Thursday, December 5, 2013

Joy Burger Bar

I was expecting one of those modern choose-your-own-toppings trendy chain burger joints, but when I walked into Joy Burger Bar I was greeted instead by nice old-fashioned charm! From the old menu board and other signage to the tables and chairs, this place had great character.


You still choose your own toppings here, and their slogan is “the sauces make the difference” because they offer a wide variety of sauces – I went with the spicy mango chutney!


I asked if the burger was vegan, and they couldn’t tell me if the bun was or not (so possibly/likely not), but they showed me the label from the store-bought veggie patties that they use. They are made by a company called Maplecrest. I thought I would be able to google them and find them online, but no luck so far – has anyone else heard of these veggie burgers? Do you know if they are vegan or not?

After you place your order, you get a playing card instead of a number to tell when your order is ready!


The bun was whole wheat – soft and fresh, but not toasted. Just your basic bun. The patty tasted very starchy (potatoes? Rice?) with bits of carrots and peas. It was very soft, and kind of bland.


Luckily, the toppings made up for the lack of flavor – I had chosen lettuce, tomato, jalapenos, and added avocado for $1.25 extra, because why not? Those alone are great toppings, but the spicy mango chutney stole the show. More sweet than spicy, I loved this chutney! I could put it on everything and eat it by the spoonful, seriously. It totally elevated this burger to a more enjoyable level.

Cost: $6.55 – add an extra $1.25 for avocado
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 2       Bun: 3      Toppings: 5

Joy Burger Bar
361 6th Avenue
on the corner of Washington Place
New York, NY 10014
second location in the upper east side as well, check website for address

YumVeggieBurger review #116

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Veggie Burgers in the News

Ha, did anyone else catch this bit of news featuring Anderson Cooper and Bareburger?
Anderson Cooper's Favorite Black Bean Burger from Bareburger

Read my original review of Bareburger here.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Best Thing I Ate This Month That Wasn't A Veggie Burger

...was this Soyatoo vegan whipped cream made from rice milk. Mmmm!


Especially on top of leftover pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving!

Thanks to the guys from the Green Radish Food Truck for serving this delicious whipped cream on top of their vegan hot chocolate, and telling me that they found it at Whole Foods! I braved the pre-Thanksgiving grocery-shopping crowds to pick up a can of it for myself, and it was totally worth it :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Vegetarian Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving - I love cooking, and hosting dinner parties, and I love eating foods that bring back memories from my earliest years of eating Thanksgiving dinner with my grandparents. And when people ask what a vegetarian eats on Thanksgiving, I can't help but laugh, because I eat SO MUCH! I have never felt like I am "missing out" by leaving the turkey out of my Thanksgiving dinner.

This year I'm staying in New York for the holiday, and hosting dinner at my apartment. So I've been spending the afternoon prepping things for tomorrow, cooking anything that can be made a day in advance and heated up again so there is less to do and less fighting over oven and stovetop space tomorrow!

As I do every year, I made my favorite vegetarian entree: Holiday Cashew Nut Roast - from Vegetarian Times
This is the loaf before it goes into the oven - I made a half-recipe because we're having a smaller group of guests this year. And I put a second row of tomatoes on top after I took this photo, but I wanted you to be able to see the yummy eggplant first!

And of course: Vegetarian Gravy - from
Even meat-eaters love this gravy! My family used to make two batches of gravy each year, one vegetarian and one non-vegetarian, but recently we've switched to just making the vegetarian one, because everyone likes it anyway!

Tomorrow I'll make the roast potatoes and root vegetables, peas, rolls, my grandmother's sweet potatoes (topped with vegan marshmallows from Sweet & Sara) and pumpkin pie!

What are you cooking for Thanksgiving this year?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I should note that this pub was a second-choice for a very belated lunch, when our first choice had no empty tables and what looked like a significant wait…


Nonetheless, I like a good pub. They had a veggie burger on the menu, so I was game to give Fiddlesticks a try. The décor inside was quite nice, I liked all the little nooks and crannies and different areas of seating, and they had candles and Christmas lights all around. There was an American football game on the large tv screens, which kind of killed the mood, but sadly that seems standard in many otherwise-enjoyable bars and pubs.


Unfortunately, the service was disappointing. Our waiter was slow and unnattentive; he seemed more interested in the football game than his customers. And it took over 30 minutes for our food to come out of the kitchen - although oddly enough, another couple sitting a few tables away had ordered after us and received their food much faster.

And, to continue the theme, the veggie burger itself was a disappointment.


