Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bliss Grand


I was recently in Williamsburg early on a Sunday morning, and thought I’d take the opportunity to try out a new veggie burger. Bliss Grand was nearby, I had never been there before, and their vegan “Two Fisted Lentil Beet Burger” sounded pretty darn appetizing!


The bun was soft, slightly sweet wheat bread. The toppings included a tangy “special sauce” that oozed and dripped out of the burger when I picked it up (not just “two handed”, but many-napkins-required!), as well as lettuce, tomatoes, pickle slices, and red onions.


The patty itself had a nice earthy spice to it - but it was too mushy, I thought it would have been more enjoyable with a crisp outside or some more texture inside. The overall consistency was as smooth as mashed potatoes (although it did hold together quite well, and did not drip out of the bun the way the sauce did!). It was also a bit dry, but at least the plentiful amount of sauce helped compensate for that.

ha, it becomes one-fisted after you eat half of it!

It came with fries, but I was too full to eat more than a couple of them after that burger! The rest of the brunch menu looked amazing, so I definitely want to come back sometime to try some of the other offerings (all vegan).

Cost: $11.95
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 4      Toppings: 4

Bliss Grand
167 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

YumVeggieBurger review #97

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Big Nick's Burger & Pizza Joint

UPDATE: the Big Nick's location I visited is now closed.
Yelp says a second location is still open.

Original review archived below:


Last month, a few friends and I went to see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds perform at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan. We met early to grab a bite to eat before the show, and Adam suggested Big Nick’s Burger & Pizza Joint because he used to eat there often when he lived on the upper west side.

I ordered the “hot vegan Cajun burger” – despite our waiter’s not-so-funny attempt at a joke: “isn’t that an oxymoron? A hot vegan?” (lame, dude, really lame!).


Despite being labeled as “vegan”, I am not tagging it as such on my blog. Maybe Big Nick’s just doesn’t understand that the yogurt in tzatziki sauce isn’t vegan – but if I were a vegan, I wouldn’t feel confident in trusting that the rest of the burger was vegan even if you ate it without the sauce.


That said, the patty itself was actually okay. I was impressed that it was made in-house – I’d been expecting the standard awful frozen patty that most diner-type places have! It was a mix of vegetables and grains, held together fairly well, and was slightly spicy - but I think the “Cajun” description was a misnomer. I've had better tzatziki sauce before, but I'm spoiled by living in Astoria. The lettuce, tomato, and onion were okay, and the toasted whole wheat bun was boring but pretty standard as far as buns go. I thought it was rather overpriced, unfortunately. I don’t mind eating mediocre diner burgers out of necessity now and then, but I hate when I pay more for a disappointing burger than I would pay for one of my 5-star favorites! Then again, I guess I should have expected it to be overpriced since we were in the upper west side!


At least I wasn’t hungry during the concert – which was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It was my first time at the Beacon Theater, and that place is simply gorgeous! Nick Cave was just as wild and energetic as he was the last time I saw him (if you haven’t seen him performing live, you really should!), and it was an awesome night.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Cost: $12.95
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 2       Toppings: 2

Big Nick’s Burger & Pizza Joint
2175 Broadway
between 77th & 76th Street
New York, NY 10024

YumVeggieBurger review #96

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hanalei Taro & Juice Co.

This is my 6th and final veggie burger review from my recent vacation in Hawaii (yup, that’s right, I ate 6 veggie burgers – 2 on each island that I visited!).

On the island of Kauai, I spent several days hiking the Kalalau trail and camping on Kalalau Beach, a.k.a. my favorite place on earth:



Eventually though, I had to leave paradise and return to the real world. As I hiked back out of the valley, I was looking forward to eating a veggie burger once I got back to the town of Hanalei. @janakj had given me a recommendation via twitter: The Hanalei Juice & Taro Co.

(oh yeah, I’m on twitter @yumveggieburger if you want to follow me and give me recommendations too!)


