Welcome to the third installment of the VegLympics in Los Angeles, Veggie Burger Competition!
Recap of the game thus far:
First up was Hole In The Wall Burger Joint (HITW), which received a score of 53 (out of a possible 60). Second was O! Burger, they got a 50.50. We’ve adopted the ISU Judging System, that’s the International Skating Union scoring system, minus the 8 other judges and a comprehensive understanding of how it works. Apparently, a score on a scale of .25 to 10 is given in each of the following categories:
-Skating Skills (SS)
-Transitions/linking footwork and movement (TR)
Today’s contestant is Veggie Grill. Locations are popping up all over LA by the minute, I had my burger at the Santa Monica location. If you haven’t heard about or tried Veggie Grill yet, I’m sorry. It is the type of place that does Vegans proud– it looks nice, it tastes good, and it competes with regular fast-casual restaurants. In fact, at this location, I got Veggie Grill, my lunch date had Poquito Mas next door, and we met at the seating area outside that serves both. Here’s the results.
I got the VG-Cheeseburger, which is the V-Burger topped with VG-Cheese. That’s a marinated and grilled veggie-steak burger, pickles, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and chipotle ranch sauce on a wheat bun. This comes with a side of red cabbage ‘slaw or chili, but you definitely want to sub-in one of the upgrades. Their options for pricier sides are so good it’s almost a crisis to choose (Sweetheart Fries $2.25, Daily Soup $1.95, Steamin’ Kale with sesame tahini like sauce $1.50, Spring Mix Salad $1.95, or Mac-n-Cheese $2.25), but I went for the classic burger & fry combo for $1.95 more. I could have gotten this guy El Dorado style with jalapenos, caramelized onions and ketchup for free OR you can add avocado or portobello mushroom for $1.50, but this one sounded like a fairer playing field and I don’t actually enjoy it when my mouth hurts while eating– lookin’ at you ‘penos. There are giant menus on the wall and regular ones you can hold in your hand, if you want a more intimate experience. The quality is spot on and it’s a burger-sized burger.
The Meatless Technologies employed at Veggie Grill are Gardein brand. I was excited to have a mo’ meaty burger, not one with a kernel of corn peeking out. Normally, I’m a big ketchup gal, but the chipotle sauce deems it redundant. I wish I could taste the melty-cheesy goodness more, but it was overpowered by all the other delicious stuff. The sweet potato fries are great. Crispy, fresh, and sprinkled with some mystery ingredient that takes them to higher levels. They are best when dipped in the dipping sauce, duh. I *almost* ate the whole thing, and twenty minutes later felt ill I was so full, so if you’re a man-sized eater this might be on the small end, though it should be plenty, we are all getting fat.
I wish I could make frozen supermarket Gardein products (and hey, on that note– whatever happened to Gardein at Costco? I found them there once and then never again) taste as good at home as restaurants are able. I want to know what it’s marinated in other than the hopes and dreams of Canadians. This is a good savory burger. It might not fool someone who had meat yesterday, but it was pretty convincing to the likes of me and my 20 years of meatlessness. I wish they had bun options that weren’t so brown. That’s the dead (pardon the expression) giveaway that it’s “healthy.” The only other options are to get it as a wrap or on a bed of kale.
I really like the pickled finely chopped veggies that come on top of the regular crinkle-cut pickles, even though they’re not listed on the menu. But if I thought O! Burger was expensive at $13, lunch at Veggie Grill came to $13.33 and that was without a drink. If there was a drive-thru version of VG, more like an In-N-Out, say, at half the price, I would eat here every other day. This place is delicious, but Vegan Lunch Is Too Damn High.
Veggie Grill has taken Vegan food to the masses in a brilliant way, but I suggest they commit even further to the idea of competing with traditional fast food burger places. Maybe this is a second-level chain: VG Express; a quicker, cheaper version, without table service, and with even more convincing faux meats. The problem with VG is that while a carnivore will actually eat here and enjoy it, they will balk at it’s cost compared to their other options. Even though they are paying for quality, which is leaps and bounds beyond any fast food chain, it will detract from their ability to appreciate what they’re getting. Still, it was dang good.
Food took about what seems to be the standard amount of time to show up– ten to fifteen minutes. Slower than Poquito Mas, but worth the wait.
Total Score = 53.5
Great job! Veggie Grill is now in first place. Let me know where I should go next!