The bun was nice – soft, with lots of sesame seeds – but that was the best part of the whole burger. The toppings consisted of a very sad piece of lettuce that was mostly stalk, the lone tomato slice was small, there was too much raw red onion, the pickles were the most bland pickles I've ever eaten, and there was no sauce (the little cup of sauce in the previous photo was the curry sauce for my fries, which were overfried to the point that most were rock hard and inedible). The waiter didn’t offer us ketchup or mayo, or ask if we needed anything else.


And the patty itself, well, as you might have expected, it was an average, boring, premade patty. A thin, dry mash of vegetables with little flavor. And no idea if it was vegan or not (probably not). I wasn’t expecting much else from a pub that most likely caters to the meat-eating crowd, but I was kind of offended that they would dare charge $14 for something so mediocre! And the fries (which came with it) weren’t even any good!


Definitely a place I will avoid returning to.

Cost: $14
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 2       Bun: 3      Toppings: 1

56 Greenwich Ave
between Charles & Perry Street
New York, NY 10011

YumVeggieBurger review #115

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Green Radish Food Truck

EDIT: The Green Radish no longer serves the chickpea burger, but I posted an updated review HERE describing how much I enjoyed their black bean burger!

Ever since The Cinnamon Snail reported the arrival of a new vegan food truck in NYC, I’ve been eager to check out The Green Radish (and by the way, isn’t it awesome that there is so much demand for vegan food in NYC that a second vegan food truck is welcomed as a friend instead of as competition?)


Work and travel and life kept me from visiting the truck – until yesterday, when I finally caught up to it parked on 38th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.


I really wanted to try the black bean burger, but sadly I had gotten there at the end of lunchtime and they were sold out of it! Luckily, they offer not one but THREE veggie burgers – so I simply opted for the chickpea burger instead (the third one is a Portobello burger).


I’ve tried a couple chickpea burger patties before, and I have to say, I always found them rather dry and unimpressive. But this burger totally changed my mind! There was so much juicy, tangy flavor in it! The patty was thick and hearty– a mix of mashed up chickpeas and some chickpeas that were still whole. It did fall apart quite a lot as I was eating it – it was a bit more like a chickpea salad sandwich than a traditional burger, to be honest. But as someone who replaced tuna salad with chickpea salad when I converted to vegetarianism, I thoroughly enjoyed it.


The toppings were what really made it exceptional though – the tomatoes and the pickles were great, the onion puree was rich and flavorful, and the “Green Radish Dressing” was tangy and absolutely delicious! These toppings ensured that the burger was drippingly juicy, and not in the least bit dry as I had feared it could be. The wheat bun was dense enough to not get soggy even with all those juicy toppings, but not so thick that it made the burger hard to eat. Grab some napkins, though! And a fork – because you’ll want to eat all the bits that fall out of the bun, because they are just that tasty.

The workers on the truck were very friendly and happy to answer questions about their food. I also tried a cup of their hot chocolate (made with almond milk, and topped with rice milk whipped cream!) which was DELICIOUS. I will definitely return not just to try the black bean burger, but all the other amazing-sounding vegan food on their menu as well!

Cost: $10.00
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 4      Toppings: 5

The Green Radish
Parking in various locations around Manhattan, check their Twitter feed for current location

YumVeggieBurger review #114

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Best Thing I Ate This Month That Wasn't A Veggie Burger

The best thing I ate this month that wasn't a veggie burger was the ultimate comfort food: vegan macaroni and cheese!

My friend Michelle wanted to get macaroni and cheese for her birthday, so we met at the 33rd Street S'Mac location. I hadn't eaten at S'Mac since before I started avoiding dairy, so this was my first time trying their vegan option.


I was sad to see that their iconic macaroni styles are not available in vegan versions (I really wanted a vegan version of the masala Indian spiced macaroni!), but you do get to choose from different options to customize your macaroni - so I ordered mine with buffalo hot sauce, tomatoes, jalapenos, and breadcrumbs.

It was delicious! Sasha said she thought the base for the vegan cheese sauce was coconut milk, but it didn't taste coconutty, so whatever else they add to it hides that flavor well and tastes more cheesy. My craving for warm, cheesy comfort food was satisfied. I got the small portion, which was quite filling. I would definitely go back and order it again - I think it's on par with the vegan macaroni and cheese from Brooklyn Mac (although I wish S'Mac offered tempeh bacon in theirs...)

