In a city that prides itself on fresh veggies, the oldest continually-operating farmer's market in the nation, and creative vegetarian cuisine, the thought of narrowing a staple like the veggie burger down to the top five is, frankly, frightening. This fear confirmed by the more than 30 suggestions that resulted from a quick, informal Facebook poll of people's favorite veggie burgers.
The fear stemmed from two more things. One, I have only one stomach, and this stomach can take a lot of things, but not 30 veggie burgers. Two, the variety of veggie burgers is overwhelming, from handmade nut patties to mass-produced, frozen soy amalgamations. So to narrow down the field, I chose to stay true to Seattle's veggie roots, sticking with only house made veggie burgers. No frozen patties in this fatty!
5. Hudson Public House, 8014 15th Ave NE, 524-5070.
The healthiest burger in the history of history.
If you are looking for a veggie "burger," Hudson's burger is not going to satisfy you. But if you're looking for a massive dose of veggies in the form of a burger, you will be pleasantly surprised. The patty is made of chopped red beets and kale fried to a very light crisp and topped with chevre, undressed microgreens and sage aioli on big Essential Bakery whole wheat bun. Basically, it's beet salad on a bun. If you have $11 and are looking for a truly healthy "burger" option, this creative--if nontraditional--option could just make your day.4. Zippy's Giant Burgers, 1513 SW Holden. 763-1347.
Growing up in Puyallup, the biggest treat we kids could ask for was a visit to the local drive-in, a small shack off Canyon Road called Pat's Drive-in. Pat's made that burger of your childhood dreams: slightly charred, real beef, American cheese, thousand island dressing, shredded iceburg lettuce, and pickles. Well, Zippy's is basically that burger, just with beans instead of beef. Zippy's black bean burger is a family recipe, made from scratch, as is the "secret sauce" which the owners promise has "a similar appearance to Thousand Island dressing, but is quite far from it." The $4.75 burger is crisp-fried and served with all the classic drive-in burger goodies that take a girl right back to her childhood on the farm--before her dad killed all the cows and she stopped eating meat.
3. Georgetown Liquor Co., 5501 Airport Way S., 763-6764.
Hands-down, Georgetown Liquor Co. serves some of the best lowbrow vegetarian fare in Seattle. And by lowbrow, I mean the food may be served in a bar but is in no way cheap or easy. GLC's Enterprise is a grown and sexy burger that would give Captain Kirk a run for his money. It features a substantial house-made vegan burger patty (from what I was told, it's made of stardust and tribbles--which, incidentally, are reportedly legumes), perfectly seasoned and firm, with Dijon-mayo spread, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and cheese, on a perky toasted onion bun. The accompanying salad is fresh, crisp and a meal in itself. The $10 Enterprise has the potential to take you somewhere no man has gone before.
2. Hillside Quickie, 4106 Brooklyn Ave., 632-3037.
Hillside Quickie has long been a staple for Seattle vegans, a place where you know you'll always get a hugely satisfying sandwich. So satisfying, in fact, that you can even get them pre-packed at local co-ops. Hillside Quickie's Really Big Burger is made of deliciously seasoned house-smoked tofu and comes on a small patella bun. It feaures the exact ratio burger to bun should always be: less bun, more burger. The Really Big Burger is served with grilled sweet onions, vegan mayo, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard and lettuce--but what takes it to a new level is the vegan potato salad smeared on the bottom bun. You won't need to eat anything else the day you eat this.
1. Chaco Canyon Organic Café, 4757 12th Ave N.E., 522-6966.
Literally oozing goodness.
Known and loved for its creative and tasty raw dishes, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a burger at a place that also serves raw pizzas. And by raw, I don't mean not cooked, I mean "herbed macadamia nut cheese and dehydrated buckwheat crust" raw. And what I got was simply lovely. A tower of a burger, literally oozing with a tangy "special sauce." The $8.95 house-made french lentil burger was moist, chewy, well-seasoned and had a great consistency. Served on a fragrant wheat bun from Essential Baking Co., and dressed with marinated onions, tomatoes, sprouts and bread-n-butter pickles, it left me satisfied, yet wanting just a little bit more. Perhaps I should have made it a meal with soup, side salad, or quinoa tabbouleh for $11.95. And maybe an organic sake cherry bomb to top it off.