Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I'm off traveling and spending the holidays with my family and pets, so here's to you and yours and Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas Eve!


I'll have some new posts up after the holidays, including an old favorite veggie burger from my hometown which I just had the chance to enjoy again last night for the first time in several years, and finally photographed for a blog review :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Union Square Holiday Market: Mighty Balls

Question of the Day: Does a meatball slider count as a burger?

I confess, I have a sentimental weakness for the Union Square Holiday Market. Sure, it’s a lot of the same stuff year after year and it’s way overpriced and I rarely even make any purchases… but I love just walking through the festive atmosphere and looking at all the beautiful things under all the holiday lights.


This year, a new vendor caught my eye – Mighty Balls (har, har), serving gourmet meatballs on heros and sliders. Sliders! That means burgers, right? Their menu said they had veggie balls. So I decided that, even though you could argue it’s not really a burger, I had to try them.


I ordered two sliders – you get to choose your balls and your sauce, so I got African Onion sauce on one of my veggie balls, and Cranberry Horseradish on the other. All of the sauces are vegetarian except for the “Not Your Average Brown Sauce” – which I appreciated the vendors warning their vegetarian customers about. The balls themselves contain egg and cheese, so they’re unfortunately not vegan-friendly.

They look like burgers to me!

The Onion Sauce was definitely the better of the two – saucy and tangy and the perfect compliment to the patty… er, meatball, I mean! And it had peppers and pieces of onions in with the sauce, so it was more than just liquid poured over the meatball. The Cranberry Horseradish was tasty but there wasn’t enough of it on the slider, so that one ended up being too dry.

The buns were light and sweet, easy to hold, kept the balls and sauce safely inside with minimal oozing out the sides, and were the perfect size to accommodate the veggie balls. The veggie balls themselves were a mixed mash of vegetables (I couldn’t really identify specific ingredients), fried on the bottoms, which really brought out the taste of the cheese in them. I probably would have appreciated this more if I still ate dairy with any regularity, but since I hardly ever eat cheese now I’ve kind of lost my ability to enjoy it. The balls were a little dry, but the onion sauce at least made up for that on one of the sliders.


Mighty Balls just opened last spring. They don’t have a brick-and-mortar location but they describe themselves as a “mobil vending company” and sell their meatballs at fairs like the Holiday Market and the Hester Street Fair, and do catering and other events. Check their website to find out where you can find them next.

Cost: $3.50 per slider
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 3      Bun: 5      Toppings: 4

Mighty Balls
Currently selling at the Union Square Holiday Market until Christmas, December 25th. Check their website for other upcoming events and locations.

I feel like there's enough of an argument to be made in favor of reviewing meatball sliders like burgers… or maybe I’m just trying to justify another trip to The Meatball Shop in the near future? ;)
What do you think?

YumVeggieBurger review #77

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gardein Beefless Burger

I heard some good reviews of Gardein’s faux-meat products awhile back, so I’ve been curious to try them. Especially after I learned that they make a veggie burger, too!


Described on the packaging as “The Ultimate Beefless Burger” this vegan burger patty looked pretty meat-like to me as it sizzled in the frying pan. I even felt a little nervous about it, it seemed so much like real beef! Instead of the infamous “hockey puck” shape of most store-bought veggie burgers, this one looked more natural, like a home made patty.


I loaded it up with avocado, greens, and hot sauce on a fresh roll. Avocado just goes so well on everything, in my book. Especially when they are on sale ;)



The taste is very similar to Boca’s traditional “hamburgers”. I didn’t find it very different at all, actually, except for the shape as I previously mentioned. I was surprised, because I had been expecting Gardein to be a vast improvement on the usual frozen veggie burger patty. The texture was that soy, faux-meat texture I think all vegetarians are intimately familiar with by now.


It wasn’t very flavorful on its own, maybe next time I’ll try slathering it with barbecue sauce while it’s still in the frying pan. Not terrible, but there are better store bought burger patties out there. Although I am a fan of Gardein’s other faux-meat products like their various flavors of “chicken” (which, I should note – come with really delicious sauces, which is probably why I enjoyed them so much more than the burger).

My local grocery store doesn’t seem to carry Gardein products, although when I went upstate for a weekend last month I saw a bunch of them at a big supermarket up there, even way out in the country, which surprised me. Where did I end up finding mine?


