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DELICIOUSLY HEALTHY PLACES FOR PLANT-BASED BURGERS IN SF

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MATT CHARNOCK

NOV 12, 2019

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IMAGE VIA NEXT LEVEL BURGER | FACEBOOK

It’s no secret that meat-free burgers are having a moment. From bleeding Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat patties to creative menu items made with beets, chickpeas, or mushrooms, finding a sans meat burger that tastes as good as the real thing is easier than ever. But, not all plant-based burgers are created equal.

Don’t fret — we’ve scoured the scene and rounded up our favorite plant-based burger hubs in San Francisco. So, whether you’re a steadfast vegan or a fast food frequent in search of a healthier option, we’ve got you covered.

An eco-conscious burger emporium in Oakland, Pacific Heights, and Cow Hollow, Roam Artisan Burgers knows a thing or two about a quality patty. Sure, their free-range turkey and all-natural beef burgers are legendary among SF burger enthusiasts, but their house-made, organic veggie burger (that’s also vegan and gluten-free!) is the real star. Choose between a sesame, whole grain, or gluten-free bun sourced from Pacific Coast Baking Company, then load up your handheld with copious veggie toppings (hey, house-made pickles), and one (or more) sauces, and prepare your tastebuds for a treat. A word to the wise: Their handcrafted sodas are as delicious as they are thirst-quenching, and pair perfectly a burger.

With locations in San Francisco and Singapore, this fully plant-based burger joint is making waves across the Pacific. And with menu favorites like the Haight ‘N’ Salsa (think vegan street taco meets plant-based burger) and Avocado Beetroot, it’s little surprise why VeganBurg is lauded by carnivores and herbivores alike. Even better, their burgers are now made with Impossible patties. Sandwich your handheld of choice between their signature, seedy, nutritionally-dense bun, order up a side of seaweed fries and have yourself a MEAL.

At this popular SoMa and Oakland spot, it’s all about the Impossible burger. Umami Burgers offers four takes on the now famous patty. Hankering for a taste of the OG? Order up the Original (featuring not one, but TWO patties) or the Classic Cheeseburger, both featuring the works — cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato. For those in the mood for something a bit different, ask about the Impossible Truffle Maker or Impossible Vegan BBQ. Either way, make sure you grab a handmade aqua fresca or lemonade to wash it all down.

Across from Pier 33, Hillstone has been a foodie destination for San Franciscans for nearly two decades. And in a city that’s as health-conscious as ours, they’ve made sure to have a few items on their scratch-made menu for the vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians among us. That’s why they now serve a house-made veggie burger nestled inside an egg bun, topped with house greens, and blanketed by melted jack cheese and a light soy glaze. We’re drooling just thinking about it. Fitt Tip: Hillstone upholds a strong, quasi-formal dress code — so save the flip-flops, tank-tops, and casual board shorts for another time.

Don't let the retro vibes and diner aesthetic fool you — this unassuming bar and restaurant is home to, perhaps, one of the city’s most delectable plant-based burgers. Mars Bar in SoMa has two meat-free burgers, one of which is a traditional veggie burger. But the real winner is their portobello mushroom “sandwich” (read: it’s served and prepared just like a burger). This decadent beef substitute is marinated in balsamic and a duo of olive oil and herbs to give it a punch of umami, then topped with fresh greens, roasted red peppers, and melted Swiss cheese for a savory mushroom morsel that dreams are made of.

Bowling Alley? Vegetarian-friendly grub? Sign us up! Mission Bowling Club’s vegan burger is a delicious, bean-based patty that is not only loaded with heart-healthy fats and plant-based proteins but is dressed with a carrot top pesto, pickled fennel, rainbow carrot slices, and a healthy portion of sweet onions. Don’t worry — you won’t be the first person to have ever asked for the recipe, but no promises they’ll give it up. And if you happen to be meeting your brunch crew at Mission Bowling, they also have a vegan falafel burger with sumac pickled onion and house-made harissa.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, odds are you’ve seen (or strolled past) one of Super Duper Burger’s locations. While they may be a fast food joint, they are fully committed to serving up quality, locally-sourced burgers, buns, and ingredients. Case in point: their signature veggie burger. Far from your typical frozen option, their patty is made from organic, plant-based ingredients and, instead of mayo, is lacquered with hummus and, of course, their famous Super Sauce. Add on avocado, jack cheese (or both) for an incredible flavor-filled creation you'll come back for more than once.

This old-timey ice cream parlor that harkens back to a San Francisco of yesteryear isn’t just slinging molten melts and hand-churned malts, they also know their way around a grill, which means you can also stop in for a juicy burger, plant-based options included. First, there’s the aptly-named Garden Burger, featuring a vegan patty, a plethora of greens, red onion, and tomato. And if you want something a bit less traditional, there’s the Oh Hell Burger, a unique take on the meat-less burger that is made with marinated and grilled seitan, and topped with greens, red onion, and jalapeño aioli. Looking for an interesting, vegan-friendly side dish? Order-up their vegan chorizo hash that’ll even make your pork-loving friends wanting a forkful.

Next Level Burger is all about quality and sustainability, so it only makes sense that their burgers, and everything else they serve, is made from non-GMO, all organic ingredients. And you won’t have to worry about searching the menu for a singular veggie or vegan option, either — the fast casual eatery in the Potrero Hill Whole Foods and in Concord is entirely plant-based. Feeling adventurous? Go for The Animal burger, two sausage-style patties topped with organic tempeh bacon, crinkle cut fries, grilled onions, and your choice of dairy-free cheese, house-made special sauce, and BBQ sauce.

The Plant Cafe Organic was among the first to bring the idea of plant-based burgers to the Bay Area. Since expanding from San Francisco to San Jose (and beyond), they’ve continued to roll out new green eats and tweak old standbys with fresh and exciting ingredients. And The Plant Burger is a vegan handheld you won’t want to sleep on. Featuring their own veggie patty (lentils, mushrooms, beets, cashews, and bulgur wheat), topped with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, vegan aioli, and sandwiched between an Acme bun, this is about to be your new go-to for you meatless burger fix. Keen on adding a side dish? Skip the salad and for the shiitake spring rolls — you can thank us later.

There are plenty of reasons to love Grandeur in Oakland. Not only does the menu at this fast-casual spot feature tons of plant-based burgers, it also offers a handful of Halal options. Even better, whether you're going for the Impossible, Beyond Meat, or falafel patty, you'll have your choice of a brioche, pretzel, or gluten-free (and vegan!) bun. Seriously, this place is great. And don't even get us started on their vegan, house-made sauces.

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