Friday, February 28, 2014

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

... was a delicious VEGAN margherita pizza!


My dream has come true: Ever since I started avoiding dairy, I have been longing for a place in my neighborhood that serves vegan pizza. And I finally got my wish!

Tufino opened its doors in Astoria sometime last year, but it was only recently that I learned that they offer vegan pizza on their menu - and promptly raced over to try it. YUM! This is one of the best wood-fired pizzas I've ever tasted, and being able to order it with vegan cheese just sends me over the moon with joy. Now Tufnio is my favorite pizza place in the neighborhood, and I've already taken several friends there. My vegetarian friend was excited to order vegan sausage on her dairy-cheese pizza, while my lactose-intolerant carnivore friends were thrilled to have Daiya and meat-sausage on theirs. Everyone is happy!

Tufnio Pizzeria Napoletana
36-08 Ditmars Blvd
between 36th & 37th Street
Astoria, NY 11105

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Burger Bistro in Astoria

Last week, this showed up in my mailbox:


I had not realized it, but Burger Bistro, the create-your-own-burger restaurant I reviewed in Park Slope last year opened a new location in my own neighborhood of Astoria just this past December!

As you may remember from my review, I thought Burger Bistro's veggie burger was just "okay". They do offer a lot of creative topping options though, so if that is your thing, it could be worth checking out.

On my way to a yoga class on Saturday, I walked by just to see the storefront for myself:


It will be interesting to see how Burger Bistro does in Astoria, a neighborhood where it feels like a new burger joint opens up every other month. This one is also just a few blocks away from the original Bare Burger location, so they're up against some serious competition (personally, I'd choose Bare Burger any day!).

Has anyone eaten at this new location yet? What did you think?

read my original review of the Park Slope location of Burger Bistro here.

Burger Bistro
37-03 31st Avenue
between 37th & 38th Street
Astoria, NY 11103
locations in Park Slope, Bay Ridge, and the Upper East Side too, check website for addresses

Monday, February 24, 2014


Although I only spent three days in Providence, Rhode Island last weekend, I managed to try a second veggie burger before I left:


I was really excited about Julians because their menu looked so vegan-friendly! Even though they are not an all-vegan or all-vegetarian restaurant, their menu boasts more than a few items for non-meat-eaters. I wish we had more restaurants like this in NYC – even though we have lots of amazing all-vegan restaurants in our city, we have a shortage of hybrids like Julian’s that can please both vegans and meat eaters (believe it or not, some of us like to go out to dinner with our carnivorous friends once in awhile – and have more options than just a salad or pasta!).

At first we tried to go to Julian’s for brunch on Sunday, but it was so crowded, with a line stretching out the door, that we decided to skip it and come back for dinner the next day (proof that brunch is not just an NYC thing!).

So we came back for a late dinner on Monday night, and got a table immediately. And our table looked pretty awesome, since it was covered in a collection of vintage matchbooks:


I was so eager to order the vegetarian black bean burger that I did not notice that it came with pepper jack cheese on top of it (this was stated clearly on the menu, I was just distracted by my cocktail and did not read carefully enough!). I later learned that they could have substituted soy cheese for the dairy cheese, so I’m really annoyed at myself for not taking advantage of that!

Anyway, definitely make sure you don’t make my mistake, and be sure to ask for the soy cheese if you are vegan or avoiding dairy like me. Because without the pepper jack cheese, this burger (including the bun!) is totally vegan.


Even without the cheese (which I scraped off) the toppings were great: fresh avocado slices, baby spinach, tomato, and a tangy maple dijon glaze. Yum. All of this on top of a homemade black bean patty. The patty could have used a touch more flavor or spice, and a crispy exterior would have been nice as well (the whole thing was pretty soft), but it still tasted good.


And the bun was excellent – a good size to accommodate the patty and toppings, sweet and fresh, with a nice flakey crust.

I really wanted to order a tempeh sausage on the side, just because so many of the Yelp reviews for this place praised them so highly, but I was afraid I would be too full from my burger to eat it. And I was correct. The burger was quite filling! Plus, I had already ordered a side of sweet potato steak fries with it (which were delicious, by the way).


