The future for eco-friendly fast food is here.
That’s BurgerFi’s pitch with a pair of vegetarian burgers. The Florida-born restaurant chain (the name stands for “burgerfication of the nation”) started with two locations, in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Delray Beach before going national. They were the first national chain to introduce the plant-based Beyond Burger, made with plant proteins but intended to look and taste like beef.
They also have a traditional veggie patty on the menu, as well as their Black Angus burgers. We wanted to see how the veggie options stacked up.
How It Looks
The VegeFi Burger is made from quinoa and resembles most veggie burgers, brown and sort of seared. The teeny grains are mixed with green lentils, shredded raw carrot and zucchini, caramelized onions and sautéed baby bella mushrooms with thyme in a red wine reduction. It’s tied together with egg and grated parmesan and fontina cheeses. It can be ordered on a fluffy burger bun or nestled between cups of iceberg lettuce.
The Beyond Burger is made in Southern California from the tiny gluten-free grains of amaranth blended with pea protein, carrot fiber, beet extract, potato starch, and yeast extract. The burger is reddish in color almost resembling a rare beef burger, but the color is natural from beet juices. The patties are vegan and served with ketchup, pickles and lettuce. With mayo and cheese it is vegetarian.
How It Tastes
The VegeFi patty is fried in peanut oil until crisped and browned on the outside and soft and chewy inside. It tastes earthy and nutty like wild rice.
The Beyond Burger is reddish in color and has an umami, beefy flavor — a bit on the salty side. The patty is tender and slightly chewy with a fresh consistency, almost like ground chuck. On a hot griddle, the patty sizzles and even oozes a little fat from the canola and coconut oils in the mixture and this helps create a nice brownish crust with a bit of “bleed” from the beet extract.
Can You Tell The Difference?
When dressed up with mayo, lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat bun the Beyond Burger is a very satisfying substitute for a beef burger. Many tasters could not tell the difference. The VegeFi burger is less like a real beef burger and more like the nutty, slightly starchy blandness associated with veggie burgers. However, ordering it with the works — mayo, ketchup, mustard, lettuce and tomato — it is delicious. It is a plus knowing you have spared a cow for a plant-based patty. Once you enjoy a veggie burger you may come to prefer them in their own grainy goodness.