Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Meatball Shop

On new year’s eve, my friends and I started our big night of festivities in Manhattan and then hopped on the L train to go over to Brooklyn shortly before midnight. Then we decided we wanted one last snack in 2011 before the new year – and ended up at what I consider one of the finest choices in bar-hopping food: The Meatball Shop.


Which would probably sound weird coming from a vegetarian anywhere but NYC, because here you know the odds are they have a veggie version of even the most classic meat dish. Funny thing is, I never ate meatballs before I became a vegetarian. Now I always keep two bags of Trader Joe’s veggie meatballs in my freezer, but I digress…

Because this raises, once again, the question of “Is a meatball slider a burger or not?” which I asked just before the holidays in my review of Mighty Balls at the Union Square Holiday Market.

And I’m still saying “yes”, meatball sliders count as a burger. Mostly because they are just so delicious that I want extra reasons to justify eating them whenever I encounter them.


And The Meatball Shop’s sliders are delicious. I’ve eaten them a few times previously, but I was without a camera at the time and didn’t want to do a full review without decent photos to really do these yummy morsels justice.

I’m also a big fan of the menu system at the Meatball Shop – you mark your order on a laminated menu with a dry-erase pen, checking off the type of meatballs, sauce, etc. that you want. This greatly appeals to the OCD list-maker in me as well as the “please oh please make sure you don’t get my order wrong and give me something that I won’t realize is actual meat until I bite into it by mistake!” fear that I still get when eating in restaurants.


I ordered two sliders because I had actually eaten a first dinner earlier in the evening, so I was just hungry enough to sample two for variety for this review, but not hungry enough for three which would probably be a better number for a full meal.


Mmmm… what a great taste to end the year with! I had one slider with traditional tomato sauce and another with pesto. Because I frakking love pesto. The tomato sauce is delicious too, don’t get me wrong, but really nothing holds a candle to pesto in my book!

And the veggie meatballs themselves were amazing as well. These ones really hold their “ball” shape and don’t flatten out like burgers (but they still count, right?), they’re perfectly crispy on the outside and dense and chewy on the inside. A nicely-spiced and herbed mix of beans and veggies, which particular beans and veggies I honestly could not tell you though – although I was told the balls are not vegan, because they contain eggs and cheese. There’s actually a recipe for them online here, if anyone is interested: Also, highly important when dealing with meatballs/burgers of slider size: the buns were light and puffy and perfectly-sized for their contents!

And look how warm and cozy this place is!

It was kind of quiet when we stopped here around 11pm on new year’s eve, but most times I’ve come it’s been packed full of drunk people, as I’m sure it became as the night wore on. I’ve seen people waiting in a line outside the Lower East Side location at 3 in the morning before (tip: if you’re only a group of 2, you should be able to bypass that line easily though!). We enjoyed our food and went on to ring in the new year with happily full bellies, fueled for the rest of the night’s festivities…

Happy 2012!

Cost: $3 per slider, you’d probably want to order 3 for a full meal.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4      Bun: 4      Toppings: 5

The Meatball Shop
170 Bedford Ave
between North 8th St and North 7th St
Brooklyn, NY 11211

2 other locations in Manhattan – see website for addresses

YumVeggieBurger review #79

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

La Cocina del Sol

Happy New Year!

I'm back from the holidays, very excited for the fresh start of a new year, but my first veggie burger post of 2012 is going to be a nostalgic one: one of the earliest veggie burgers I ever ate at a restaurant, back in Virginia where I grew up.


Going out to dinner at a restaurant was a rare and special treat with my family, growing up. Living in NYC now, I’ve become accustomed to a lifestyle where it is much more common, for better or for worse (we have so many restaurants to choose from in this city! It’s impossible to resist, although my bank account would probably be better off for it if I did). But even as infrequently as our family would go out to eat, I remember going to La Cocina Del Sol quite a few times. They first opened the summer before I left for college, but it became one of our favorite places to go out to dinner whenever I was home for holidays or a summer break.

I liked this place especially because they served one of the better veggie burgers that I remember eating as a teenager. I hadn’t eaten there in over two years, so when I visited my parents this year for Christmas, I wanted to go back and see if it was as good as I remembered.


The menu calls their veggie burger the “Santa Fe Vegetarian Burger” (the restaurant serves primarily Mexican/southwestern food) and says the patty is made with roasted corn, Anaheim pepper & artichokes. In retrospect, I’m amazed I liked this burger so much as a teenager as I have never cared for artichokes! Everything is mashed together in the patty though, so I didn’t really notice them. It’s definitely a pre-made patty, but it’s a pretty good one. Must have some soy in it for texture too, as it’s more chicken-like than beef like and holds its shape well. The restaurant told me it’s a vegan patty – no eggs binding it together, even though the default toppings aren’t vegan and they weren’t sure about the bun.


The bun was one of the best things I remembered about this burger – a rosemary thyme roll, which proved to taste just as good years later as it did when I first enjoyed it. A nice, sweet and herby complement to the southwestern flavors of the rest of the burger. Yes, it doesn’t seem like that would work as well as it does, but it really tastes great!


The toppings include cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and chipotle mayo. I asked for mine without cheese, something I would have never done a couple years ago (I remember it being very good with the cheese) but I am still a sucker for chipotle mayo. It comes with fries or corn on the cob - I opted for the fries.

With a tall glass of horchata, of course.

So, was it as good as I remembered? Pretty much! I have to admit, I’ve tried a LOT of different veggie burgers in the intervening years, so my palate is a bit more refined, if you can say that about something like veggie burgers, haha. But it did taste like I remembered – and I enjoyed it. And it gets extra points for that nostalgia factor. It’s nice to know that it hasn’t changed, because maybe some teenage newly-vegetarian kid in rural Virginia is enjoying it now too, and learning that vegetarian food can truly be delicious.

Cost: $7.50
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 3      Bun: 5      Toppings: 4

La Cocina del Sol
1200 Crozet Ave
Crozet, VA 22932
second location in Charlottesville – see website for address

YumVeggieBurger review #78