One of the most challenging things you can do, as a person with free will and time to roam the Earth and eat things, is to sit and enjoy the taste of a veggie burger. Questions break the mind-dam and flood in: Why shape vegetables to look like a burger? Why am I eating this if I can, or have the will, to eat a meat burger? Oh hell shit, is this mayo vegetarian?
More importantly: Is it even possible to get a good vegetable burger? Hey, what was that deathly shriek I just heard in the wind?
I love cheeseburgers, I love good vegetables, and I fear veggie burgers like Roy Scheider's Chief Brody character fears the water in Jaws. Are all veggie burgers of the same horror as those compressed Morningstar discs at the grocery store? I just got cold, and the lights flickered.
I tried to target restaurants or fast-casual spots that don't exclusively-serve vegan and vegetarian. Spiral Diner has intriguing veggie burger options with cashew balls and ground-up Blockbuster cards, but my goal was to find a veggie burger that didn't suck at a place that isn't an obvious house of vegetarianism. In other words, I searched for a veggie burger that could live harmoniously with a meat burger (and some that are good to-go).
Garden Cafe - $9.50 Lentil-cumin burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, and garden remoulade Garden Cafe, which, if you haven't been, has an actual garden in the back, is not just a house of great vegetables. They have eggs that will ruin you on eggs, and a juicy, addictive turkey and bacon sandwich. This veggie burger has a believable meat-like sear on a cumin-loaded patty. A heaping dollop of tangy remoulade on top makes this a winner.
Start - $7.00 Black and white beans, almond and quinoa, avocado, romaine, tomato red onion and "scratch-made buttermilk dressing" This is the best drive-thru veggie burger in Dallas. It's also the best Hey-I-Don't-Feel-Like-Shit-Afterwards! burger experience in Dallas. Those big black beans and almonds add good texture, which is usually a characteristic of veggie burgers that makes you want to punch the heads of flowers. I scattered a few tater tots on top, too, because, you know?
Sundown at the Granada - $13.00 The Buddha Burger: House-made quinoa-veggie, avocado, pickled vegetable relish, chipotle cream Biggest and boldest veggie burger in Dallas, by far. Holding it in one hand, this was as heavy as a shotput. Sundown isn't kidding around with the price on this either. Crunchy, vivid pickles made this veggie burger punchy, and worth not throwing into some nearby dirt. Very important note: Eating this next to a person who's having the real beef burger at Sundown makes for level 10 sadness.
Liberty Burger The Woodstock: Chopped vegetables, grains, hummus and "four kinds of seeds" patty, with swiss cheese, avocado, tomato and basil garlic aioli This was another massive, seriously-bowling-ball heavy veggie burger. Looking at the description, I assumed the burger was going to be rolled in Acme, Looney-tunes-esque birdfeed. It wasn't. It was actually great. To be fair, you could probably add a few slaps of Swiss cheese and a something-something aioli and I'd probably eat a Mead journal.
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Old Monk - $6.00 Lentils, bulghur wheat, leeks, mushrooms, corn, cashews and spices with iceberg lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayo. For a buck, you can add Monterey Jack, avocado and spicy Chipotle salsita There are only a few things harder than looking through the Old Monk bar food menu--which has things like pistachio fried chicken and burgers topped with Welsh rarebit cheese--and landing on the veggie burger. It hurt a little, but Old Monk's version has a lightning bolt of energy (also a perfectly tiny Tabasco bottle). Do not, I repeat, do not forget that to add that fiery salsita to make the patty sing.
Twisted Root - $5.99 (without add-ons) (Vegan) Black bean, chickpea and quinoa. I got mine with baby mushrooms, garlic and aged Swiss. I've had a few average-to-not-great real burgers at Twisted Root, except for one made of beaver. Aside from pulverizing beaver, Twisted Root is damn good at making vegetable burgers. I added their spicy pickles to that pile of mushrooms, and there was a big white onion disk on the side. The patty was decadently rich for vegetables. It made for good eating, however,when they called my "name" (Buzz Lightyear), I was certain that everyone in the place knew I had ordered a veggie burger. I brought my shame to go.