The burger might be the trend that never dies, but London’s seen an explosion of vegan and veggie eating over the past couple of years – and with that an increase in creativity when it comes to meat-free junk food. Sure, dry bean burgers and soggy mushroom patties still abound – but there are tons of creative veggie options to convert even the most committed carnivore. See below for our pick of London’s 11 best.
The best veggie burgers in London
Sweet Potato, Halloumi and Avocado Burger, £6.50
This Hackney café has combined a few vegetarian menu favourites into a wholesome burger. The patty is full of whole sunflower seeds, giving it a nutty, crunchy texture. This perhaps feels more healthy than any burger has the right to (it’s even suitable for vegans if you ask for it without the halloumi), but then again, why choose the no-meat option if you can’t feel just a tiny bit virtuous about it?
Beef-style burger, £8.50
This ethical café has long been a go-to for Hackney’s vegans, and its beef-style burger is one of their best sellers. Behold: a patty of soya and seitan, packed with fresh herbs, paprika and garlic, topped with salad and a homemade herby mayo of basil, dill, mustard and garlic. That’s about it – save a side of fab-sounding rosemary-and-thyme salted fries. Yes please.
Halloumi and Kimchi Burger, £9
Unusually, this great little Farringdon pub has not one but two veggie burgers. Go for the inventive halloumi and kimchi burger, a favourite since the pub opened in 2012: it’s a Greco-Korean summit of fried, salty cheese with crunchy, chilli-sweet pickled vegetables, plus homemade dill pickle and sauce. It also comes with a generous portion of fries and we’re pretty sure you won’t find this creative combination anywhere else.
Veggie Burger, £6
Tofu has long been seen as a poor substitute for meat, the kind of anaemic thing you find at the back of the fridge in a health food shop. But there’s nothing puritanical about Bleecker Street’s vegetarian offering: they do tofu the right way, frying a massive chunk of it and letting it soak up the flavours of their sweet and spicy buffalo sauce (plus tempering it with a cooling dollop of blue cheese sauce). The ultimate veggie indulgence, this one is probably the most sloppily inviting tofu dish in town.
The Vegetarian, £6.50
Bukowski is into its meat – even the chips (traditionally the safe option for veggies and vegans) are cooked in beef dripping. But the veggie burger is surprisingly good: a hefty, smoky patty stuffed with kidney beans and butternut squash and generously topped with caramelised onions. This is the burger that’s trying its hardest to be a beef burger, which makes it a great choice for the recent vegetarian convert or the ‘meat-free Monday’ crowd.
Very Good Vara Pau, £6
Maltby Street isn’t the most vegetarian-friendly of London’s food markets, but Tanya Gohil’s Anglo-Indian stall Devi’s is a welcome exception. Her brilliantly fruity and juicy twist on the classic Maharashtra vada pau sandwich is a spicy potato bhaji topped with coriander, tamarind and date chutneys, served in a saffron brioche bun. This is one hearty and satisfying burger, and like nothing you’ll find elsewhere. Be quick though: Devi’s sells out by about 2.30pm every week.
Farmacy burger, £15
This stylish Notting Hill spot specialises in ‘healthy indulgence’ – aka, foods that sound naughty, but are actually super wholesome. So it goes with the house burger. A millet, black bean and mushroom patty is surprisingly meaty, and the vegan pile is top loaded with garlic aioli, goji ketchup and avocado. The chips are banging, too.
Honest Burgers’ fritter burger might be the most imaginative of the lot: strip away the bun and you’re left with a delicious, spicy vegetable pakora smothered in chunky cucumber raita. Honest’s incredible triple-cooked, rosemary-salted chips come as part of the price too, so you won’t leave hungry no matter how much of your burger gets sampled by jealous meat-eaters.
This no-bookings veggie joint (now with four London sites) has been going for around 30 years, but it still pulls in the meat-free masses. There are two burgers on offer: a halloumi slab topped with aubergine, harissa and tahini in a flatbread; and the ‘Polish’, with beetroot, white bean and dill stuffed into a focaccia bun. Top with monterey jack or, for a full dose of righteousness, vegan cheese.
What’s your beef?, £7.50
This Brick Lane burger bar is exclusively vegan, so you can nosh your way through the entire menu absolutely guilt-free. There’s modish pulled jackfruit (aka vegan pulled pork) available, but the ‘What’s your beef?’ burger is comforting as they come: a quinoa and black bean patty topped with house burger sauce, caramelised onions and vegan cheese, all wodged into a brioche bun. Job done.
‘Shroom Burger, £5.50
If you’re used to skipping to the bottom of the menu for the veggie option, you might miss this one. Surprisingly, the American chain has made its veggie burger a highlight for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Bite into the breadcrumbed mushroom and you’ll find it oozing molten cheese. This definitely isn't your usual two-bit, fast food chain cop-out.