Dining

We Tried Eatsa, the Automated Restaurant of the Future

This place is cheap, healthy and completely free of human interaction
Eatsa Automated Restaurant
Photo: Paul Wagtonicz

When it comes to making the most of our lunch breaks and choosing a place to eat, there are certain guidelines we like to follow:

① It should be fast. (Obviously.)

② It should be reasonably healthy. (Starting January 1.)

③ It should be affordable. (Because remember all those budgeting resolutions?) 

Eatsa, a futuristic fast-food chain with locations in California, Washington, D.C. and now New York City, tries to hit all three points. It also happens to be completely automated.

Set to open Friday, eatsa's Midtown, NYC, location resembles more of a glorified vending machine than actual restaurant. A swipe of your credit card (sorry, cash carriers; dollar bills aren't accepted here) activates an iPad with a menu of vegetarian quinoa bowls drawing inspiration from a variety of cuisines, from a Mediterranean falafel bowl to a poke bowl with portobello mushrooms.

 
If all the iPads are being used or if you want to order ahead, eatsa also has a mobile app to take your order.

A few minutes after you order, the giant LCD screen at the front of the restaurant directs you to one of 20 cubbies. Double tap the glass, and in a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie, it slides back to reveal your lunch in all its glory. From start to finish, the entire eatsa experience requires zero human interaction (although there are some employees on hand to provide assistance if you need it). Eating here is a fast, if not exactly fun experience. Although, the vegetarian menu also means everything is affordable: Most of the bowls are around $7. 


For busy or antisocial lunch goers (aka nearly everyone), eatsa might be the perfect value proposition.

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