Veggie burgers can get a bad rap for being mushy, tasteless and a poor substitute for their meaty counterparts, but these offerings from various establishments around Houston are changing the game. From beet-laden to quinoa-filled, these plant-based creations will make you forget that you're not eating meat.
10. Lankford Grocery: Of the 20 burgers listed on Lankford Grocery’s menu, only one is vegetarian — but, luckily, it’s super-tasty. There’s something really satisfying about the foil wrapping that surrounds the squishy bun sandwiching a black bean patty, fried mushrooms, avocado, Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. Go with friends so you can split a side of the super-crispy sweet potato fries, curly fries or tater tots. $7.69
9. Beaver's: Grains of rice are visible in the cashew- and walnut-studded patty, sandwiched between a domed sesame seed bun. The slightly chewy and well-crisped patty comes topped with the classics: lettuce, tomato, pickles, cheddar and an updated miso mustard. The burger is served with a side of fries, potato chips, coleslaw or side salad. $13.50
8. Moon Tower Inn: This chill dive bar housed in Second Ward, with hallmark items such as wild game hot dogs and bacon-wrapped tomatoes, churns out surprisingly delicious vegetarian options — we’re going to ignore Moon Tower's Cheesus Christ Almighty (two grilled cheese cemented together with additional cheese) for the moment in favor of the “BOB,” a reddish-hued black bean and beet patty laced with chipotle and tarragon and covered in sambal mayo, chèvre, onion and cilantro. Only two downsides: It doesn’t automatically come with fries, and the food can take awhile to come out. $9.69
7. Hay Merchant: Hay Merchant offers two fabulous versions of its "Cease & Desist Burger" — two meat or black bean-olive veggie patties sandwiched between two slices of American cheese and layered with crisp wedges of iceberg, tomato and pickles for an über-classic burger presentation. Even with two patties, the overall package is manageable — "not too big to affect your girlish figure," as they say. The bonus of ordering the veggie option — the flavorful umami-filled (if slightly on the mushy side) patties also seem about twice the size of their meat counterparts, fully extending outside the petite brioche bun. $10
6. Barnaby's: Barnaby’s stands out for its choice of four different veggie burgers — boca, hempseed, falafel and chipotle black bean burgers — and overall consistent quality. The black bean burger is one of the tastiest, with a soft texture laced with a hint of spice, but the falafel burger is also an interesting contender— you can order it like Barnaby’s spinach and feta burger and get it topped with feta, spinach, tomatoes, onions and kalamata olives instead of the normal burger dressings. Each burger comes with a side of fairly bland and uninspiring shoestring fries, but at least there’s a lot of them. $10.50
5. Natachee's Supper 'N Punch: The "Daughter-in-Law" is made with Natachee's housemade patty full of Southwestern flair. The patty is flavorful and meaty-textured, studded with black beans and sautéed red peppers and corn. It's garnished with a generous amount of melted jack cheese and onion-popping guacamole. The pale, almost powdery and tight-crumbed bun makes for a perfect bookend. The burger comes with a relatively scant but reasonable portion of hand-cut fries, or you can substitute another side (such as sweet potato fries) for $0.59. $8.99
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4. True Food Kitchen: The California-esque health restaurant interprets its veggie burger as two thick quinoa-based, gluten-free, vegan patties sandwiching layers of tomato, cucumber, lettuce and red onion drenched in tzatziki, avocado and feta. The flavor-packed quinoa patties provide a toothsome texture that makes up for the lack of a bun (though you also have the choice to add a gluten-free bun or pita for $2.50). The veggie burger is accompanied by your choice of a garlic-massaged kale salad, sweet potato hash, or half and half. $12.50
3. Petrol Station: Petrol Station makes its vegan patty in-house and smothers each crisp-tender, quinoa-studded patty in avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion and a roasted red pepper chipotle spread. The golden, super-crispy fries that come alongside are a highlight. $9.50
2. Lowbrow: Lowbrow batters and fries its “chicken-fried” black bean patty until golden, and the slightly crispy edges and bready coating make for an insanely addictive burger. The fluffy, high-domed brioche bun comes swathed in a citrusy lemon mayo and piled with tomato, cilantro and red onion alongside skin-on, hand-cut fries. $11
1. Ruggles Green: Oft-touted as the only non-meat burger carnivores will consume, as seen on Yelp, this patty is tender inside, crispy on the outside and extraordinarily flavorful — its base of sautéed vegetables and bread crumbs gets a garlicky kick from hummus, heft from potatoes and umami from almonds. Served alongside Ruggles Green's flawless sweet potato fries, this is my number one veggie burger love in Houston. $9.19