6 veggie burgers so good you won't miss the meat
February 7th, 2014
02:00 PM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

Recently, a friend unearthed this 2010 tweet from Kim Kardashian.
“I had no idea a pickle was really a cucumber! U guys totally confirmed it!”

There’s a lot that can be said here. Let’s start with how much has changed in just a few years. With the recent pickling obsession, the Kardashians are probably about to launch their own line of dills and half sours.

It’s also gratifying to see how much the world of vegetables has blown up during that time. Even McDonald’s is taking note: When activist Kathy Freston started a petition to get the chain to offer veggie burgers, she collected more than 90,000 signatures (including Mark Bittman, Alicia Silverstone, Pamela Anderson and our hero Andrew Zimmern). 

While we wait for McDonald’s to listen up and add a veggie burger to its menu, let’s round up six places that have great ones available now.

The Plant: San Francisco, California
This 100 percent organic café has a handful of Bay Area locations offering meat, including free-range poultry and wild/sustainable fish. Its menu also has a whole section of Plant Burgers, based on signature patties made from lentils, ‘shrooms, beets and cashews. The Wasabi Plant Burger is topped with raspberry aioli, wasabi and sauerkraut; the California Plant Burger is covered with white cheddar and avocado.

Green Seed Vegan: Houston, Texas
This community-focused vegan café and juice bar is popular for fresh pressed sandwiches and “chlorophyll-rich live foods.” Among the excellent veggie burgers: the Dirty Burque (a buckwheat patty with green chiles, arugula, avocado and cilantro on a whole-wheat bun) and the Big Tex (the buckwheat patty is topped with zucchini bacon, avocado, cheese and jalapeños).

Seva: Detroit, Michigan
This longtime popular Ann Arbor, Michigan, mainstay opened a Detroit location in 2010 with a huge vegetarian menu. There’s a sizable selection of veggie sandwiches, including the Seva Club sandwich with Tofurky, crispy smoked coconut and avocado.

The veggie burger options start with a choice of a tempeh burger or portobello burger, to which you can add a choice of cheddar, queso Chihuahua, Swiss, smoked mozzarella, Daiya vegan “cheddar” or Daiya vegan “mozzarella” cheese, as well as vegan BBQ sauce, spicy mayo, pesto or salsa.

Christopher’s: Cambridge, Massachusetts
The house-made veggie burger on the lengthy list of “Burgahs & Sandwiches” consistently gets raves from diners and critics. It’s topped with roasted red peppers and pesto. Vegetarian diners can also opt for the buffalo tofu burger—battered and fried tofu with buffalo sauce, blue cheese, lettuce and tomato on a French roll.
Wayward Vegan Café: Seattle, Washington
While we wait for McDonald’s to come through with a veggie burger, vegans can satisfy any and all urges for a Big Mac with the Mac Daddy: two house-made meatless patties with Reuben sauce, lettuce, “cheese,” pickles and onions on a sesame-free bun.

R+D Kitchen: Santa Monica, California
L.A. Weekly recently named this the best veggie burger in Los Angeles, and here’s why: “Made from a mix of lightly toasted brown rice, mushrooms for depth and nutty almonds for crunch and a bit of forward flavor, plus some sautéed vegetables, the patty is tender, juicy and wonderfully caramelized at the edges. Served dripping over with melted Jack cheese and a side of invitingly vibrant toppings, the veggie burger from R+D Kitchen is a straightforward example of elevated vegetarian cooking.”

More from Food & Wine:
Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants
Fantastic Recipes for Veggie Burgers
America’s Greatest Burgers
Over-the-Top Burgers
Amazing Gluten-Free Desserts

Make vegan burgers at home
A vegetarian may show up at your cookout. Do not be alarmed.
How to eat more compassionately

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Burgers • Content Partner • Food and Wine • McDonald's • Vegan • Vegetarian

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. CallousOneToo

    If it's not made from a dead animal then it's NOT a burger. The concept they're trying to sell in this article is a vegetable patty.

    February 24, 2014 at 10:13 pm |
  2. Omnivore

    I personally love the taste of beef and a good hamburger is a favorite treat of mine. That said, I also frequently buy flavored veggie-burger patties, like tomato and basil, because I also enjoy those flavors. I don't understand why it has to be one or the other. Sometimes I like veggie burger, sometimes full meat burgers. If you don't think of replacing one with the other, you can enjoy them for what they are.

    Many of these restaurants sound delicious. If I'm ever in their areas, I would definitely give them a try if they aren't too expensive.