157 E 33rd St
between Lexington Ave & 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10016
(212) 683-3900
(2nd location in the east village - check website for address)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Siggy's Good Food

This place caught my eye for brunch the other weekend because of this sign out front:

Then I looked at the menu and saw a ton of vegetarian food, which sealed the deal. We didn’t see any aliens eating brunch inside, although there were a lot of little alien decorations and signage… I couldn’t quite figure out why, it wasn’t like it was a theme restaurant. It seemed like the owner just really really likes aliens!


The veggie burger is vegan, including the bread (I asked the waitress). The patty was really yummy, it was a nice rich and hearty vegetable blend (the menu said “garden vegetables and black beans”) with a hint of sweetness as well. Mushy, but not oozing out the sides of the bun. Although I was disappointed that the bun was just slices of toast – when I order a burger, I want a proper bun! The menu said “served on soft brioche bun. Optional – on 7 grain, gluten free bun, wheat flax wrap, or over baby greens” and I picked the 7 grain, assuming that was a bun like the brioche and the gluten-free bread options. But apparently I was wrong! I wish the menu was a bit more clear on that, because no one wants a burger on toast… right?


But, at least I was enjoying the taste of the patty. And the toppings were pretty good – there was too much raw onion for my taste, but I just took it off the burger. The hummus was good, and the tomato and greens were nice and fresh. Because it was the weekend and I was having a good day, I splurged and paid extra for tempeh bacon on top of my burger too.

Totally worth it. I love tempeh bacon.


I was very pleased to see so many options both vegetarian and non-vegetarian on the menu, so this place could definitely be a good brunch location to take friends to - and it wasn't as crowded as many of the other restaurants we walked past! No line!
and Aliens eat free!

Cost: $10 ($2 extra for tempeh bacon)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 2      Toppings: 3

Siggy’s Good Food
292 Elizabeth Street
between Houson St & Bleecker St
New York, NY 10012

YumVeggieBurger review #113

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Barclays Center: Bed Stuy Grill

Who else went to the Nine Inch Nails show at Barclays Center two days ago? I was there, and it was spectacular!


It was my first time at Barclays Center – I generally dislike arena/stadium venues as a rule, but I had GA Standing tickets for this show so I figured it couldn’t be too bad.


We got there early, and it wasn’t very crowded yet, so I went for a walk around the place. There is a whole outer circle food court kind of deal going on, ranging from hotdogs to sushi. As I walked around, I kept thinking “I wonder if they have a veggie burger…”

…and then, believe it or not, I found one!


I had to eat it pretty quickly to get back to the floor before the opening band (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, how awesome!). But I had come to the show straight from work, so I was starving anyway.


I asked the staff if the burger was vegan – the cook herself came out and assured me that the patty was vegan, but they could not be sure about the bun. That’s par for the course, it seems. The bun was whole wheat, but too thick and dense. If you want to be able to take a proper bite out of a burger, the bun needs to be light and soft enough to compress a bit when you sink your teeth into it so you can get both bun and patty in the same bite! I ended up eating my burger in pieces, discarding most of the bun.


The menu said the burger comes with barbecue sauce and cheese – so I asked for mine without the cheese, but I think they mistakenly assumed that meant I did not want barbecue sauce either. So I was sad to miss out on that, but didn’t want to take the time to complain and get the order corrected. I think the sauce would have added a nice balance to the other components of the burger, although the lettuce was quite crisp and the tomato slice exceptionally fresh and juicy!


And the patty itself was great – way better than you would expect a veggie burger from a stadium venue to be! Mostly consisting of rice and black beans, it had a surprisingly spicy kick to it. And it was not too dense or compact like many veggie burgers – I wonder if it was made on site, and not delivered frozen? It seems possible. Or at least, it could have been locally made in Brooklyn! It fell apart a bit as I was eating it, which made for a slightly messy meal (grab a fork!) but it was yummy.

Not a bad start to the evening… and good to know that there are vegetarian options at Barclays Center! And there are probably even more that I didn’t have time to explore – I didn’t even check out the food vendors on the upper levels!


And, like I said, NIN was amazing.

Cost: $8.75 (not bad for a place that sells a bottle of water for $5!)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 2      Toppings: 2

Barclays Center
620 Atlantic Avenue
between Fort Greene Pl & 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217

YumVeggieBurger review #112

Friday, October 4, 2013


My Grandmother Joey, a.k.a. "Gaga", passed away this week. She was an amazing woman, and an important part of my childhood.


She was not a vegetarian, and she did not always understand what "vegetarian" meant when I became one myself (I remember countless times when she would ask me "do you eat chicken?" after I had of course told her before that I do not). But she was supportive of my choices.