If I’m ever in Providence again, I will definitely come back to try more of their menu. I’d love to try their brunch (so many tofu scrambles and vegan sausages on the menu!) but from the looks of the crowd we saw on the weekend, you’d probably have to camp outside the door before they open to get a table.

Cost: $9.00 (sweet potato steak fries = $4 extra)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 4      Toppings: 4

318 Broadway
Providence, RI 02909

YumVeggieBurger review #123

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Better Burger Company

Last weekend, I rode a bus through a snowstorm to Providence, Rhode Island. When the bus finally arrived, two hours delayed, this was my first view of the snowy, nearly-empty city:


Despite the cold snow blowing into my face, it was kind of beautiful.


I trudged up a snowy hill from the bus stop to the Better Burger Company in search of dinner. Reviewers online had praised their veggie burgers, so I was excited to try one. While many nearby restaurants and coffee shops had closed early due to the snow storm, Better Burger Company was thankfully still open. Although the place was mostly empty, there were a couple of guys watching the Olympics on the large tv screens, as well as a group of four college girls taking “selfies” and dancing in their seats to pop hits on the radio.


Better Burger Company’s menu boasts three veggie burgers: a falafel burger, a veggie burger, and a black bean burger. The black bean burger is listed as “vegan” on the menu, but when I asked the staff if the bun was vegan too, the cook informed me that the bun contained dairy and egg. “Most bread has dairy in it,” he added. No shit, Sherlock – but maybe you shouldn’t call your burger “vegan” if you know the bun it is served on does not qualify! Even the gluten-free buns (available upon request) are not vegan. The cashier told me that a lot of people order the burger without the bun, and they can serve it in a lettuce wrap. I still think this should be noted on the menu, so that people keeping a strict vegan diet are not mislead!


My non-vegan bun was pretty standard whole wheat bread, but larger than average to accommodate the oversized patty (I’m not sure these pictures do it justice, but this thing was huge!). But it was too soft and crumbly – the whole bun fell apart in my hands and my fingers ended up covered in sauce from the middle of the burger.

The patty was a hearty mash of black beans with a bit of spice. It was insanely crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside – it was rather greasy, and I wondered if the whole thing had been deep fried. Definitely homemade, which is nice, but far from healthy – but then again, this is a fast food burger joint afterall.


Topped with lettuce and tomato, the burger also contained a strange yellow sauce or dressing with a bizarre flavor that I couldn’t identify. The menu described it as “spicy BBQ aioli” but it didn’t taste like any barbecue or aioli sauce I had ever had before. I was not a fan.

The burger was too ginormous for me to eat the whole thing, even as hungry as I was – I think I ate enough of it to amount to a normal-sized burger, and had to leave the rest on my plate. I can imagine if I were a college student in Providence, I might spend many a late night here after a lot of drinks. A big, greasy veggie burger probably tastes great then - but sober and having spent over six hours on a greyhound bus, I found it less enjoyable.


Cost: $6.99
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 2      Toppings: 2

Better Burger Company
215-217 Thayer Street
Providence, RI 02906

YumVeggieBurger review #122

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


It’s been too long since I reviewed a raw, gluten-free burger, hasn’t it?


So I took my sister out to lunch at Quintessence the other day. This restaurant is so cozy, tucked into a cute little space in the East Village. I ordered a cashew milk chai latte while I waited for my sister to arrive. It was delicious.


Although everything on the menu sounded amazing, I kept my eyes on the target: The All American Burger with BBQ Sauce.


Quintessence offers a choice of three types of raw bread for their sandwiches and burgers: kamut bread, squash coco-chia bread, or veggie bread. Kamut is a type of wheat, so that one is not gluten-free, but the other two are. My sister ordered her club sandwich on the squash coco-chia bread and I ordered my burger on the veggie bread. They looked very similar, just a slight difference in coloring. My veggie bread tasted fresh and healthy, like a salad. It was thin and soft, but held the burger together surprisingly well. The only negative was that the texture was a bit weird to me – I couldn’t help but think that it reminded me of an old sponge. I imagine it’s an acquired taste, and I have to admit I don’t eat raw food very often.


