Once a bland alternative to North America’s fast-food favourite, the veggie burger has become a well-loved meal in its own right.
Gone are the days of stale tofu patties and predictable trimmings. The seven veggie burgers evaluated in this article are all worth sampling and, unlike most burger joints, the restaurants that make them are all worth visiting. Let the hunt begin!
The Lo Pub
330 Kennedy St.
Veggie Burger, $6.99
The Lo Pub may be a great place to have a drink and check out awesome music, but I can’t recommend its veggie burgers. Thickly sliced cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts, tomato and mayonnaise top a relatively bland patty. Apart from Cousin’s, the Lo Pub is the only place I’ve reviewed that doesn’t make their own patties. It’s not that it tastes bad, but if it wasn’t for the mayonnaise this burger wouldn’t taste like much of anything. And at $7 a pop (!), I can’t help but feel a little cheated by The Lo Pub’s uninspiring rendition.
164 Stafford St.
Tubby’s Famous Veggie Burger, $4.75
If you can look past all the Burton Cummings glamour shots covering the walls, Tubby’s offers a veggie burger for those who like their napkins translucent. It features a patty made with chickpeas, carrots, onions and a bunch of undisclosed spices. The burger comes dressed with your choice of sundried tomato mayonnaise or spicy Thai sauce. Neither sauce is remarkable, but, as far as I’m concerned, some mayonnaise is better than no mayonnaise.
587 Ellice Ave.
Yam Burger, $5.00
With a patty made of yam, vegetable protein, rice and seeds, I was expecting a bit more from this burger. Though the patty has a wonderful crunch and a nice sweet flavour, the burger as a whole is pretty unexciting. Apart from tomato and onion, the yam burger just doesn’t have much pizzazz. With the right sauce, it could be a surefire hit, but as it stands you’ll have to depend on ketchup or mustard for flavour.
116 Sherbrook St.
Garden Burger, $6.95
It may be small, but the Garden Burger is plainly and simply delicious. All the complimentary parts of this burger work together for a taste that’s sweet and subtle. Chutney, a creamy cilantro sauce and crunchy deep fried onions top a patty made of flax seed, chickpeas, lentils and sunflower seeds. The burger comes on a whole wheat bun that is so satisfying, it almost outshines its contents. Shame about that price.
Black Sheep Diner
540 Ellice Ave.
Nut Burger, $8.50 (comes with hashbrowns, soup or salad)
When they say nut burger, they aren’t kidding around. Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of nuts. It comes topped with mango chutney, lettuce and tomato and your choice between a slice of Bothwell cheese, a slab of avocado or a healthy portion of goat cheese. I just couldn’t get past the nutty bitterness of the patty and I’m left feeling like the burger was less than the sum of its parts. Still, I know quite a few people go nuts (ha!) for this burger. The hashbrowns were stellar (as is pretty much everything else at the Black Sheep), but the burger is definitely an acquired taste.
55 Sherbrook St.
Veggie Burger, $4.25
A definite favourite among regulars, Cousin’s veggie burger, which contains bhujia, tamarind chutney, banana peppers, sweet pickles and onions spread over two golden, curry-flavoured patties, is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. I’ve heard complaints that the patties taste too much like samosas (which isn’t surprising given that they’re made by neighbouring Indian restaurant Charisma), but I’m not about to complain.
The Underground Café
70 Arthur St.
Sun Burger, $5.75
If you can manage to find it, one of the Exchange District’s best kept secrets offers a unique and healthy take on the veggie burger. Served on a toasted whole wheat bagel, this patty is made of rice, eggs, cheese, sesame and sunflower seeds. It’s also smothered with a savory lime-dill sauce and topped with lettuce, tomato and green pepper. Though it’s a little on the expensive side, this is a dense burger that will leave you feeling energized – unless, of course, you give in and order another one.
Published in Volume 63, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 26, 2009)