By Melanie Graysmith
Burgers are the quintessential hand-held meal in a bun with a popularity that cannot be counted. The all beef burger no longer commands its singular role of the past, as other non-beef fillers have slipped into the classic bun with tastes to satisfy every burger lover, including vegetarians and anyone else who wants to skip the beef now and again. Read on for five top San Francisco spots where non-beef burgers help bring in the crowds.READ MORE: The Feud and Goldbergs the family fun zone
2184 Union St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
First on the scene in Los Angeles in 2009, Umami Burger expanded rapidly in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York and is now tightly positioned with 24 locations nationwide, and became international with its Japan location, making Umami Burger the go-to spot for some of the best burgers on the planet. Umani’s distinctive burger flavors go beyond gourmet for burger lovers. Beyond those, Umami’s non-beef Falafel Burger ($13) is a smart take for vegetarians, with a falafel patty, beet infused couscous, crushed avocado, romaine lettuce, tomato, tzatziki, and pickled red onion. Visit the website to learn all about Umami “deliciousness.”
1466 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
More than a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, VeganBurg, founded in October 2010, is a new mind set spot that promotes a crispy plant protein patty as the result of its founders desire for a “global plant-based revolution while inspiring a worldwide change.” While that lofty ideal kicks in across the globe, VeganBurg welcomes the “future of food” with its vegan, 100% plant-based, cholesterol-free menu. Committed to proving that fast food doesn’t mean junk food, VeganBurg shows how what you already love can and does happen here with burgers that are not just delicious on their own, but also move up a few notches as Haight ‘N’ Salsa ($9.90), Avocado Beetroot ($9.90), Creamy Shooms ($8.90), and Hawaiian Teriyaki ($9.90) are a few burgers offered, plus there’s more with Sidekicks like Seaweed Fries with varied toppings ($2.90 – $7.90), Sizzlin’ Broccoli ($2.90), a salad and more. Visit the website to see it all.
1785 Union St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
Roam lives up to its artisan hype with a full range of humanely raised beef, turkey, and bison, and the best add ons, like nitrate and nitrite free smoked bacon. In addition to Roam’s commitment to serving the best artisan burgers around, the restaurant also offers its house made, organic, gluten free, and vegan veggie burger containing quinoa, brown rice, black beans, beets, dates, gluten free tamari, herbs and spices, and is nut free. These burgers are pretty tasty even if you’re a carnivore. All burgers go for $8.99 – $10.99, depending on style, including bun choice. Add a topping like sweet chili sauce or jalapeño relish, or caramelized onions, cremini mushrooms, a variety of cheeses, or one-up to avocado, organic egg or truffle parmesan fries (free – $1.99) and bite in and enjoy.
68 West Portal Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94127
Conveniently located in San Francisco’s cozy West Portal neighborhood, across from the Empire Theater, Calibur boasts organic, juicy artisanal burgers from the Cream Co Organic Meat Company, but that’s not all Calibur has to shout out about. The Calibur’s housemade Veggie Burger ($8.99) is packed with flavor and loosely based on its fresh chili, so there’s a unique kick to it. Mushrooms, onions, red and Serrano peppers, garbanzo and kidney beans, brown rice, oatmeal, gluten free breadcrumbs, and the right blend of spices like cumin, marjoram, thyme, with some salt and pepper define the flavorful non-meat burger that Calibur’s Sean Patrick says brings in a ”hardcore following of people who come in at least once a week for it.” Calibur Veggie Burgers are served with house-made sauce, lettuce, tomato, and caramelized onions, unless requested otherwise. Calibur tallow fries ($4.50), cooked in organic beef tallow & non-GMO rice bran oil, can be prepared “veggie style,” no beef tallow, or request a free lettuce wrap or gluten-free bun (+$2). Bonus: visit the website for available delivery options.
Mission Bowling Club
3176 17th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863- BOWL (2695)
Wait a minute! A bowling alley has one of the best veggie burgers around town? What’s happened to tradition? Well, here is a boutique bowling spot that “departs from tradition by serving award-winning food…” along with a whole lot more, like specialty cocktails, craft beers and a super wine list. Oh yes, there are also six regulation bowling lanes with automatic scoring along with leather sofas for your relaxation pleasure. And the food is the elevated comfort food kind, worthy of the City’s culinary hype, but not at all pretentious. Now to get on to the non-beef burger star of MBC is the Vegan Burger ($14), definitely a “destination burger,” as SF Weekly justly put it. Executive chef Anthony Myint and sous chef Frank Mitchell have created one burger extraordinaire panisse patty made with chickpea flour, fennel, sambal, and topped with guacamole, cilantro salsa verde, and spicy red-peppery sauce, and is served with a side salad.
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