For DFW.com’s 2013 Burger Battle, contributor Teresa Gubbins surveyed the area’s veggie burgers and ranked her five favorites: Chop House Arlington, Liberty Burger in Dallas, Spiral Diner, Rodeo Goat and Hillstone/Houston’s.
It’s still a good list, and I like her criteria: no frozen pre-fab patties, obviously, and no portobellos on a bun — they can be nice, but they don’t count here. We want something like the taste and feel of a real burger.
Burgers are so hot right now, even veggie burgers, that four of the area’s best are new since last year. They’re my favorite veggie burgers of the moment.
Two of these are at burger joints, and two are at swankier, chef-driven restaurants that surprised me by even offering veggie burgers. But crucially, any of the four will serve you a cold Rahr or an ambitious cocktail.LSA Burger Co.
I like it the way it comes, on a buttery bun with mayo, spinach, tomato and a slice of pepperjack cheese, but this burger is one of the easiest to make vegan. Just hold the cheese and mayo, and ask for the gluten-free bun instead.
The tangy, creamy coleslaw and garlic-Parmesan fries here are standout sides, but stricter vegetarians might appreciate the steamed broccoli or black beans with brown rice. (A la carte sides are $2.50-$3.50.) 113 W. Hickory St., Denton. 940-383-1022 ; www.lsaburger.com.
• Rodeo Goat, which won last year’s big Burger Battle with various beef-based creations, made Teresa’s veggie list with its original meatless burger, the Neil Young. With an old-school patty made from the 1970s hippie hit list — oats, barley, brown rice and black beans — it’s good, and it’s still on the menu.
But Rodeo Goat has since added a second veggie burger, joining only Spiral Diner in offering more than one type of veggie patty. And the Red-Headed Stranger ($9, no side) is even better than the Neil Young. Its appealingly colorful patty has red and brown quinoa, mushrooms, radishes and barley. It also has a bigger, more rounded flavor (the mushrooms?) and the patty holds up better. This could just be because the patty tends to be a bit small for the bun, though these house-made patties are a bit different each time.
It comes topped with tender, leafy sprouts (not the haylike ’70s kind — ick) and a spinach mayo. This burger is vegan without the mayo. Try mustard or the house-made jalapeño jam instead.
Side-dish news for vegetarians: Rodeo Goat’s potato salad has a new, bacon-free recipe. And the new version of Cowboy Chow (borracho beans spiked with Martin House Daybreak beer) is vegan. (The sides are $2-$3.50.) 2836 Bledsoe St., Fort Worth. 817-877-4628 ; www.rodeogoat.com.Bite City Grill
It has a complex patty of black beans, roasted corn, roasted peppers, brown rice, mushrooms and onions, but the thoughtful toppings really make it: roasted tomato, fresh mozzarella and a chile-spiked aioli. The $12 price may seem hefty, but this comes with truffle fries (carbo-phobes can substitute a salad). And it’s a really balanced, well-thought-out symphony of flavors.
The bun has egg in it, but I wouldn’t do a bunch of substitutions to even try to make this vegan. The fresh cheese and spicy aioli are so good. This is a really satisfying burger platter. 2600 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth. 817-877-3888 ; www.bitecitygrill.com.Pacific Table
Pacific Table is West Coast-style seafood, which means some Asian items — fresh sushi, miso-glazed salmon and so on — and this burger reflects that. The patty is made with sticky sushi rice, shiitake mushrooms, carrots and oats, and finished with a pineapple glaze. It’s cooked over a pecan-wood fire and is notably sweet, with a flavor profile unique to our area as far as I know. Vegans will want to hold the bun, which is made with egg, and the slice of jack cheese that comes on top.
This burger is a popular, word-of-mouth hit with diners that servers also talk up. It started out as a sandwich-of-the-day special and is now a mainstay of the regular menu. I’ve ordered it at lunch, brunch and dinner. You can substitute grilled Brussels sprouts, coleslaw, broccolini or kale salad for the fries if you want to eat this as often as I do. 1600 S. University Drive, No. 601 (near Blue Mesa Grill). 817-887-9995 ; www.pacifictableftworth.com.
Don’t forget: The Texas Veggie Fair is 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday at Dallas’ Reverchon Park, 3505 Maple Ave. Admission is free, but bring cash to try all manner of vegan food and products. There will be a beer garden, chef demos, children’s activities, lots of animal rights and rescue information, and live music. Dogs are welcome, too, of course. www.texasveggiefair.com.
Righteous! Lanny Lancarte II’s Righteous Foods is scheduled to open Oct. 21, at 3405 W. Seventh St. in Fort Worth. It will serve breakfast, lunch and early dinner Monday-Saturday, and is good news for vegetarians and vegans, if the food is as good as everything else we’ve tasted from Lancarte. The menu, which highlights healthy, organic ingredients, includes a section labeled “grains,” with six vegan main dishes based on things like farro, couscous or Himalayan red rice, plus soups, salads and desserts. And alongside “detox” drinks such as house-brewed kombucha, drinking vinegars and green tea, there’s a “retox” section with margaritas, a hibiscus and beet mai tai, and a basil and dill martini.