When I became a vegetarian in 1980, the only restaurant where I could find a veggie burger was T.G.I.Friday. Sadly, T.G.I.Friday stopped carrying veggie burgers on their menu about a year ago.
Fortunately, it is now possible to find veggie burgers at several chain restaurants, national and local (to D.C.): Ruby Tuesday’s is quite good, Houston’s is exceptional, the Hard Times Café’s is very good, and so is Chee’ Burger-Chee’ Burger’s. On the other hand, 5 Guys, Bennigan’s and Applebee’s have no veggie burgers or sandwiches. Note to restaurants: salad on bread does not a veggie sandwich make!
Still, only one national fast food chain has stepped up to the plate in all these years and put a veggie burger on their menu nationally: Burger King with their BK-Veggie, and yes it is a good veggie burger. I’m told McDonalds test-marketed a veggie burger in California and Canada only but it never caught on and it has been discontinued, at least in California.
Actually there is one more national chain with a veggie patty: Subway, although I hesitate to call it fast food. It’s actually quite good, which begs the question: why hasn’t chief competitor Quiznos followed suit? Their veggie sub is just handsful of mushrooms and black-olives, lettuce, onions and tomatoes (with or without cheese) with guacamole slathered on. A salad sub. Blechh!
The best idea I have found is the one encountered at the Sidewalk Café in Venice Beach, California. They have a menu with a variety of sandwiches and burgers named after noted writers. Best of all, each burger is made with the customer’s choice of a beef, turkey, or veggie patty! Why doesn’t every restaurant do this? It should be a no-brainer (for reaching the greatest variety of customers).
This way, the vegetarian doesn’t have to search for some tiny vegetarian ghetto on the menu. They can eat burgers with all the fixings just like everybody else. Only with a veggie patty instead of meat. Genius!
The other thing that blew this veggie away at the Sidewalk cafe was being able to get veggie sausage on my pizza. My spinach pizza with veggie sausage was off the hook! No wonder I love LA!
Sidewalk Cafe, Venice Beach, CA, June 2007
Photo (c) 2007 by the Incorrigible Curmudgeon