We shared a love of Trader Joe's, and she would often tell me about new food items she had found there which were vegetarian. When I lived in St. Louis for my first year of college, she took me out to lunch quite often since she lived in the same city. And she would always tell me "You're a cheap date!" when the vegetarian entrée ended up being the least expensive item on the menu. I also inherited my love of chocolate from her.


She will be missed.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

5 Napkin Burger Happy Hour

I’ve been working such long hours that I usually don’t have time to eat anything for dinner before yoga classes. So it seemed inevitable that one day I would end up at 5 Napkin Burger for a very-late dinner after a hot yoga class, since the Astoria location of this restaurant is only a few blocks from my yoga studio…

And, lucky me, by the time my yoga class is over, their happy hour menu is in effect! $4 for veggie sliders? Yes please!


If you recall, I already reviewed 5 Napkin’s veggie burger – and gave it 5 stars. So I was pretty confident I would enjoy their sliders as well…


Oh, sweet deliciousness! These sliders are just as amazingly tasty as 5 Napkin’s full-sized veggie burger. The patties are moist and flavorful, and in case you’re unfamiliar with the 5 Napkin Veggie burgers, that’s not undercooked meat that’s making them look pink – it’s beets! One of my favorite veggie burger ingredients!


They are topped with plenty of pickles, and that yummy, tangy “5N” sauce. Really the only difference between this and the regular veggie burger, other than the size (obviously) is that the sliders don’t come with tomato and lettuce. Probably because there’s no room left for them! And the bun seemed softer and sweeter, maybe a different type of bread. A $4 order of sliders includes two adorable little baby burgers. I also ordered a happy hour guacamole, and that along with the sliders was filling enough for me. But if you wanted to get really crazy, a hungry person could probably eat 2 orders of the sliders (4 total – about the size of a regular burger).

I’m going to go ahead and say these are 5-star sliders, because the full-sized 5 Napkin veggie burger is a 5-star burger, and these mini versions of that burger are equally awesome!

Cost: $4 for two sliders
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Burger patty: 5       Bun: 4      Toppings: 5

Read my original review of the full-sized 5 Napkin veggie burger here.

Five Napkin Burger
35-01 36th Street
Astoria, NY 11106
locations in Manhattan as well, check website for addresses

YumVeggieBurger review #111

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

SoL Cuisine Sprouted Quinoa Chia Burger


I was picking up some groceries at whole foods recently, and thought I would try a new veggie burger, so I picked this one out of their frozen food section (I like quinoa and sweet potato, so it seemed like a good bet, even though I had never heard of the brand before).

The frozen burger patty, before cooking

After frying for a few minutes with a little bit of olive oil.

I melted a slice of my favorite Daiya swiss “cheese” on top of the patty, and toasted a whole wheat bun.


It smelled really good when I took it out of the frying pan! But the texture of the patty was odd, it wasn’t grainy or bready or even mushy – which are the categories most veggie burger patties seem to fall into. Instead, it was very smooth, almost like it had some kind of gelling agent in it (I’m not familiar with chia seeds, but I did a little research and it turns out that they form a gel when they react with water, so that explains that!). This is a very weird texture for a burger. There were also very large, flat slabs of onion mixed in, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. I didn’t taste any of the sweet potato that the package advertised.

Overall, it was a disappointment – I was expecting more from a product that sounded so good on the box (vegan, gluten-free, healthy, tasty ingredients!). I don’t think there was any way I could have cooked it that would have made the taste or texture better. The melted Daiya on top was the best part, but I don’t think I would buy these patties again when there are so many better ones on the market.

Has anyone else tried these burgers? What are your thoughts?

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
SoL Cuisine
purchased at: Whole Foods in NYC
price: $5.49 for a box of 4

YumVeggieBurger review #110

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Grey Dog


The Grey Dog is my go-to spot near Union Square to meet people for tea, and my sister and I have shared many a cozy drink at its tiny tables (getting a seat can be tricky when it’s crowded though!). But until I met a friend there for dinner last week, I had not tried any of the food. And I hadn’t even realized that they serve a veggie burger!


My first thought was that the burger seemed kind of small, but maybe that was just because it was dwarfed by the massive pile of fries next to it? I substituted sweet potato fries in place of the regular fries – and they were delicious.


The bun was a little dry, and kind of dense. But the toppings were great – really fresh and crispy pea shoots, tomato, and onion. The pesto was quite tasty, (I am a big fan of pesto!). I only wished there was some other sauce as well to balance out the dryness of the bun.

