So many veggie burgers available today are built with industrial meat substitutes that it’s hard to tell them all apart. The most delicious are still made with actual vegetables, and this is what makes them shine, giving them character, eccentricities and deep flavor. When a veggie burger is good, it’s a marvel of texture, often deepened with the umami of mushrooms, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, miso or kombu. Here are a few favorites in and around Los Angeles right now.
There are two patty options at this excellent vegan burger spot — an umami-rich vegetable patty made from barley and nuts, crisp with panko, and a more fast-food-like one made from TVP (textured vegetable protein), for those with nut and soy allergies or simply a taste for (housemade) imitation meat.
110 North Avenue 56, Los Angeles, burgerlords.com
Both of the veggie burgers on the menu at this vegan cafe in Long Beach are delicious, made with a thick, wonderfully textured vegetable patty made from beets, tofu and mushrooms. The Beets Me burger focuses on the patty, while the barbecue burger comes more generously sauced, with a tangle of battered and fried pickled onions.
975 East Fourth Street, Long Beach, Calif.; 562-317-5545, seabirdskitchen.com
Babette Davis runs an old-school vegan restaurant in Inglewood with a nostalgic, hippie-leaning veggie burger. The patty is part housemade nut loaf, part wild rice, generously seasoned and stuffed into a sprouted bun with griddled red onion and mushrooms.
114 North Market Street, Inglewood, Calif.; 310-671-0115; stuffieat.com
This colorful bicycle shop and bar on the Los Angeles River in Frogtown isn’t vegan, but the housemade veggie burger is a charmer all the same. Smoky, substantial, tinted with beets, it comes on a toasted bun with a little slab of tempeh bacon and a side of waffle fries.
3050 North Coolidge Avenue, Los Angeles; 323-684-1130; spokebicyclecafe.com