Bed Bath & Beyond! No, really. I didn’t realize they had so many food products either. But they do! And a lot of vegetarian stuff at that! I was quite impressed. And with one of those “save $5 when you spend $15 or more” coupons that I get from them in the mail every so often… it’s the perfect place to stock your freezer with a few bags of faux-meat products.

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
purchased at: Bed Bath & Beyond in Manhattan
price: $4.99 for a bag of 4 burger patties

YumVeggieBurger review #76

Monday, November 28, 2011

Vegetarian Thanksgiving 2011

Happy Post-Thanksgiving!

My family did several different Thanksgiving dinners this year, due to work/travel schedules and locations. One of these was an entirely vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner (!!!) because my cousin, whose family hosted the dinner, is a newly-converted vegetarian.

I made the amazing eggplant cashew nut roast that I make every year, and it was very well-received yet again:

and because my father's weakness is pecan pie, I made my first ever pecan pie as well:
As I expected, the ingredients are pretty much sugar, sugar, and more sugar. With a few pecans on top. Definitely the least healthy thing I ate all weekend.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011



Although BRGR serves a veggie burger, their restaurant is full of pamphlets and propaganda about the merits of grass-fed beef, which made me feel kind of uncomfortable as a vegetarian. This is definitely one of those burger joints where the veggie burger is the ugly stepchild on the menu.


And it is another place with that “build your own” option as well as menu suggestions. I went with the “cultivated garden burger” – their suggested veggie burger combination, because I assume that this is the way a restaurant believes their burger is best showcased, and I like to give them a chance to show me their veggie burger at its best!

The friendly cashier told me they had just switched over to using a new kind of veggie patty – she knew for sure that it was vegan, but couldn’t tell me whether the bun it is served on contained dairy or not. I feel like, even though I’m not even vegan myself, I am constantly educating people on the difference between vegan and vegetarian because I sincerely want to make this blog a useful resource for veggie burger lovers of all kinds.

And inevitably I encounter a lot of restaurant employees who have never even considered the fact that bread often contains dairy. To be fair, I didn’t think about that myself until I lived with some vegans in college. A lot of restaurants seem proud to announce that their burger is vegan, because the patty is free of animal products. But then they hesitate and admit that they aren’t sure about the ingredients in the bread. Vegans aside, with the number of lactose-intolerant people in the world, I find this pretty shocking! And at BRGR in particular, because their whole shtick is “grass-fed beef”, this lack of knowledge about ingredients seems hypocritical (or I guess it only applies to meat?).

Anyway, my burger…


The patty was very hearty, chock full of seeds and grains, along with peppers, peas, and that familiar soy-based texture. There was a tanginess to it that I couldn’t quite place. I wish it had been a bit firmer or crispier, overall it was just too mushy to impress me.


The default toppings from the menu included gruyere cheese, avocado, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. The cheese was more rubbery than melty and gooey, and I felt cheated by the couple of sad-looking small pieces of avocado. The herbed mayo was quite good, but its taste competed with that of the pickles, and I think I would have preferred just the pickles.

The bun said wheat, but it was too light-colored to be whole wheat. Very soft, and fresh (points for that!), sprinkled with seeds. It would have actually been more delicious on its own with just a bit of butter, rather than a burger. The sweetness of it was nice, but not a good match for the tangier, more savory flavors of the burger.

I think this is my new favorite veggie burger photo, what a wonder colored backgrounds can do!

Cost: $9.95
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 2       Toppings: 3

1026 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10065
second location in Chelsea – check website for address

YumVeggieBurger review #75

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Strange Matter

I went down to Richmond again last week to visit my good friend Christine – and because there are still a number of veggie burgers I did not try on my last visit, I took the opportunity to scratch one more off the list. Not to mention that being away for a three-day weekend provided the luxury of time to do such veggie-burger eating. I’ll be honest, my tv job is keeping me so busy that I don’t find myself with as much time for veggie burgers or blogging as I had in the past when I was more sporadically-employed. No regrets, since I love my job – but, just not enough hours in the day sometimes.

