The best burgers in New York are a hot-button issue—Time Out has got our own Battle of the Burger to prove it. But passionate discourse over those cheap-eats patties aren’t relegated only to meat eaters—where to find the best veggie burger in NYC is also a topic of contention, with options made by some big-name toques and at some of the city’s best vegan and vegetarian restaurants.
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Best veggie burgers in NYC
Brooks Headley’s brick-and-mortar offshoot of his white-hot 2014 veggie-burger pop-up has been met with critical acclaim and, more crucially, everyman approval, thanks to its dense, nicely charred, surprisingly meaty patty built with grains (faro, barley, quinoa). That meatless round gets further amped with melted Muenster, crisp iceberg lettuce, roasted plum tomatoes, snappy dill pickles and copious squirts of honey mustard. $6
What the patties from this four-time Vendy winner lack in meat they make up for in Korean-chili heft. A seitan-based round is topped with sautéed kimchi, pickled red onions, black-sesame gomashio, sriracha mayonnaise and peppery arugula on a soft-but-sturdy herb focaccia. $10.
The power of bacon is a transcending one, so you can’t fault even vegetarians wanting to get in on the crispy, salty action. At the vegan Chelsea café, find a soy patty toppling with meat-free bacon, vegan mozzarella, caramelized onions, mushrooms and chipotle aioli on a semolina bun. $16
Eleven Madison Park emperor Daniel Humm jumped on the veggie-burger bandwagon July 2015 with his elegant iteration at the gilded gastropub, made with lentils and cremini mushrooms before hitting the fryer. If that isn’t tasty enough for you, Humm and executive chef James Kent then crown the whole thing with drizzles of piquillo aioli for an extra bite. $16
In between wild-game options like bison, elk and boar, the organic burger chain offers a variety of nonmeat burgers like sweet potato and wild rice, black bean and, best of all, a nicely texture farmers' quinoa patty. DIY your burger with a choice of bun (brioche, sprout), cheese (Gouda, Manchego), sauces and spreads (stone mustard, habanero mayo) and even more veggies, from pickled jalapeños to stout onions. $9.90
Husband-and-wife empire builders Rob Newton and Kerry Diamond played a game of musical chairs down on Smith Street: their Vietnamese joint, Nightingale 9, moved to the former Seersucker space to make room for this casual spin-off of their Southern-fried hit. Unlike the confounding shuffling, things get simpler when it comes to the comfort-food menu. There's plenty of fried chicken and a classic cheeseburger, but there's also a stellar veggie patty, built with black beans and chipotle—add American cheese for an extra buck or pimento cheese for two. $9
This hulking beaut is the East Village grill’s signature and for good reason. The roasted mushroom round is slathered with pesto spread on an Ezekiel bun and topped with a laundry list of fixings: roasted green peppers, guacamole, vegan cheese, caramelized onions and sprouts. Who said healthy and tasty were mutually exclusive? $15
The ShackBurger may be the crowd favorite at Danny Meyer’s burger giant, but this mushroom-fueled alternative is nothing to sneeze at. A portobello puck is fried to a crisp and stuffed with melted Muenster and cheddar cheeses before getting crowned with lettuce, tomato and that signature ShackSauce. Beef, who? $7
Vegan, organic, gluten-free, non-GMO—this Smorg-set patty ticks nearly every box on the veggievore checklist. But beyond Paleo-baiting buzzwords, the food-flea vendor offers top-rate burgers padded with portabello mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, balsamic onions and goat cheese, all on a gluten-free bun. $8.10
Lifelong vegetarian Chloe Coscarelli offers three types of no-meat burgers at this fast-casual vegan concept: The classic version is a jazzed-up tempeh-lentil patty with beet ketchup and special sauce ($8.95), it’s Mexican-minded spin comes with guac, corn salsa and chipotle aioli ($9.95), and a portabello mushroom burger gets flavor-bombed with grilled pineapple, onion marmalade and—get ready—bourbon barbecue sauce ($10.95).
It may be meatless but that doesn’t mean you won’t need those namesake napkins when you take a big, gloriously messy mouthful of this veg-based burger. A tender puck built with beans, barley, brown rice and beets, giving it a rosy-rare hue, is tricked out with creamy 5N sauce, pickles, lettuce and tomato on a multigrain roll. $15.50