The thing about veggie burgers, you might say, is that they aren’t really burgers at all. And that’s part of why we love them. They arrive on our plates as diverse sandwiches, tasty patties and adventurous takes on an old staple, perhaps, from bygone barbecues. When out with our carnivorous friends (or when you’re out with one of us, more likely), though, it’s nice to have options for everyone. But these aren’t just options; these are worth feasting on. From burgers at the city's best vegetarian restaurants to bites at non-vegetarian restaurants, your palate will be pleased.
The best veggie burgers in Chicago
Of course Chicago Diner has the best veggie burger in town—this hot spot has been “meat-free since ’83.” With locations in Boystown and more recently in Logan Square, you can always count on friendly service and an array of vegetarian and vegan options. Even as the office’s resident vegetarian, I was surprised by how delicious this burger was. As an annoying rule, I almost never finish a burger, and let’s just say, this plate had mere crumbs (and maybe a pickle) left when I was done with it. The veggie seitan patty comes topped with thinly sliced seitan bacon and french fried onions, lettuce, tomato and Chipotle Fire sauce. Pair it with a local beer and mashed potatoes, and you’ll sleep well for days. Runner up: the equally delicious, more adventurous Buddha’s Karmer Burger, with a curried sweet potato-tofu patty, grilled pineapple, lettuce, onion and chimichurri sauce. $11
Don’t be fooled by the 1950s greasy spoon atmosphere, this Humboldt Park diner focuses on local ingredients and healthy options. Get the veggie burger—full of, duh, veggies, plus lentils and tofu and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and sprouts (yum!). Note: The menu can change depending on what’s in season, but you’ll leave knowing that not only was the food good, it was good. $9.95
This one looks, shall we say, surprisingly real. The patty is made of roasted red beet (oh, did you want that well done?), cremini mushroom and black beans so it’s moist and the texture is just right. The burger is topped with red onion marmalade, pepper jack cheese and arugula. It’s a little bit fancy, a little bit rock-and-roll, a little like the brewpub itself. Pair it with any of Revolution’s beers and call it a day. $13
We admit it. The name is what intrigued us here. Fortunately, this sucker holds its own, and it’s not fruity or frivolous at all, just a little tangy—and dense. The house-made patty is formed from vegan spinach, chickpeas and carrots, with sauteed mushrooms and your option of fresh or fried avocado on top. Pair it with an order of fried pickles and wash it all down with a beer. $14
Butcher & the Burger's thing is building your own burger, all the way down to choice of patty. Veggie lovers can rely on the lentil brown rice burger, a soft patty packed with lentils and soft brown rice that's seasoned however you'd like (we prefer the simple kosher salt and cracked pepper, but you can pick options like umami and "Grandma’s Onion Soup"). After that, pick a split top butter egg bun and a variety of toppings—from LTO to avocado, griddled mushrooms, fried eggs and black truffle aioli. $8.25 —Elizabeth Atkinson
This black bean burger tastes like it comes fresh off the barbecue at your friend’s cookout, and just in case you weren’t certain, that’s a good thing. You can make this Logan Square eatery’s popular double patty—with two slices of American cheese and onion, lettuce, pickles and mayo—a black bean burger instead, and it’s simply delicious. If you’re feeling a little rambunctious, make it combo and add fries and a shot and a beer for $11. $6
The best french fries in Chicago
It's no surprise Chicago restaurants absolutely nail french fries, considering how great Chicago is at making hot dogs and burgers. These versions of our favorite side range from garlic fries at a Latin American restaurant to decadent foie gras fries, and they are totally worth seeking out.