My Spud was Kind of a Dud. Restaurant Review: Potatopia

Do you like Chipotle? Do you like potatoes? Do you like toppings? If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, read on. If you answered no to one or more of those questions…who are you?

(Any excuse for DRad to be on my blog.)

Fast casual restaurants are becoming more and more common, especially in metropolises throughout the country. (I just really wanted to use the word metropolis…)

Chains like Chipotle and Chop’t have found success because they’re quick, yet claim to offer customers with fresh, natural ingredients unlike those found at true “fast food” establishments.

 I won’t lie- sometimes, fast casual restaurants can overwhelm me. There are too many options. The menus are complicated. Am I building my dish as I go? Am I choosing from a pre-determined menu? Are you going to charge me $2 extra for each vegetable that I ask for? WHY IS THE GUAC EXTRA? There are people behind you in line who are clearly regulars, using terminology from secret menus that you one day hope to decode, and the workers are staring you down impatiently, judging you for calling that salsa “tomatoes.”

But despite my fast-casual social anxiety, I recently visited Potatopia- where you can customize your very own bowl of POTATOES.

I’m part Irish and therefore I LOVE potatoes! I remember over a year ago, when I was still living in the West Village, and I saw the Potatopia storefront pop up on 6th Avenue. I immediately texted my momma (that’s where my Irish comes from) and let her know that NYC was yet again proving to be the best city in the world, with a restaurant dedicated to potatoes. It’s a little ridiculous that it took me THIS long to get there- considering they have now expanded to two locations and have a third on the way.

(Seen on my walk to Potato-land)

What got me to finally check it out? Well, of course I follow them on Instagram, and they had an amazing special during the month of September (National Potato Month- who knew?) where a meal (sans protein) plus a drink was $4 after 4p.m.! They had a similar special for the Halloweek- $5 meals before 5 p.m.!

Let me break this down for y’all so you don’t get anxiety when you visit Potatopia.

Step Number 1: Choose your potato. 
Potatoes are amazing in many different forms, so this first step may cause a little bit of a struggle. I mean, you could go basic baked potato or get a little crazy with a smashed potato. Not mashed, smashed. There’s a difference, and if you don’t know it, you’re about 15 years behind the potato trends people! Get with it! Smashed potatoes, according Peter Hoffman in this New York Times article, means ''Basically, you give the potato a good kick inthe pants and send it to the plate.” Lumps, skin and all.

Feeling healthy? Go for the baked sweet potato, which they will make for you with or without olive oil, salt and pepper.

Prefer your potatoes fried? (Don’t we all?) They’ve got you covered there as well- skin chips, curly fries, shoe string fries, sweet potato crinkle and TATOR TOTS! Go big or go home with the au gratin potatoes- because cream, cheese and butter make everything better!

(Potato Porn- NSFW)

Depending on what Build-Your-Own Potato option you choose, your meal will cost $5.75-$6.95 to start.

Step Number 2: Choose your protein, if that floats your boat.
Want to get fancy and add some substance to that potato of yours? The answer should probably be yes. There are normal protein choices like chicken, steak, and bacon to add to your potato- but you could also choose shrimp, lox, vegan chili or a fried egg.

Careful on this step- each protein costs extra, and depending on which you choose, you could be paying between $1.00 (for the egg) and $3.50 (for the steak). 

Step Number 3: Toppings Time!
The best part about the toppings is that you can pick as many as you want and they’re all FREE! So go ahead, load up that spud bowl with your choice of cilantro, arugula, jalapenos, red onion, zucchini, black olives, corn, mushrooms, scallions, broccoli, garlic, parsley and sweet peppers. Or just say you want a little bit of everything…

Step Number 4: Cheese <3
Cheese. If you skimp on this part, I envy your self-restraint and also question your humanity. You can choose up to two cheeses, and after that, they charge you extra. While I think the menu would be enhanced with a goat cheese option- you’re still sure to find a fromage that tickles your fancy, whether it be asiago, parmesan, cheddar, swiss, pepperjack or mozzarella.

Step Number 5: And to top it all off… SAWCE
Only one sauce is included so choose wisely…

By that I mean just choose one. They all make my mouth water! Ranch Aioli, Chipotle Ketchup, BBQ, Chili Pepper Aioli, Melted Cheddar, Chipotle, Garlic Aioli, Sour Cream, Truffle Aioli, Ketchup, Savory Bacon Aioli, Parmo Aioli, Roasted Pepper Aioli…

Step Number 6: DIG IN
I loaded my sweet potato with veggies, some parmesan and a fried egg with some of the roasted pepper aioli on the side.

Overall, this wasn’t phenomenal, yet I was still a fan, in the end. Let me explain.  The potato was cooked fine, but then the toppings are added and they are raw, which I didn’t like. Cold toppings on a hot potato. Raw broccoli? Meh. Once I got it home and heated it on my own, it was improved. The sauce was so yum.

I would love to see more vegetable options and the ability to have my vegetables cooked along with the potato. Some roasted carrots and cauliflower on top of that sweet potato would be a game-changer.

At the end of the day, choosing to do Potatopia the healthy way was probably my downfall. I would have been better off making a homemade sweet potato with my own toppings (uhm HI, this dish that I made was amazing!) and choosing the fries and cheese and bacon while visiting Potatopia.

(My loaded sweet potato > Potatopia's?)

Still, having a place where you can load a healthy carb up with vegetables and protein is a step in the right direction, and when they offer deals like $4 meals after 4 p.m. and $5 meals before 5 p.m., it’s worth it if you’re in a rush and need to grab something.

Plus, it photographs really well.  

(Everything looks fancier with a fried egg on top!)

I’ve been back for a return visit, which says something!

If my wonderful breakdown of the ordering process isn’t enough to calm your fast-casual social-anxiety- the folks at Potatopia have come up with a few signature meals of their own, so you can just walk up to the counter and say, “I’ll have the Lower East Sider please,” and they will present you with a beautiful bowl of tator tots, scallions, salt, lox, cilantro and sour cream.

The best thing about Potatopia is that you can either make it a healthy meal, or do a complete 360 and make it a carb-heavy, cheese-laden belly bomber.

As you wish, my friends.