The patty was homemade – a blend of veggies and some hearty grains. It was about average, there was nothing too special about the flavor, but it tasted hearty and healthy. I asked if the burger was vegan, and the café staff showed me this handy little ingredient card that they keep behind the counter:


So the patty itself is vegan, they told me – but the bun is not (contains dairy). They did offer to serve it on a bed of lettuce for any vegans who were interested in ordering it though. And kudos to them for being so well-informed about their ingredients and prepared to answer their customer’s questions! More restaurants should learn from that example.

Note: the veggie burger is found under the “Michigan Sandwiches” section of the menu, not the “Burgers” section!

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

The Grey Dog
90 University Pl
between 12th & 11th Street
New York, NY 10003
two other locations in Manhattan, check website for address

YumVeggieBurger review #109

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Best Thing I Ate This Month That Wasn't A Veggie Burger

If you follow me on twitter, you've already heard this - but I am in LOVE with Daiya's new flavor of vegan cheese: swiss!

I used to eat grilled swiss cheese sandwiches all the time - so when I decided to (mostly) stop eating dairy, that was one of the things I missed the most. I had the occasional grilled cheese sandwich made with vegan "cheddar" cheese, but it wasn't the same. So I was thrilled when I saw vegan SWISS cheese at the store!


Of course it doesn't taste exactly like "real" swiss cheese. And the texture is quite different, as all vegan cheeses are. But still - it makes a delicious vegan grilled cheese sandwich!

I buy Daiya at several little health food stores near my apartment, and I've seen Daiya products at Whole Foods as well.
Look on their website to find out where they might be sold near you.

And no, Daiya is not paying me or giving me free stuff to write this. This is just the best thing I ate this month that wasn't a veggie burger :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Umami Burger

Apparently the recent (just 4 weeks ago) opening of Umami burger in NYC is a big deal – I had personally never heard of the California-based burger chain before, but I did hear people excitedly sharing rumors a few months ago, in anticipation of it’s NYC debut. But then I forgot about it, until my friend Evan worked on a video for Zagat TV about the popular burger place. All the burgers featured in that segment are meat-burgers, unsurprisingly. But Umami has a veggie burger too – and I felt inspired to go try it... assuming, of course, the wait was not 3 hours as I had heard it rumored to be!


I was in luck – I had a couple hours to spare before a meeting, so when I showed up just before 2pm, the wait for a single spot at the bar was only about 10 minutes! Couples arriving at the same time were told the wait for 2 people would be about 30 minutes.


Excited, I sat down at the bar, ready to place my order – from the “Un-Beef” section of the menu! But when I told the waitress I wanted the “earth burger”, she said “we don’t have any left today”. My heart skipped a beat. She must have noticed how devastated I looked at this news, because she then said “Let me double check that though...” and hastened off to the kitchen. When she came back, she said “We have two left!” and I breathed a sigh of relief. I wonder if these veggie burgers are proving more popular than they had anticipated?

The earth burger


The bun was deliciously light and sweet – almost like a pastry. Not soggy at all, and not too thick or dense to bite into, but it still held everything together well. The toppings were delicious – I had never had a burger with chili on it before, but this soyrizo chili was a surprisingly a great addition, and gave it a great spicy kick. The “fresh cilantro crema” didn’t really add much flavor for me, personally. But the guacamole beneath the patty was a nice, cool, creamy note to balance out the spicy chili (and a surprise element, since it wasn’t listed with the other toppings on the menu!) The whole thing was a really awesome flavor combination. Both the sauce and the bun contain dairy, although the waitress told me they offer a lettuce wrap instead of the bun, if you request it (and you could order the burger without the crema topping).


The patty, however, is vegan – an earthy blend of black beans, forbidden rice, and charred corn (although I didn’t really taste much of the corn among the beans and rice). It fell apart a bit, but was large enough that even after pieces fell out, there was still a substantial amount left between the buns. And I ate the fallen chunks with a fork, because they were too tasty to abandon.


Would it have been worth it if I’d actually had to wait in line for three hours? Well, I don’t know about that… I’ve never waited that long for any veggie burger, not even from The Cinnamon Snail on a really busy lunch day! …but it was one of the most delicious veggie burgers I have eaten. Yup, it’s another five-star veggie burger! And I now understand all the hype around Umami Burger...


Cost: $12.00
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 5      Toppings: 5

Umami Burger
432 6th Avenue
between 9th & 10th Street
New York, NY 10011

YumVeggieBurger review #108