    February 12, 2014 at 10:25 am |
  3. jangocat

    Who needs the meat? Normal humans who accept the fact that they are omnivores.

    February 12, 2014 at 9:48 am |
  4. KieranH

    Mammals need the meat....

    February 12, 2014 at 7:43 am |
  5. Jerry

    A hamburger without meat, now thats just un-American

    February 11, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
    • wadej420

      damn straight Americans are f&^kin stupid and violent after all. god n guns yeah if thats american count me out

      February 11, 2014 at 9:02 pm |
      • VladT

        You got all that just from eating meat? Perhaps your brain is not getting enough protein. Eat a burger

        March 14, 2014 at 9:29 am |
  6. Why Veggie

    I used to eat veggie burgers. Then I found out about Akaushi beef, and now I'm happy.

    February 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
  7. Breaking News!™

    PETA has organized a series of protests at McDonald's restaurants in major cities. They are organizing in groups of fifteen each, chanting "Don't beat the meat!"

    You may now return to your regularly scheduled Eatocracy.

    February 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
    • Mr. Johnson

      Sounds like they're in the wrong place. If they are chanting "Don't beat the meat" shouldn't they set up in front of a porn store?

      February 12, 2014 at 10:45 am |
  8. randoid1234

    I get the ingredients for a perfect burger at food n stuff.

    February 11, 2014 at 10:41 am |
  9. rlj

    I like to call a hamburger a hamburger and a veggie sandwich a sandwich – I do love a delicious sandwich with good mayo, crunchy veggies and even cheese – but it's not a hamburger and doesn't need to be.

    February 11, 2014 at 8:40 am |
    • Ally

      Ehhh. To me any sandwich that has a patty made of anything and is topped with condiments is a burger. Hamburger, chicken burger, salmon burger, veggie burger.

      February 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
  10. KieranH

    Carnivores are far better than herbivores, our food poops on their food...

    February 11, 2014 at 7:55 am |
    • wadej420

      yeah humans are not carnivores even if you only consume meat and cheese ( like an idiot) your are still not a carnivore humans dont posses the actual characteristics

      February 11, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
  11. shawn l

    Ironic that they use a picture of a real hamburger.

    February 11, 2014 at 7:50 am |
  12. Floyd Schrodinger

    I've tried most of the veggie "burgers". They're all gross. I'll stick with the beef. If you don't eat meat, why would you want fake meat on your plate anyway?

    February 11, 2014 at 7:38 am |
    • shawn l

      Exactly. Every time they have tried to claim "you can't even tell it doesn't have meat!" it's a lie. Only people that haven't eaten meat in years would ever be fooled into thinking that.

      February 11, 2014 at 7:48 am |
    • Ally

      I think that's the point of this article. The "first generation" of veggie burgers was an attempt to mimic a hamburger. That makes no sense to me. If you want the taste of a hamburger eat a hamburger. But more restaurants are doing veggie burgers the right way now. They make a great tasting patty. It's not supposed to taste like meat. It's just good.

      February 11, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
    • GG

      Because I would rather eat fake meat vs real meat contaminated with cancerous sick cows. That scares me much more than any fake meat ever could.

      September 8, 2014 at 4:35 pm |
  13. coffeedrunkcolt

    Isn't a burger without the beef called a salad?

    February 10, 2014 at 8:18 pm |
    • Flaming Beef Nuggets

      Yep. Could be a side dish, too. Take a chili cheese vegan burger, remove the vegan and BOOM, side dish.

      February 11, 2014 at 6:31 am |
  14. Baroness

    Vegans = Herbivores, Carnivors eat Herbivores. We're PROUD Carnivores!

    February 10, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
  15. Jan

    My family loads so much good stuff on our burgers that I remember a time my husband stopped eating about half way through his huge hamburger sandwich and started laughing uncontrollable. To my questioning, he simply showed me his hamburger and said, "look carefully." There were layers of lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cheese, avocado... but he forgot to put the HAMBURGER in the sandwich and never missed it.

    There are lots of good things one can put in a "hamburger style" sandwich. They won't be "hamburgers" but who cares as long as they are tasty, filling, attractive, and nutritious. No veggie burgers I've tried are anything like ground beef patties, but many are quite nice, as long as you don't have your heart set on it having the taste and texture of ground beef.

    February 10, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
  16. Jack Sprat

    I don't know, they all sound disgusting.

