Last weekend, I took my boyfriend out to dinner.
Me: Want to go to Hooters?
Boyfriend: Wait, seriously???
Why? Because I had heard that they have a secret veggie burger that is not listed on the menu!
For those not familiar with the American restaurant chain, allow me to refer you to the Wikipedia article which explains ”The Hooters name is a double entendre referring to both its owl logo, a bird known for its "hooting" calls, as well as an American slang term for female breasts.”
And believe it or not, there is a Hooters location in Manhattan. It’s kind of hidden off to the side behind this parking garage, but it’s there.
I have actually been to a Hooters before. A couple years ago I was working on a film shoot in Massachusetts, and when we arrived at our hotel late at night, Hooters was the only restaurant nearby that was still open. I didn’t know about the secret veggie burger back then, so all I could eat were fried pickles and some fries. Despite what the chain is -ahem- known for, I was surprised to see that the restaurant was mostly full of families with young children.
The Manhattan crowd was a bit older. There were less children and more grown men, some in groups, and some sitting by themselves… I mean, I’m sure they just wanted to come enjoy the famous chicken wings in solitude, you know? There were a few families with children, other couples on dates, two girls celebrating a birthday together, and foreign-speaking tourists who seemed like they had made Hooters one of the sight-seeing stops on their American tour.
I spent several minutes looking over the menu, but could not find any mention of the veggie burger option. It is listed on the Hooters website: ”Veggie burger patties available.” but if it is actually printed anywhere on the menus they hand you in the restaurant, I would love to have someone point it out to me, because I could not find it!
So when our waitress arrived to take our order, I asked “Is it true that you offer a veggie burger that’s not listed on the menu?” she confirmed that the mythical Hooters veggie burger does indeed exist, and I happily ordered it. To be honest, I had actually called ahead just to make sure it was real. And on the phone, I asked the restaurant if it was vegan or not. They were not sure, but thought that it might have some cheese in the patty – so vegans, try at your own risk!
Ta-da! It’s real! The oblong patty looked very similar to the Don Lee Farms veggie patties which I’ve bought at Costco in the past. It was a bit thin, but a nice mix of rice and grains, with a pleasant hint of pepper and spice.
I requested lettuce, tomato, and mayo for my toppings. What can I say? They were average. The waitress gave me a little packet of mayonnaise to squeeze out onto the burger. I wish they would just put the veggie burger on the menu with a list of options for toppings! It also came with a pickle and a choice of several sides – I chose potato salad, I think coleslaw was another option. The bun was also average, a bit too dense and dry.
I look way more excited than I had any reason to be about this burger!
Overall, a disappointing veggie burger compared to some of the amazing ones I have been fortunate enough to enjoy – but realistically, pretty much what I expected from Hooters. At least now I know that the secret veggie burger really does exist! And my boyfriend and I had an amusing dinner experience quite different from the usual restaurants we go to!
I wouldn’t willingly seek out this veggie burger again (especially after we got the bill and saw what they charged for it!), but if I am ever stuck in the middle of nowhere with Hooters as my only dining option, at least now I will know I can order something more substantial than sides. Although if you are thinking of trying the veggie burger at a different Hooters location, I would recommend that you call ahead to make sure that it is something the other branches of the franchise also carry.
Oh, and these are the weird wet-wipes they gave us after our meal. I don’t mean to sound elitist, but… given the reputation Hooters has crafted for itself, and the demographic they are marketing to, do they really think their average customer gets the “joke” printed on these?
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3 Bun: 2 Toppings: 2
211 West 56th Street
between 7th Ave & Broadway
New York, NY 10019
chain restaurant with locations throughout the U.S., check website for addresses
YumVeggieBurger review #118