10 Best Veggie Burgers in Los Angeles
|Orean The Health Express|
Orean doesn't seem like the type of place that should succeed. Stationed right next to a McDonald's on Lake Boulevard in Pasadena, they bill themselves as The Health Express and claims to be the first vegetarian fast-food spot around, having opened in 1979. There's a drive thru window and everything, which might lead you to lower your expectations when ordering. Thankfully, Orean shatters those expectations with a seriously delicious veggie burger. The regular Orean cheeseburger comes fast from the walk up window, but doesn't suffer much from the lack of a wait. Sure, there are haphazardly placed toppings just like any other fast food joint, but the brown rice patty is perhaps the tenderest version on this entire list. It's been well-griddled at the edges, which gives off a nice smoky crust in certain bites, while a thick slab of tomato on top smooths out the rest. The shredded cheddar cheese blend could do with a bit more melt, but the shredded lettuce and semi-sweet ketchup are exactly the sort of thing you'd find at the Golden Arches next door, only tastier. Top it off with one incredibly airy wheat bun that's been toasted on the grill and you've got a fast, cheap, tasty veggie burger that is indeed worthy of riding The Health Express. 817 N. Lake Blvd., Pasadena; 626-794-0861.
3. Native Foods
Farley Elliott Native Foods
With locations nationwide, Native Foods is hiding in plain daylight for anyone in search of a wonderful veggie burger. Cheekily listed under the Handholds section as an Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger, the actual sandwich almost more closely resembles a shaved roast beef than a burger. Instead of pucking together a bunch of warm, slightly salty seitan, the tender pile is left to fend for itself under a mountain of toppings. Snappy Native Foods 'bacon' imparts some real smokiness, and a plump of melted cheddar in the middle makes sure you've got all the fat you can handle. Above that, you'll find battered dill pickles that would be simply too much to handle if they didn't taste so great. Then it's a full-on dump of romaine lettuce, carrot shreds, onions and hearty tomato circles that feel seriously meaty in your mouth. Once the whole thing has been slathered with a sweetened BBQ sauce and a touch of ranch dressing, you'll swear that the messy pile in your hands doesn't even really resemble a burger. But you also won't be able to put it down. 9343 Culver Blvd., Culver City (and other locations); 310-559-3601.
Farley Elliott Umami Burger
2. Umami Burger
Umami Burger's growing beef and bun empire has long been a surprise favorite with vegetarians. Their Earth Burger is a staple on every Umami menu, and is often ordered by meat eaters looking for a change. The hefty patty is comprised of a mushroom blend and plenty of edamame, then given some beet juice coloring for a medium-rare interior shot. Underneath the patty you'll find lettuce and a perfectly roasted tomato, while the top is laced with sautéed onions and plenty of ricotta. Of course, it wouldn't be Umami without a strong splash of truffle oil, but in the case of the veggie burger the earthy funk doesn't distract from the rest of the ingredients. Stacked up with the same squishy Umami bun you're used to, the Earth Burger is a formidable entrant into the world of burgers, veggie or otherwise. Various locations.
5601 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA