Bears. Beet burgers. Battlestar Galactica. Some people are into Meatless Mondays or Tofu Thursdays while others could dig into veggie burgers daily. When you’re on the go (or are just very important … as in too big-time to roll up your sleeves and prepare a meal), there’s no place to craft a ‘happy cow’ burger made from scratch using beans and spices. (And don’t even think about eating some gross, tasteless, processed frozen veggie patty). Amazingly, more and more restaurants in Oakville and Burlington are adding a fresh vegetarian (or vegan/vegan-friendly) burger to their menus to accommodate those looking to cut down on their meat consumption or the ones who’ve banished animal carcasses altogether. Here are the top 5 veggie burgers in Oakville and Burlington.
Too many Oakville and Burlington peeps at my gym rave about Tin Cup Sports Grill (there are locations in both places), so we finally folded and tried the veggie burger. It’s made in-house and has nuts, we’re told. Beets aren’t listed on the menu but the colour gives it away. It’s got pepperjack, avocado, nacho crisps, and vegan chipotle mayo and hits the spot on a few levels. This North Service Rd. bar is a legit spot families looking for a post-soccer practice meal and for late-night eats, regardless of whether you’re there to watch the big game. If you haven’t been, you must go check it out.
What to order: California Burger ($15.50)
The good folks at Boon Burger prove you don’t necessarily need meat to create a phenomenally satisfying meal. Their Bombay Heat burger is the bomb. Made from scratch, burgers are handmade, grilled, baked, and served on a whole wheat bun. This one features a Buddha Patty made of chickpeas, brown rice, curry, onion, fresh ginger, garlic, fresh cilantro and lemon juice. It’s doused in Frank’s (yup, we put that s–t on everything), vegan bacon, glazed yams, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and curry mayo. It’s delicious. This Canadian chain, or “world’s first vegan burger cafe,” has mastered selling plant-based junk food for the masses. Hot sauce and other (less important) condiments are already on the table, surrounded by a massive roll of brown paper towels. The environment is quirky and full of farm animals. Very friendly staff wear black T-shirts reading ‘boonivore’ on the back. After one bite of the Bombay Heat, I want one, along with everything on their menu.
What to order: Bombay Heat
‘The Change is Coming’ is an odd name but the burger is surprisingly delicoius. It’s made from scratch with a chickpea vegetarian patty plus cilantro, sriracha, pea tendrils, tzatziki and guacomole, and served on a whole wheat kaiser. It’s topped with a surprise: green bean tempura. Emma’s burger almost has me licking my fingers in public. But then I remember I’m at this cottage in south Burlington where Emma’s – formally known as the Estaminet Standard Hotel – opened in 1919 and famous people such as legendary musician Louis Armstrong and former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (aka Dief the Chief) dined here, so I should exercise restraint. But that doesn’t mean you have to.
What to order: The Change is Coming ($17.75)
Essentially everything on the menu at the Gingerman is fantastic, including their nachos, tuna, burgers, and fries. Take their veggie burger. It’s got black beans, carrots, rolled oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, onions, garlic, cheddar cheese, garlic aioli and grainy mustard. That’s a mouthful. It’s fantastic and no trip to the Gingerman is complete without their hand-cut Yukon gold fries, sprinkled with sea salt. They just hit the spot to the point where I could finish a massive platter of them for a solid, carb-filled, fatty meal. Same goes for the nachos. (Hopefully the cranky old guy who runs my gym doesn’t read this … or it will probably be death by burpee). Chase your meal with a glass of their hand-picked wine selection if you fancy vino, or be cool like me and order a whisky sour. The Kerr Village gem offers a great atmosphere with tons of wood and natural light, and is also known for its blue goose quesadilla, lettuce wraps, and salads.
What to order: The Naam ($16.50)
There’s a bicycle by the entrance in downtown Oakville and an interior you’ll love. Ricarda’s offers up everything from flatbreads (we love the Orbetello version, featuring prosciutto, figs, gorgonzola, walnuts, and brussels sprouts) to Sunday brunch, plus dinner and cocktails. There are plenty of vegetarian options, including custom salads. The Quinoa and Spinach burger is a slam dunk, featuring balsamic-glazed portobello mushrooms, pepper jam, and smoked cheese (there’s also feta in the burger). It’s served with a green field tabbouleh salad or shoestring fries which are downright addictive. (Carnivores will love the Lamb Burger with scamorza cheese, tomato aioli, caramelized onions, romaine, and did we mention those absolutely perfect shoestring fries?!). The restaurant’s Toronto location is on Peter St., right in the entertainment district and boasts a substantial food menu. It’s best known for its upscale-yet-unpretentious vibe and vast array of eats such as quiche, flatbread, pizza, and wine. The new Oakville menu is curated and early best-sellers include the Carnaroli Risotto with black truffle oil, wild mushrooms, aged balsamic glaze, and hibiscus sea salt flakes (I will legit try just about anything with hibiscus). With its airy, brass-heavy interior and great service, it will no doubt satisfy locals who can never have enough fantastic Mediterranean eats.
What to order: Quinoa and Spinach burger ($15)