M2O, shorthand for “made to order,” is a casual new burger and salad place that opened at 5th and Monroe streets in Philadelphia’s Queen Village neighborhood.
Steps from South Street, this casual spot offers a nearly limitless array of options for burgers and salads. The vibe is malt shop minimal, with takeout/online orders comprising a significant chunk of the clientele and the rest enjoying a bustling, clean dining area.
Under the management of Alex Russakoff, m2o provides a menu that allows diners to choose their own combinations.
Burgers are available in beef or veggie; bread can be pretzel, potato, wheat roll or a bread-free lettuce wrap. Toppings range from the simple — lettuce, tomato, pickle — to the outré — grilled kale, onion rings, avocados. Salads offer similar flexibility; guests start with a choice of leaf (arugula, romaine, kale, romaine), then add toppings, cheese, protein and dressing.
Fountain sodas are made with real cane sugar. Bottled drinks and juices round out the beverage menu. And BYO is an option; beer is a perfect accompaniment.
For those who don’t want to think too much, the restaurant offers several standard options in both burger and salad combos. We tried the village salad, which offered a healthy mix of arugula, clementines, walnuts, sprouts, sunflower seeds, goat cheese and maple balsamic dressing. The ingredients were fresh and the blend of sweet and savory flavors complementary.
Our burgers were also pleasing to the palate. The patties are of a sensible size, probably four to five ounces of meat, pressed thin and cooked through. We opted for pretzel rolls, lettuce, pickles, onions and m2o sauce, which is a ketchup/mayo-based condiment that works well with the burgers. One of our posse went for the onion ring topping — adding an interesting and flavorful crunch. The sweet potato fries were fantastic, nicely crisped on the outside.
There is also a small kids’ menu and a variety of fries with toppings. And then there are the handspun shakes, made with Bassett’s ice cream, and fruit smoothies. I’m still dreaming about their sweet and salted caramel shake.
Russakoff explained the concept: “We understand that people have different dietary needs and preferences. … Growing up, we had close relatives that were strictly kosher. Others didn’t observe at all. We learned that no matter what, you accommodate your guests. That was a strong cultural tradition that was absolute in our house. While m2o is not kosher, we can certainly accommodate vegetarian and vegan preferences and avoid mixing meat and dairy.”
Although he studied computer science and math in college, Russakoff has been in the restaurant business for 10 years.
“I started working at a Wawa in college, and the food business stuck with me. When I think about how I got here, I think about how growing up in a big, raucous Jewish family influenced my ability to meet and connect with different types of people, especially around food. This is crucial in the hospitality business. Our shared history enabled me to relate and empathize. My dad was the friendliest guy around; he could tell jokes all day long, and I guess that ease with people rubbed off.”
If you go:
M2O is at 721 S. 5th St. (corner of Monroe). It is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., except on Sundays when it closes at 8 p.m.