When I first stepped up to the truck window, the girl working there apologized and said they had run out of food after a big tour group came through, and all they had left were smoothies. I felt my heart sink – until she added “the only food we have left is the veggie burger.” And this is yet another reason why Kauai has always been a magical place to me – how lucky was that??? “Perfect!” I told her, “That’s exactly what I wanted to order!”

hanalei_taro_photo_02 The Hanalei Taro Veggie Burger: a vegan patty made from taro root and leaves, black beans, brown rice, quinoa, flax seed, rice flour, acai, and a special blend of herbs and spices.


Now, I realize it’s a little hard to objectively judge a veggie burger when it is your first “real” food after backpacking for several days and eating mostly dried fruit and nuts and granola bars (with the exception of the amazing campfire pizza party I was invited to on my last night in the valley!)

But even if I hadn't been hiking all morning looking forward to this burger, I would have definitely still said it was delicious! The patty was richly textured and well-flavored. The bun was soft and fresh (and vegan – they checked the ingredients list for me, so nice!). The taro hummus was excellent, a little lighter than regular chickpea hummus but still flavorful, and a nice addition to the burger. And the cucumbers and lettuce added the perfect green crunch to the whole thing.


I had a taro smoothie as well, which was equally tasty. I’d definitely recommend this truck (or “lunch wagon” as yelp calls it) to anyone visiting Hanalei – although it sounds like it’s already a pretty popular destination for lunch without my help! But maybe some more vegetarians and vegans should check it out so this tasty veggie burger gets its rightful share of the popularity too :)

Cost: $5.50
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 4      Toppings: 4

Hanalei Taro & Juice Co.
5-5070 Kuhio Hwy B
in front of Kayak Kauai
Hanalei, HI 96714


YumVeggieBurger review #95

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bubba Burgers

The third island I visited on my Hawaii trip was Kauai:
A rainbow before my flight even landed! No wonder this is my favorite island!

My plan was to hike the Kalalau trail – because I had fallen in love with that trail (and the beach and the valley at the end of the trail) five years ago, and have been dreaming of returning ever since. So I stopped in Hanalei for some supplies, and a meal, the day before I began the hike. Bubba Burgers seemed like a pretty popular spot, so I investigated their menu to see what vegetarian options they might serve. Sure enough, they had a taro burger!


The taro patty was vegan, but the bun was not. And it was served with toppings of lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo - although on their regular meat burgers the menu encourages diners to forgo the lettuce and tomato and try it “Bubba’s way”. I guess they assume vegetarians cannot go without their veggies!


It was pretty good, for being possibly the only real burger joint in town. The bun was nothing special, but the taro patty was tasty and fried well (although on equipment shared with meat-burgers, I should warn people who mind that sort of thing). And with the crispy lettuce and tangy mayo, it was not bad for the last “real” meal before I would spend the next several days backpacking and only eating trail food!


Hanalei is pretty touristy for a small town, so there are a lot of dining options, but Bubba’s was the only burger-centric spot that I noticed. The walls inside the restaurant are covered in photos of celebrities who have eaten there – like Bill Clinton and Matt Damon. When I met back up with Joe on Oahu, he told me about a South Park episode that takes place on Kauai where, guess what! The Bubba Burger restaurant appears in cartoon form! (you can watch it here) I always think it's pretty cool when such a well-known burger place includes a vegetarian option that is actually pretty good and not just an afterthought.

As I was leaving, and taking my obligatory photo of the outside of the restaurant, a man who was eating at a nearby picnic table with his family said “wait, you have to have a photo with you in it too!” so he took this photo of me in front of Bubba’s:
I look pretty sunburned and sweaty, which I certainly was at that point.

After I took my camera back, and thanked him, I heard his little daughter ask “why did you take her picture?” and the dad replied “She’s backpacking, so she doesn’t have anyone to take her picture”. I was so touched by that! Sometimes solo backpacking is lonely or frustrating, but then sometimes you have the most heartwarming moments with strangers you meet, like that!

Cost: $7.75 (includes fries)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 2      Toppings: 3

Bubba Burger
5-5161 Kuhio Hwy
Hanalei, HI 96714

YumVeggieBurger review #94

The next morning I woke up, ate an apple and a lara bar, and started my hike…
The Na Pali Coast

approaching Kalalau Beach - 11 miles later!