So I borrowed Christine’s bicycle and peddled over to Strange Matter – which is a cute alternative restaurant in the daytime and seems like it turns into a great live music venue at night. Definitely the kind of place I could see myself spending a lot of time in if I lived here. Richmond has quite a vibrant alternative and vegan side to it, which impressed me – and if I’m saying that after living in NYC for years, you know it must be true!


There are a ton of vegan options on Strange Matter’s menu – I wished I could try more of them. Vegan buffalo wings and vegan white Russians, among other things, caught my eye.

I ordered a drink called a Laura Palmer (how could I resist?) and then got into a conversation with the bartender and her friend about Twin Peaks, and showed them photos of my Halloween costume. Because I'm a dork like that.


The vegan lentil burger came with 1 side dish, and while there were a lot to choose from, I settled on the vegan macaroni. It was amazing, possibly the best vegan macaroni I’ve had at a restaurant (I make my own, which I think is pretty killer, so I’m often disappointed by restaurant versions). Thick and creamy, perfect comfort food. I would probably eat this at least once a week if I lived in Richmond.

Luckily the portions weren’t insane, so I still had room for the main attraction – the veggie burger!


It was just as delicious, a spicy patty of lentils and carrots – rather mushy, but it still stayed on the bun surprisingly well. I splurged and added vegan cheese (50 cents extra) to my burger, which was the perfect combination with the fresh spinach and tomato that it came with. The orange cilantro veganaise sauce was lighter than I was expecting, but still added a nice hint of flavor to the burger.


The bun was the only part that hit the “just average” mark – I’m biased towards more hearty, granier buns.

I saw a notice on the menu that all the burgers are half price on Tuesday evenings, too. So if you are in Richmond, I’d recommend checking this place out!

Cost: $7.25 (+ $0.50 for vegan cheese)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4      Bun: 3      Toppings: 5

Strange Matter
929 West Grace Street
Richmond, VA 23220


YumVeggieBurger review #74

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

MorningStar Tomato & Basil Pizza Burgers


I bought these on sale awhile back, but they were just sitting in my freezer because usually when I have a craving for a burger, I don’t want it to taste like pizza. That’s a pizza craving – very different. And answered with a pita, some sauce, and daiya toasted under the broiler for a few minutes… mmm.

But eventually I had to try the “pizza burger”.


I figured since it was already pizza-flavored, I’d top it with tomato sauce and daiya mozzarella… under the broiler for a few minutes to toast the bun and melt the daiya.


Looks pretty delicious! And it wasn’t bad. I mean, you really can’t go wrong when you had sauce and gooey melty daiya. The burger patty itself was definitely strongly flavored with basil and oregano, the usual pizza flavorings. I don’t know if I would have really enjoyed it without the sauce and daiya though – on its own, or with more traditional burger toppings like lettuce and tomato, it just wouldn’t be that great.


And I was disappointed to realize that this was another one of those MorningStar products that is not vegan – actually, the box advertises that it has mozzarella and provolone inside the patty (I didn’t look at it too carefully). Since I can only eat a limited amount of dairy, I thought I was doing a good job by topping it with daiya – but I hadn’t counted on cheese being inside the patty!

I don’t think I’ll buy these burgers again – both because the taste wasn’t so amazing and because of the cheese. But there may be more pizza burgers in my future… those toppings were pretty delicious. I’ll just put them on a different patty next time.

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
MorningStar Farms Tomato & Basil Pizza Burger
purchased at Key Food in Astoria
price: on sale, 2 boxes for $7.00 (regular $5.49 per box -4 patties per box) for

YumVeggieBurger review #73

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Yet another burger joint in Astoria?

Last weekend I snapped this photo as I walked past the under-construction facade of the new "Burger Club" restaurant on the corner of 30th Ave and 32nd street.


Although they already have their website URL printed on the awning of the building, the site itself doesn't offer any information aside from "COMING SOON".

Seems like my neighborhood is in the midst of a gold rush of burger joints right now. Will this latest edition be any good? Will it be able to stand up against Bare Burger's two locations?
Most importantly, will Burger Club offer a veggie burger on their menu?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sunshine Burgers

I wanted to try a new brand of store-bought veggie burger, so I picked up a box of these the last time I was at Whole Foods (which has by far the biggest selection of frozen veggie burger patties). I’d never heard of Sunshine Burgers before, but they looked good (and weren’t as expensive as some of the other options!).


