It’s easy to find a great burger in the Mile High City. Vegetarians, on the other hand, have had to search doggedly for a satisfying patty. But thanks to recent openings (and two classic standbys), Denver veggie lovers aren’t going hungry.
Since the Kitchen Next Door opened in Boulder in June 2011, one of its signature dishes has been the roasted beet burger. The hearty mixture of roasted beets, chickpeas, celery, onions, and carrots arrives topped with tangy feta, arugula dressed in a lemony vinaigrette, and caramelized onions. Servers recommend you add hummus and a side of kale chips (we agree).
Highland Tap & Burger’s black bean patty doesn’t skimp on ingredients. The LoHi joint even uses expensive soy flour and protein as binders. Order the patty with any of the tavern’s toppings. Or just follow the masses: The Shroom Luva’s burger—with sautéed mushrooms, Emmental cheese, white truffle aïoli, and (optional) shaved foie gras—won the Denver Burger Battle People’s Choice in 2011.
When Josh Epps and Christina Smith—owners of Jelly, a popular brunch spot—opened their Berkeley burger bar in December, they knew they would need a veggie option. The pair tinkered with nearly 50 different recipes before settling on a gorgeous beet patty speckled with whole black beans. Sub this hybrid for any burger on the menu (Epps recommends the French Onion burger with Gruyère and onions that have been braised for six hours).
Block & Larder takes the veggie burger into exciting territory by topping its vegan quinoa and oats patty with arugula, crispy onion straws, cranberry ketchup, and a sweet chile cream cheese spread. Although the focus of this Berkeley eatery is meat, owners Lucas, Aaron, and Jason Forgy (of LoDo’s Freshcraft) were determined to present a well-rounded menu for the vegetarian friends of their mostly carnivore audience. FYI, this ain’t diet food: The burger will fill you up as much as a T-bone.
After opening the fast-casual Chop Shop this past July, former Zengo chef Clint Wangsnes decided to add a veggie burger to his menu of meats, salads, and sandwiches. The problem: He’d never eaten one. After polling his friends and family about their preferences, he came up with a mushroom-tofu burger, a combo of mushrooms, black beluga lentils, applewood-smoked organic tempeh, goat cheese, bread crumbs, and an herb blend of fresh thyme, chives, marjoram, and parsley. Pan-seared in olive oil and garnished with tomatoes, arugula, house pickles, and a lemon–Boursin cheese aïoli, the burger’s crunchy but meaty texture and vibrant flavor make it a winner. Plus, it comes with the addictive taro root, yucca, and potato house chips.