The toppings were awesome – I don’t think I have had a raw burger before that packed this much of a flavor-punch! Lettuce, tomato, onions, and deliciously tangy pickles (home-made!). And the barbecue sauce – wow, I wasn’t expecting something so yummy, and I was kind of blown away by it.

This burger actually comes with not one but two patties – with all those tasty toppings sandwiched inbetween. They had a nice earthy, spicy flavor – actually a very strong spice, I noticed when I broke off a piece of a patty to try on its own without bun or toppings. They were a bit dry, but that was balanced out by the juicy toppings and the barbecue sauce.


A side salad and corn chips were included with the burger – and Abby Bean, I am excited to inform you that these corn chips were actually good! I normally roll my eyes at corn chips served as a side because they are just so flavorless, but apparently raw corn chips are an exception, because I really enjoyed these! I also dipped them into my miso-tahini salad dressing, so that helped…

At $19, this is quite a splurge for a veggie burger. But if you want to treat yourself to something extra-healthy and tasty, I have to say this is the best raw veggie burger I have tried thus far! My sister reports that she enjoyed her club sandwich as well.

Cost: $19
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 3      Toppings: 5

263 east 10th Street
between Avenue A & 1st Ave
New York, NY 10009

YumVeggieBurger review #121

Friday, February 7, 2014

Veggie Burger Recommendations in Rhode Island?

It looks like I'll be going up to Rhode Island for a weekend or two this month - to the city of Providence, specifically. If anyone has any recommendations for great veggie burgers or other vegetarian/vegan food in that area, let me know!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I was looking forward to trying the veggie burger at Gobo because I had heard great things about the restaurant’s vegan food from a meat-eating friend, which is often a good indicator of quality! From their website, it looked like the veggie burger is only available on the lunch menu – so I made sure to stop by in the afternoon to accomplish my mission.


At a pricey $13, I was certainly hoping my veggie burger would be a good one (at least that price includes yam fries!).

It came topped with sprouts, tomato, hummus – and plenty of avocado! I definitely give extra points for restaurants who don’t skimp on the avocado, so this seemed off to a good start. The bun was surprisingly plain though – whole wheat, and soft and fresh, but it was just like one of those generic burger buns you buy in packs of 8 in the bread aisle at the grocery store. Nothing special at all. And the bottom half got a bit soggy underneath the patty and toppings.


When I took my first bite, I tasted an earthy mix of grains and vegetables – notably carrots, and I think mushrooms as well (although they were finely chopped and mixed in so well they didn’t bother a mushroom-hater like me). I also noticed a few sunflower seeds throughout the patty, which I enjoyed. It held together well, but was a mostly even-consistency – no crispy exterior or anything. The flavor was definitely “healthy” but I was expecting something bolder, maybe a hint of spice – Gobo’s slogan is “food for the five senses” so you can’t blame me for expecting something a little more exciting to my taste buds!


The yam fries and ketchup were really yummy though! Although perhaps my expectations for this burger were too high, it was still a pretty good lunch overall. I would like to come back and try some other items on the menu, since there were a lot of other dishes that sounded like they might be more flavorful than the burger.


Cost: $13.00
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3      Bun: 2      Toppings: 4

401 6th Avenue
between 8th St & Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10014
second location in the Upper East Side as well, check website for address

YumVeggieBurger review #120

Monday, February 3, 2014

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

...a couple days belated, but the best thing I ate in January that wasn't a veggie burger was this delicious cinnamon sugar vegan donut:


From Vegan Divas, the vegan bakery in the Upper East Side. They had a bunch of other delicious looking desserts in their shop, but this one stood out to me the most - and it was a good choice! Moist and sugary and delicious!


Vegan Divas
1437 1st Ave
between 75th St & 74th St
New York, NY 10021