The box says “not meant to be a beef imitation but an excellent flavor sensation of their own” – that’s my veggie burger philosophy too! These patties are organic, vegan, and gluten-free as well.


I fried a patty (frozen, straight from the freezer РI never let them thaw, and some packages even tell you not to) with a little bit of olive oil on my stovetop. And because I was craving sweet peppers, I saut̩ed a few slices of those for toppings. With barbecue sauce. Yum.


The patty was delicious – the flavor was very rich and nutty. Slightly sweet but still savory. If you don’t like sunflower seeds, I can’t imagine you’d enjoy this, because it tastes very strongly of them. But that was a plus for me, as I enjoy them quite a lot. The ingredients are so simple – listed on the box as brown rice, ground raw sunflower seeds, carrots, herbs, and sea salt. That’s it! But so tasty.

And yes, that’s one of those amazing buns that I buy at my local Greenline Organic Grocery. These buns are my first choice for making burgers at home.

I was really, really craving barbecue sauce at the time.

While nothing beats the convenience of the Morningstar and Boca products that my local grocery store carries, and nothing beats the price of Trader Joe’s burgers… as far as taste goes, these Sunshine Burgers may be one of my new store-bought favorites. I bought the “original” but on their website it looks like it comes in other varieties too, so maybe I’ll try one of those next.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Sunshine Burgers
purchased at Whole Foods
price: $4.39 for one box of 3 patties

YumVeggieBurger review #72

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Queens Restaurant Week

Did you know that it's Queens Restaurant Week? (well now you do)

And one of my all-time favorite veggie burgers is a part of it - Astor Bake Shop has a special restaurant week menu featuring their orgasmically-delicious lentil burger.


The $25 prefix menu for a dinner for two (how can you beat that??) gives you an appetizer (soup or salad), a burger, and dessert (and trust me, their desserts are amazing!). You have the option of the beef burger or the lentil burger, so it could be the perfect date night dinner for a vegetarian dating a meat eater ;)
Click here to view their events page and download the full restaurant week menu.

I'm definitely going to be heading there for dinner one night before restaurant week is over!

check out the review I wrote last year of Astor Bake Shop HERE.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

lunch from 5 Napkin

I am getting seriously spoiled by the places we've been ordering lunch from at work... First Bare Burger and now 5 Napkin Burger!


Don't eat this one too close to your computer! It will fall apart a bit in your hands and land in heavy pieces splattering delicious sauce everywhere. Although I have still never had to use quite as many as five napkins to clean it up ;)

read my review of dinner at 5 Napkin HERE.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

El Ay Si

My friend had a groupon to El Ay Si, so he invited me to come have dinner with him after work. Since I’m working in Long Island City right now, I happily agreed to meeting in such a convenient spot – particularly at a restaurant I have been hearing good things about since it opened.

But somehow, despite having read numerous rave reviews of El Ay Si online, I had overlooked the fact that they serve a veggie burger! So I arrived at dinner armed only with my iPhone’s camera – which wouldn’t be such a problem in a brightly-lit space or in broad daylight, but we sipped drinks at the bar for awhile as we waited for a table, so the sun had set by the time we ordered our food, and the lighting in the restaurant is dim and romantic – great for a date, but not for food photography!


So I apologize in advance for the quality of these photos – because they definitely don’t do this burger justice.


The bun was flakey and sweet, just the way I love a good burger bun. The toppings consisted of a deliciously-smokey chipotle sauce, carmelized onions, lettuce, and tomato.

This is an example of a case where the bun and the toppings really make the burger – because they were both spectacular, while the burger patty itself in this instance was a little dry, and not quite up to the same level as the amazing flavors of the other components. It consisted mainly of beans, and its flavor was good, it just needed a little extra something.


The waitress told me it was made with eggs, so not vegan – and she didn’t know if the bun contained dairy or not, so the lactose-intolerant should err on the side of caution here.

I was so annoyed at myself for not carrying my real camera with me this day – the restaurant was beautiful, a great place for dinner (and would be an even better place for a date!). Hopefully I’ll return sometime in the future and get some better photos to share!

