In this season of the burger bracket, we decided to reconsider the area’s best veggie burgers.
Big discovery? Veggie burgers are still hard for restaurants to get right. We applaud those that make their own patties from scratch — and really, we can’t be bothered to order the frozen Gardenburger kind of things.
But we still found that too many quickly turned into unappealing mush on a bun, completely crumbling after a couple of bites, or even when first picked up. Those didn’t make this list (maybe next time, Hopdoddy).
Below are seven of the best veggie burgers around. Our list this year emphasizes the Fort Worth area, with one standout each in Dallas and Denton.
1. Rodeo Goat
Of the burger joints, this is the best for vegetarians. There are two veggie burgers on the menu: the original Neil Young ($8.50), a vegetable patty with sprouts, green goddess dressing, tomato and avocado, and the newer Redheaded Stranger ($9), a quinoa, barley and radish patty with sprouts and spinach mayo. I like them both, but prefer the quinoa patty.
I’m even happier with Rodeo Goat since I realized you could substitute either of these on any burger among a list of more than 15 — great news, since the Redheaded Stranger is almost too austere.
I’m still exploring combinations, but I highly recommend the quinoa patty with the Mediterranean flavors of the Olivia Darling ($9), which has green olive tapenade, lettuce, tomato, roasted red pepper mayo and herbed cheese spread, or the quinoa patty on the Oh Whitney ($9.50), with beech mushrooms, caramelized onions, shaved cucumber, Gruyere and Sriracha mayo.
This little sports bar gets overlooked, probably because it’s pretty much around the corner from burger powerhouses Fred’s and Rodeo Goat. But the house-made quinoa burger ($8.99) here doesn’t mess around. The patty, made of red quinoa and cannellini beans, is good — slightly too soft, but it holds together if you’re careful. But the toppings really make this: chipotle mayo, house-made potato chips, onions caramelized in bock beer (such a good idea) and a fried egg. A real contender.
3. Pacific Table
The pecan veggie burger here ($12) is the best veggie burger I know of at a full restaurant (once-great Houlihan’s has, alas, stopped making theirs from scratch). The patty is genius, with sticky sushi rice, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, oats and a pineapple glaze. It’s slightly sweet but also has a deep umami flavor — it’s addictive, and popular even among carnivores. Another selling point is Pacific Table’s choice of healthy sides, including kale salad, cucumber salad, quinoa salad and grilled Brussels sprouts.
4. Sundown at Granada
This Dallas beer garden and restaurant, attached to the Granada Theater on Greenville Avenue, has a great menu for vegetarians and vegans. The Buddha Burger ($13) has a flavorful house-made quinoa and vegetable patty that’s topped with slaw, avocado and chipotle cream, and served with excellent sweet potato fries. Ingredients here are non-GMO and organic where possible. You can substitute non-GMO falafel or house greens for the fries.
5. Bearded Lady
This Magnolia Avenue beer garden offers a good veggie patty flecked with chunks of red peppers, and it looks a bit funky, like something you’d make at home. You can sub it on the L.U.S.T. burger ($11) for a big flavor bomb (caramelized onions, melted gouda, avocado, roasted poblano), or build your own burger around it from a list of ingredients that includes roasted baby portobellos and sauerkraut.
6. LSA Burger Co.
Denton has a lot of veggie burgers, and I’m only beginning to explore them, but LSA’s is one I’ve been coming back to. The Bohemian ($6.50) is a nice break from all the quinoa, and is also vegan if you substitute a gluten-free bun for the buttery one (vegans will also have to edit the toppings). The patty is made of black beans, brown rice, oats, onion and jalapeño, and it has a good kick even without the pepperjack cheese that comes on top.
7. Spiral Diner
The all-vegan restaurant has two choices of patty (and a third portobello option), and you can get them dressed six ways. I’d stick to the classic burger patty, which is made with soy protein and has a good meaty burger flavor (my carnivore husband likes it). It works especially well on the traditionally dressed Spiral Burger ($8.25) and with the Tex-Mex toppings of the El Paso Burger ($8.95).
The last time I ordered the other patty, a cashew-quinoa blend with carrots and spices, it had an unpleasantly soft texture (for something served on a bun) and fell apart instantly. The ingredients were good, though, for those who don’t mind a completely knife-and-fork burger.
Those who don’t often eat meat substitutes might want to be aware of the vegan bacon on some of these burgers, too (the Cowboy, the bacon-ranch cheeseburger). It’s chewy, and for me it doesn’t play well with the softer patties.
Spiral Diner’s options aren’t necessarily state-of-the-art foodie-approved burgers, but with so many choices, it’s easy to build something you’ll like.