Consider this an interim report. My quest for the Twin Cities’ best veggie burgers could go on forever, and it probably will. We’ve compiled more than 50 recommendations from readers into an interactive Google Map, and if I discover more favorites, I’ll just keep adding to the list. So can you. Thanks to all of you who wrote in. Every pin represents a veggie burger recommended by at least one reader; red pins represent readers’ favorites, and stars represent my favorites.
But let me make one thing clear: I wasn’t looking for something that tastes just like a “real” hamburger, and in any case, I didn’t find any. And I don’t think that’s what any of the veggie burger chefs were out to create. Rather, I think they approached it as a creative challenge: once you free yourself from the requirement of ground meat, what’s the tastiest, most interesting thing you can replace it with? The possibilities are almost endless: veggie burgers made from black beans (Muddy Waters and the Birchwood Cafe), chickpeas or felafel (the Red Cow, Three Tiers Bakery Bistro and World Street Kitchen), black rice (Pat’s Tap), bulgur wheat, and more.
My own favorites included:
The Thai tempeh burger ($7) at the Modern Times Cafe, 3200 Chicago Ave, S., Minneapolis, is topped with jalapenos, fresh basil, cilantro, ginger, and garlic, and served on a potato bread bun. The patty didn’t taste very Thai, but it was delicious – crisp on the outside, textured and creamy on the inside. A dill pickle spear is included, but for an extra $4.50 you get your choice of fries, soup, or a generous side salad (shown).
The patty isn’t terribly interesting, but what makes the veggie burger ($8, with choice of fries or salad) at Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis, something out of the ordinary is the toppings of porcini mushrooms, spinach and taleggio cheese.
It might be a stretch to call the Bryant Burger ($9) served at The Lynn on Bryant (5003 Bryant Ave. S., Minneapolis) a real veggie burger, since it is served open-faced, and you definitely can’t eat it with your hands, but whatever you call it, it’s delicious. Made with bulgur wheat, it comes topped with goat cheese and cabbage slaw, and accompanied by chickpea fries.
Pat’s Tap, 3510 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis: black rice gives this one a distinctive chewy texture, and the combination of beets, Swiss cheese, arugula and pickled radishes give it a lively range of flavor. Served with house-made chips for $12, or substitute fries ($2) or a salad ($3).
The $9 felafel burger served at World Street Kitchen, 2743 Lyndale Ave.S., Minneapolis. Made from an old family recipe of chef Sameh Wadi’s, this one is very simple—just a burger-sized patty of fried chickpeas and spices, served in a bun. But if you like falafel, you’ll love this one, which is crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and less goopy than the usual pita pocket version.
It has been a couple of months since I enjoyed this felafel burger ($7.50) at Three Tiers Bakery Bistro, 5011 34th Ave. S., Minneapolis, topped with pickled cabbage and onions, roasted red peppers, sliced cucumbers and a sriracha mayo, but it was definitely a winner. The side salad is $3.50 extra.
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