Cost: $8 +$3 for avocado
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 3      Bun: 5      Toppings: 5

El Ay Si
47-38 Vernon Blvd
Long Island City, NY 11101

YumVeggieBurger review #71

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I came to Union Square after work yesterday to run some errands, but quickly realized I was starving. So I checked the yelp app on my phone where I’ve bookmarked all the veggie burgers I have yet to try (best idea EVER! Such a quick and easy way to look up a nearby veggie burger when I am out running around the city!). I thought I had already tried all the spots near Union Square, but to my surprise, I noticed one little arrow on the map that was unfamiliar – Stand4.

I’m not sure what the bull is for… beef?

It looked like a bar from the outside (complete with tealights spread across the bar), but the menu said it was all about burgers. And they had a $9 veggie burger, so I decided that would be dinner.


Fries are sold separately (I’m getting used to this the more I see it, but it still feels wrong), and there were additional toppings you could add to your burger for a few extra dollars, but aside from a variety of cheeses there weren’t many options, so I just ordered a basic veggie burger with no extras. The bartender who took my order confirmed that the burger was vegetarian, but not vegan – although she didn’t say what ingredient prevented it from being vegan (I’d guess eggs).


When it arrived, I was surprised and delighted to see the two tiny fried pickles on the plate next to it – what a cute idea! Unfortunately, the pickle slices were so small and the fried batter so greasy that all I tasted was fry grease. Big disappointment. I’ve been spoiled by Sweet Afton’s fried pickles anyway though, no other ones taste quite as good anyway, even when they aren’t smothered in grease.


Luckily, the burger itself was better than the pickles. The patty was tall and thick – I’d call it a very aesthetically pleasing patty (something I’ve never considered giving points for before, but this one deserved it). Packed with beans and bits of zucchini, it held its shape well – with a nice crispy fried exterior. The flavor was slightly earthy, very mild. Savory.


The patty was definitely the best part. The bun was fresh, but nothing exciting. Not even toasted. I thought the tomato and lettuce were not enough toppings to compete against such a large amount of bun and patty. There was some “onion marmalade” hidden underneath the patty (at first I thought it was part of the patty), but it didn’t add too much flavor. I added the house-made ketchup to the second half of my burger, and it did have an interesting zing to it that ordinary ketchup does not – but it masked the nice, subtle flavor of the patty which I had been enjoying. I think a different flavor of sauce would be a better compliment for it.

But still, I was pleasantly surprised by this burger place which I hadn’t noticed before (aside from having obviously bookmarked it on yelp and then forgotten about it). Especially since just a couple weeks ago I was right next door for the screening of a film I worked on last year...

Cost: $9
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 4      Bun: 3      Toppings: 2

24 East 12th Street
between 5th Ave and University Pl
New York, NY 10003

YumVeggieBurger review #70

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bare Burger Delivery

We ordered from Bare Burger for lunch at work today
(just one of the many perks of having an awesome job)

obligatory iPhone filter

I got the veggie burger (of course) California Avocado style on a brioche bun. It held together quite well in the little cardboard box it arrived in. And tasted just as good as I expected it too. Maybe even better, since work paid for it (haha).

read my original Bare Burger review HERE.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sparrow's veggie burger is still awesome

A week ago, some friends and I went to Sparrow for a delicious brunch. I was tempted by the french toast and several of the egg entrees, but Michelle said she was going to order the veggie burger, and I remembered how amazingly tasty it was - so I had to order it too.

Yup, still as awesome as I remembered it!

And how lucky am I to live just a couple blocks away from a place with such great food (and such great drinks!)

And how strange to see, only a week later, its windows being boarded up for protection just before Hurricane Irene's arrival...

Luckily, the hurricane didn't cause too much damage to my neighborhood - and my friends and I weathered it just fine by throwing a big fun party with games and movies and any snacks the grocery stores hadn't sold out of yet (I have never seen such a pitiful selection of chips left in any grocery store! Either everyone else was using the storm as an excuse for a party too, or people really think that potato chips are a good emergency provision!)

Astoria Park the day after Irene

But, everything is back to normal now. I'm back at work, and as far as I know, all my favorite veggie burger haunts are open for business as usual :)

Read my original review of Sparrow Tavern HERE.