ingredient list: open a fast-food restaurant catering to those who’ve had to settle for fries and buns with cheese when they want to eat fast and cheap.
Photo: Courtesy of Amy’s Drive Thru Instagram
Drive On Through or Stay Awhile
Amy’s Drive Thru is one of the first organic, vegetarian drive-thru restaurants in the country (and probably the only one with a living roof!). And while “Drive Thru” may be in the name, diners are also invited to park and dine onsite, either inside the cozy cafe or outside, where several large redwood picnic tables are perfect for family meals. And the same way Amy’s Kitchen has always placed importance on the origins and sustainability of their ingredients, their tables, chairs, and even building materials are upcycled and sustainable. Amy’s sparkling chrome tables come from old, recycled auto brake drums. And just like the fancier Sonoma eateries in the area, Amy’s sources from local farms. Unlike the fancier eateries: prices are incredibly low ($2.99 for a single burger).
Photo: courtesy of Amy’s Drive Thru Instagram
The Happiest Meal for Kids
As if burgers, fries and shakes weren’t enough to keep little diners happy, they will love rocking out to the vintage, table-side jukeboxes. Starving artists are offered sturdy colored pencils (in lieu of wasteful crayons) and cute floral coloring sheets. There are plenty of highchairs, boosters and changing tables in both bathrooms. Take a hike outside and explore the rad vintage pick-up truck, complete with bewitching Plant People inside dressed up like Amy’s workers.
Photo: Courtesy of Amy’s Drive Thru
A Menu for Everybody
For anyone with food restrictions who has struggled to order at a fast-food restaurant, this menu will be music to your ears, er…mouth. Every item is vegetarian, and all can be served vegan, gluten-free or dairy free—from veggie burgers, burritos, mac ‘n’ cheese, pizza, salads, chili fries, and even milkshakes. We’ve highlighted our favorite items, and included all the juicy, crunchy, sweet details.
Chomp a Cheeseburger
Everywhere you look here, happy kiddos are munching into these cheeseburgers. No one at this vegetarian joint ever misses the meat. The cheeseburger appears utterly identical to In-n-Out’s Double-Double, with the “clamshell” style bun front-loaded and stuffed with all the goodies. This style of burger serves two purposes: it looks great and, moms and dad will love this one, you’re not left with a lapful of goo oozing out the other side. The bun strategically absorbs all the juices with this type of burger setup, perfect to the last bite.
The Holy Trinity: Burger, Chili Fries & “Fast Food” Fries
Here’s where things get really interesting: delicious somehow “meaty” chili adds a flavor bomb to fries but they’re still not soggy underneath. For purists, the “Fast Food” fries are piping hot with an über-crispy exterior but a creamy center. A lot of the fun is dipping the sticks into the organic, house-made ketchup, which tastes ever better here, too—acidic and sweet at the same delightful time. Unlike other fast food burger stops along the way, you won’t feel bloated and sluggish after dining on burgers and fries here, just happy and full of good food.
Amy’s Legendary Mac & Cheese
This is the recipe that started it all for Amy’s: That super delicious, frozen, organic Mac & Cheese, now a staple in family freezers everywhere. It’s even better prepared fresh on-site and served piping hot. You can opt for a rice flour pasta, nutty dairy-free cheese or even add some veggies in, like bright green broccoli florets Served up not-too-scalding, so little mouths can dive right in.
Gluten-Free Pizzas Galore
The secret to a good gluten-free crust is that it somehow comes off as both crunchy-yet-chewy at the same time. It’s that special indefinable quality that makes fresh bread so comforting. Here, the gluten-free crust has special milled sunflower seeds blended right in (there is also a traditional crust on offer). This here is the Margarita, nice to meet ya. You can also go with just cheese, or a nutrient-packed Spinach topping instead.
¿ Ole, want a Burrito?
Feel like getting your Chipotle on? Go for a burrito, the quintessential tube of good food served fast and fresh. This one’s The Classic: non-GMO red beans simmed till soft and tender, Mexi-rice, lettuce (organic, natch!), tomato (ditto!) and ‘Fred Junior’s’ salsa (with no sour cream or cheese for the vegan version, if that suits your fancy). Satisfying, flavorful, amazing.
Don’t Sign Off Without a Shake
Thick, frozen, fruity goodness! Strawberry, Vanilla and Chocolate can each be blended up with old school organic ice cream, or a custom non-dairy substitute (The secret is Amy’s blend of coconut ice cream & almond milk) . Tip: If you want the vegan option you’ll have to specify when you order, because the shake default is dairy. Mad props for Amy’s sustainable, plastic-free paper straws, if you want to add that along with your spoon.
58 Golf Course Drive West
Rohnert Park, Ca
Have you had a chance to try Amy’s Drive Thru? What are your favorite menu items?
All photos courtesy of the author unless otherwise noted.