I wanted to take a short break from the video game/comic book heavy posts of late and share my recent adventures as a vegetarian. I am currently on a mission to find the best veggie burger in Orlando. This is a tough challenge. I’ve noticed more restaurants making an effort to include vegetarian options (usually in the form of a veggie burger or hummus wrap) and I deeply appreciate the effort.
However, the foodie in me is often going “Is this the best you can do?” To give you a glimpse, here are typical problems we vegetarians often face when ordering a veggie burger in your average American restaurant:
- The patty is too soft. I don’t know why and maybe it’s the curse of the black bean burger, but more often than not, veggie burger patties are too soft. They fall apart, they’re mushy, and then on top of that, the burger lacks flavor. Nobody wants a mushy burger. If I wanted to eat mush, I’d check myself into a Charles Dickens-era orphanage.
- The bun is all wrong. Maybe they’re catering to health-conscious crew, but often the bun that comes with a veggie burger is the dreaded multi-grain bun. Which is great if you’re trying to stay away from white flour (or taste), but if I’m wanting a burger with fries, chances are I’m simply looking flavor and not a way to cut a few calories. But that’s just me. I often have to ask the restaurant to swap out the normal wheat or multigrain bun the veggie burger comes with and get the normal brioche or egg bun that tastes way better!
- All the burgers are the same! Let me guess…you have a black bean patty with some swiss cheese on a multigrain bun, maybe avocados (if we’re lucky). Whoopee. I want to see some variety! What about some garlic aioli or smoked gouda? I feel like Anton Ego from Ratatouille… “Surprise me.”
Anyway, I have chosen my top 3 veggie burgers in Orlando. I’m always on an adventure and hopeful to find more, but here are my current top three as they stand…
#3 The Skinny Puppy – Oblivion Taproom
The patty itself isn’t that spectacular (it’s simply a Gardein meatless burger); however, the add-ons (not to mention the side of tater tots) and fantastic craft beer selection makes this place my personal go-to. The Skinny Puppy comes with a soy patty, house beer cheese sauce (whaaaat?!), herb roasted mushrooms, crispy onion straws, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and a pretzel bun. Boom. (Side note: Oblivion also recently started serving pulled jackfruit barbecue platters and sandwiches, helpful for vegetarians who have an occasional hankering for pulled pork. John and I tried them last night and it was DELICIOUS. The sauce was amazing and what’s better is that the mock meat is not soy based — it’s simply jackfruit, which is a natural fruit!). Anyway, I appreciate the variety that Oblivion offers (we can order vegan wings, and even a meatless fried buffalo tender sandwich!). Props to the Skinny Puppy. You will not get skinny eating it!
#2 ‘Shroom Burger from Shake Shack
This isn’t really a veggie burger –it’s simply a Portabella sandwich but because it’s a crazy good Portabella sandwich at a burger joint, I figured this would qualify. The menu describes it as “crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses, topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce). One of my meat-eating friends said he even preferred the ‘Shroom burger to their normal burgers. There you have it. Also make sure you get some crinkle cut fries and a frozen custard or concrete. I’m a sucker for frozen custard!
#1 Quinoa Burger from BurgerFi
This is seriously the closest thing Florida has to an In ‘n Out. I know, you don’t believe me. It’s okay. I usually build a burger and get a regular egg bun, quinoa patty, American cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, ketchup. And a fried egg on top. My only beef (see what I did there?) with BurgerFi is that because of the way their computers are programmed to take orders, they don’t technically let you “build a burger” with a VegeFi burger. You actually have to order the VegeFi burger and then swap everything out. Dumb, I know. But very worth it.
Any vegetarian/veggie burger-loving people out there? Where do YOU go for burgers?
*Note: These are NOT technically vegan burgers although you can customize them as such by swapping out cheese (with the exception of Shake Shack… ). Sorry for my vegan friends.