    February 10, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
    • Patrick Springer

      Take a visit to your nearby meat packing plant and tell us that's not disgusting.

      February 11, 2014 at 9:25 am |
      • Daniel

        Visit a vegetable warehouse and you'll be equally disgusted. You do realize there is an acceptable amount of insects in your veggies right? That means even you "vegetarians" and "vegans" are eating animal protein whether you like it or not.

        February 11, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
  17. Leigh

    I would love to be able to make a great homemade veggie burger, but have been unsuccessful Any good recipe would be appreciated!

    February 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
    • Valerie

      Mine have all been an embarrassing mess!

      February 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
  18. Dan

    Pretend burgers are OK, but nothing beats a hunk of dead cow.

    February 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
    • AleeD®

      Agreed. Ground up roast beast, barely cooked is right up my ....

      February 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
  19. The Enlightened Restauranteer

    Where's the beef? Signed – Clara Peller

    February 10, 2014 at 11:20 am |
  20. Jerv

    Too bad I'm not close to any of these places to try. I wonder if Kat could get a hold of their recipes and post?

    February 10, 2014 at 9:10 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Great recipe here! http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2013/11/20/vegan-holiday-recipes/

      February 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm |
  21. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    While I am not vegan, I have a lot of friends who are, and I am thrilled to see more and more restaurants adopting this trend for those who do not eat animals. I recently learned that some vegans even go as far as to not eat honey, very interesting to me!

    February 7, 2014 at 11:29 pm |
    • Veganman

      Being Vegan means not eating honey. Period.

      February 10, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
    • shawn l

      Why in gods name would you not eat honey? I keep bees in my backyard, honey, eggs and milk are gift from animals to us.

      February 11, 2014 at 7:49 am |
      • Webster

        Then you've never met a vegan. Read up on what their core values are, then you'll see.

        February 11, 2014 at 7:57 am |
      • Ally

        Some people who go vegan do so in part because they don't like cruelty to animals. In that vein, keeping bees to take their food away for our consumption is cruel.

        There are all different degrees of vegetarians and vegans depending on their reasons for following that lifestyle.

        February 11, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
  22. Carol

    In Halifax Nova Scotia, at a restaurant called Freeman's they serve an amazing Sweet Potato and Black Bean burger, with a thai sauce and or curry mayo, lettuce, onion and tomato. It is to die for. I have a friend who is a gluten free vegan. She tried it and enjoyed it so much I also tried. Now this is what I get when we go there!!

    February 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm |
    • veero

      on that Thai sauce on a vegan diet- better make sure it isn't a Thai sauce based on fermented fish…. not exactly vegan, if so.

      February 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
      • Flaming Beef Nuggets

        Figures. Ignorant vegans.

        February 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
    • Ally

      The curry mayo is also not vegan. Uses eggs.

      February 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
      • Carmen

        It is likely made with vegan mayo (Veganaise is one commercial brand), made from oil, soy milk and spices. It is easy to do in a blender and tastes delicious.

        February 11, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
        • Ally

          Yep Carmen, I didn't think of that!

          February 11, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
  23. Janeqdoe

    I like my veggie burgers with tomato, avocado, red onion and bacon... yum!

    February 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
  24. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Speaking of Buffalo, they taste good.

    February 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
    • Weeds

      Are you referring to the Kardashians? Now there's a buffalo family...

      February 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
  25. Ally

    I'm glad to see more places are being creative with veggie burgers. It's not meat so it's not SUPPOSED to taste like meat. So don't treat it like meat. Add condiments that enhance it's flavor. Not ketchup and mustard....which taste good on meat.

    February 7, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
    • Weeds

      Kim uses all those condiments to attract men to her garden of eden.

      February 7, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
  26. Beefeater

    How can you tell if someone is vegan? Don't worry. They'll tell you all about it.

    February 7, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
    • Weeds

      first smell. then taste.

      February 7, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      Gosh, that's original

      February 9, 2014 at 8:26 am |
      • The Enlightened Restauranteer

        The truth hurts, don't it though?

        February 10, 2014 at 11:21 am |
      • Bill

        How many original comments are you seeing on here?

        February 11, 2014 at 10:05 am |
    • wadej420

      good one sooooo very true. they are also so damn fit and thin, very alert and full of energy and life without all that fat and bad karma slowing them down. not to mention the ability to not buy into the society that encourages funk food, fast food, and chemical induced foods. f&^kin vain, compassionate, vegheads

      February 11, 2014 at 9:35 pm |
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