May is National Burger Month. Rather than offering a list of traditional burgers, let's start with some vegetarian/vegan offerings. Vegetarians often get judged. Street cred is docked a little if you speak about eating vegan or profess your participation in “Meatless Monday.”
Vegetarian and vegan cuisine is fantastic. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You can enjoy a veggie burger without adding bacon to it and finding those elusive delicious veggie burgers will be a little easier if you keep reading.
A good veggie burger, ironically, should have “meaty” texture. Much in the way a well done hamburger is dry and difficult to chew, a dry crumbly veggie burger is tantamount to a sawdust patty. None of the veggie burgers mentioned are dry. In fact, all of them will almost certainly make you forget you're not eating meat. That may be an exaggeration, but recognize that these suggestions are definitely worth trying, if for no other reason than to give your poor arteries a rest.
For 35 years, Inn Season Cafe has been a vegan/vegetarian mainstay in Royal Oak. Of course they are going to be prominently featured on this list and with good reason. Their food is consistently wonderful not to mention quite healthy. The Big Baprawski is their signature burger.
Best compared to a Big Mac, the double decker burger consists of two tempeh (a traditional Indonesian fermented and cultured soy product that is sold in cake form) patties, a house whole wheat bun, sauteed onions, lettuce, tomato, cheese and special Thousand Island sauce. If you omit cheese or enjoy Daiya “cheese,” the Baprawski is vegan. Big Baprawski is the “OG” veggie burger, all other veggie burgers in metro Detroit should be grateful it and Inn Season Cafe in general forged a vegetarian path to follow.
Vinsetta Garage's menu is built on a foundation of burgers, pizza, and macaroni & cheese – very appealing to meat eaters. However, their EV1 is a brilliant take on the veggie burger and would please the most staunch of carnivores. The house made vegan patty alone is worth the price.
It's “meaty,” flavorful, and even picks up the char of the grill well, but the toppings on the EV1 are top notch too. Shiitake “bacon,” is as brilliant of a veggie burger topping as I can imagine and the only bacon substitute that I did not immediately reject. The coal fired tomatoes and roasted garlic balsamic mayo are unique vegetarian toppings that you don't see on many veggie burgers. Of course, if you're vegan, you have to skip the mayo and the goat cheese.
Harmonie Garden brings back memories of college for me. While many freshmen are discovering cheap beer, frat parties, and greasy food, I discovered the Flobby Joe. Back in the early 2000s, Wayne State's campus didn't have much to offer from a culinary standpoint, so when I happened upon Harmonie Garden on Palmer, I was overjoyed.
They have since moved to Anthony Wayne Drive and opened a second location on Fort Street, but the food has not changed. The Flobby Joe is a house made falafel patty topped with excellent, hearty veggie chili, tahini sauce, lettuce, and tomato. Definitely a fork and knife burger, the Flobby Joe won't give you flashbacks of freshmen year like it does for me, but it will fill your belly and put a smile on your face.
After you try all of these veggie burgers, you might want to try making your own. Aaron Cozadd, executive chef of the Union Joints (of which Vinsetta Garage is a part), has graciously provided a veggie burger recipe for you to try at home:
Garam Masala Spiced Almond Lentil Burger
1 ½ cup Red Lentils – Cooked
¾ cup Chickpeas – Cooked
3 ea Scallion
½ ea Large Carrot
½ ea Red Bell Pepper
2 ea Cloves Garlic
½ cup Chopped Toasted Almonds
¼ cup Cilantro – Chiffonade
1 Tbl Garam Masala
1 tsp Tamari Soy sauce
2 ea Eggs
½ cup Coconut flour
1. Rough chop garlic, scallion and bell pepper, then pulse in food processor but leave chunky.
Move to bowl.
2. Pulse lentils and chickpeas in food processor, leave chunky for texture. Add to Bowl
3. Grate carrot into bowl then mix in cilantro, almonds, Garam Masala and soy. Fold ingredients
4. Mix in raw eggs and check texture, if mixture is too loose to hold together in patties add coconut
flour as needed to bind.
5. Form mix into 6 patties and dredge with coconut flour.
6. In non-stick pan with olive oil, saute patties over medium-low heat until warmed through, eggs
will firm up as the patties cook and leave the patty with a good bite. The coconut flour will give
the outside a crisp gluten free crust.
7. Serve bun-less or on your choice of bun with desired fixins! A fruit chutney is a great place to start!
Where to go:
Inn Season Cafe: http://theinnseasoncafe.com/
500 E 4th St, Royal Oak, MI 48067 - (248) 547-7916
27799 Woodward Ave, Berkley, MI 48072 - (248) 548-7711
4704 Anthony Wayne Dr, Detroit, MI 48201 - (313) 638-2345