Yes, It’s a Thing.
Across society, it’s becoming increasingly popular to cut down on the intake of animal protein—whether because of moral convictions, environmental concerns or budgetary limitations. Or simply for the challenge of cooking delicious, meat-free meals! Some people are fully vegan or vegetarian, while others are just looking to cut down and go meatless one or two days a week.
While there are plenty of great cookbooks and recipes out there for making a delicious and filling meat-free dinner, what happens when you’re not at home? Whether you’re toting kids to activities or juggling your own busy schedule, eating on-the-go is inevitable.
But when you have dietary restrictions, a quick bite to eat is often far from simple, and fast-casual options can be few and far between. Yes, most fast-casual chains offer salads, and some are expanding into meatless burgers and burritos, but that’s still just one or two items on a menu.
However, Wayzata-based restaurant Stalk & Spade has taken things to the next level with a full menu of plant-based, dairy-free, fast-casual options—from burgers and chick’n sandwiches to wraps, nuggets and shakes. It even has a page on its website with allergen information for their full menu to help guide those with dietary restrictions to the right options.
The first Stalk & Spade location opened in Wayzata in the spring of 2021. Steele Smiley, who is also the Crisp & Green founder and CEO, launched Stalk & Spade out of his own experience transitioning to a plant-based diet in 2014 and experiencing the limited options for fast-casual food options. While Smiley’s Crisp & Green does offer vegan options, sometimes what you’re really craving is a juicy burger—and Stalk & Spade is Smiley’s answer to those looking for American fast-food classics.
This spring, the location is expanding to Edina—and it’s just across the street from Crisp & Green. Later this year, the chain is expanding beyond Minnesota to Florida and Iowa.
In anticipation of the Edina location’s late April opening, we interviewed Smiley to learn more about how he’s developed the Stalk & Spade brand and what some of his favorite items on the menu are.
Stalk & Spade has a fully plant-based menu. How do you define “plant-based”? Is it synonymous with a vegetarian or vegan diet?
“Plant-based” is synonymous with “vegan.” However, our food is not just for those who identify as vegan, so using the words plant-based to describe our food helps to welcome a broader group of people to our restaurants. Our food is 100 percent made from plants, so there are no animal products or byproducts [in our food], like dairy or eggs. We want to welcome vegans, vegetarians, people who are lactose-intolerant or anyone who is trying to reduce [their] meat and dairy consumption.
If the burgers and chicken patties aren’t meat—what are they made of?
We use our own proprietary blend that includes fresh, wholesome ingredients such as pea protein, beets, oats and other simple, plant-based ingredients.
Can you share more about how you and your team developed your menu? How did you decide what to include?
We set out to create a menu with traditional American classics … After extensive research and development, our inventive culinary team perfected plant-based versions of juicy burgers, crispy chicken sandwiches and tasty frozen treats that taste just like the real thing. We continue to innovate daily and will expand our menu to include more plant-based menu items over time.
What are some of your favorite items on the menu?
I steer toward the classics—the Classic Deluxe Cheeseburger [and the] Crispy Chick’n Sandwich. Our new Honey Mustard Grilled Chick’n Sandwich is another one of my frequented favorites. Chef Bill did a terrific job making that sandwich taste like the real thing.
What would you say to someone who has never tried a plant-based alternative to animal products before? What can you expect in terms of
taste and texture?
Our plant-based menu items taste just like the real thing. Most people can’t even tell a difference, and you’ll find that you won’t ever crave traditional, low-quality fast-food again. It’s a choice you can feel good about, for you and the environment.
Stalk & Spade
3925 W. 50th St.
STALK & SPADE