There’s no denying that veggie burgers are having a moment. All of a sudden, what was once the comfortable realm of vegetarians and vegans who could argue about which frozen patty was most edible is a topic of discussion among gourmands. David Chang, once a vocal hater of the non-omnivorous, is serving one that “bleeds.” The New York Times is doing comprehensive write-ups. There’s not one food-eating person in the city who doesn’t adore Brooks Headley.
As a real live vegan, I have eaten quite a few veggie burgers. Like (problematic) avocado toast, it’s often the only option I have on a menu. Thanks to this extensive forced research, I have rounded up my personal favorites (R.I.P., M.O.B.). There are beet patties, lentil patties and bean ones represented, showing off how much fun you can have when you don’t stick to just eating meat.
Smorgasburg staple Chickpea & Olive have been making the vegan burger to try since launching in 2012, and now you can get them every day of the week at Whole Foods Gowanus. On Facebook Live earlier this week, they told us about their plans for the new space and also demonstrated how they make their incredible “Bacon Cheddar Ranch”—the one chef Daniel Strong notes makes meat-eaters the most angry. Their “Phatty Beet” patties are undeniably delicious, but where they excel on this one is in the building of flavor through eggplant bacon and house-made ranch sauce. Lucky for you, you can now get this burger (along with the Calexico and Polka versions) with a side of shoestring fries made in refined coconut oil at the Whole Foods location. Next time, I’ll be asking for extra confetti sauce with those—an insane flavor explosion that combines every sauce they make.
For a non-descript space on Ralph Avenue in Bed-Stuy, Toad Style has built itself quite a reputation. They make everything but their bread in house, and the cheeseburger—a mushroom and lentil patty—topped with almond cheese satisfies on a carnal level. Take extra napkins, because it’ll get messy.
This is the one that launched veggie burgers into common conversation, freaking out everyone from longtime vegans to staunch meat-eaters. While I have moved on to ordering every special available whenever I go in rather than the classic burger, this one must be noted on every list of veggie burgers as decreed by food-writing law. It changed the game by being chewy rather than mushy and rather audaciously accompanied by iceberg lettuce, as well as for its reasonable size that makes sense for the classic Martin’s potato bun on which it’s served.
When Sincerely Burger (once Dear Bushwick) first opened, they offered their veggie burger on a plantain bun. Two super-flat tostones acted as the bread, the starchy-sweetness a beautiful counterpoint to the meaty patty and acidity of pickles and ketchup. Alas, they’ve gotten rid of that option, but it doesn’t mean their veggie burger isn’t still excellent. The black bean ramen patty is both gluten free and vegan, and you can have it served on potato roll, gluten-free roll, English muffin or lettuce wrap with an extensive selection of sauces and toppings. Bonus: The drinks here are stellar.
One day I walked into Berg’n hoping to eat fries from El Meat Hook, but was instead greeted by Landhaus. Luckily, they serve superb waffle fries and an even better, very classic-style veggie burger where you can see the peas in the patty. To make it vegan, you have to get a lettuce wrap—which just means more room for fries.