Everyone can appreciate a good burger and that includes vegetarians, vegans, and other meat-free folks. Luckily, it is easy to find delicious, mouth-watering, meat-free burgers right here in Southeast Portland. So many options might leave you wondering: which burger offers the most delicious taste at the most reasonable price? Over the course of a week, I put five promising burger contenders to the test in an attempt to find a burger that even the most fervent of meat-eaters would find irresistible.
My first stop was Little Big Burger at 3810 SE Division Street, a well-known Portland classic. The simple menu boasts a 100 percent vegan bite-sized veggie burger for 4.50 with an additional .50 cents for cheese. Made by Field Roast Grain Meat Company, the Little Big Burger makes for the perfect lunch pick-me-up that leaves you satisfied without feeling extremely full. “Even as someone who eats meat I still really like this burger,” says Franklin student Juno Tippet-Hunt (10). The simple dressings of lettuce and pickles give the burger a classic feel that pairs excellently with the chain’s signature truffle fries. Together, they make for a filling, affordable, and accessible meal that caters to vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike.
Next, I visited Next Level Burger at 4121 SE Hawthorne Blvd. This brightly colored establishment caught my attention for its commitment to serving 100 percent plant-based burgers, cheese fries, and even milkshakes. After perusing the many options I finally settled on the Signature Burger. It costs eight dollars and is made with a mushroom and quinoa patty and topped with avocado, roasted garlic and thyme mayo, and vegan swiss cheese between a whole wheat bun. As someone accustomed to eating vegetarian burgers, I found the taste quite enjoyable especially given the addition of the garlic mayo. However, in my opinion, the patty lacked in flavor and structural integrity. These fatal flaws might be off-putting to someone who is new to the world of veggie burgers, as the Signature Burger lacked the classical element that makes a burger such an iconic American comfort food. Overall, Next Level Burger is great for veggie burger pros, but for those looking for a realistic and affordable alternative, I would say that the admittedly slightly sloppy Signature Burger is not the way to go.
Next, I made my way down Foster to try out the vegan Field Burger from Foster Burger, located on 5339 SE Foster Road. This nine dollar burger is the most expensive of their classic burgers and is made with a patty of barley, fresh carrots, mushrooms, and celery. At only one dollar more than the Signature Burger from Next Level, the Field Burger offered a far more classic flavor profile with a sturdy patty that held together firmly. On my burger, I chose to add swiss cheese, which I felt helped create the feel of an authentic burger. I’m sure without cheese the burger still would’ve proven tasty, but the patty still lacked the crunch present in meaty burgers. However, the delicious brioche bun made up for any faults in the patty. All in all, the unique rock and roll atmosphere combined with a nice hearty burger made the Field Burger a winner in my eyes.
Finally, I headed down just a few blocks from Franklin to a small, red food cart called The Dog House PDX located at 5029 SE Division Street. This vibrant cart serves up burgers, tater-tot bowls, milkshakes, and more. Each of their burgers can be made with a veggie patty leaving many options to choose from. I settled on the Seoul Searching burger with grilled mushrooms and onions, avocado, sesame oil, and house-made Korean chili sauce. Although not your standard American burger, this unique fusion made for a delectable meal. For the fairly reasonable price of seven dollars and fifty cents, you are awarded a large burger that can satisfy even the hungriest of stomachs. The delightful veggie patty pairs wonderfully with the somewhat spicy sauce and delicious grilled mushrooms. Despite the messiness, I would highly recommend this burger to anyone looking for a delicious and filling lunch or dinner packed with flavor.
While each of these burgers had their strengths, in my opinion there were two clear winners. If you are someone new to veggie burgers and looking for a quick, affordable meal then I would recommend Little Big Burger. Their easy-to-eat veggie burger offers the classic burger dressings with a delicious vegan patty that even a beef burger lover can appreciate. However, if you are interested in exploring a new flavor while still enjoying the classic taste of a burger then I would highly recommend the Seoul Searching burger from The Dog House PDX. These two burgers are both mouth wateringly delicious in their own ways, and could be appreciated by almost anyone. The host of wonderful, meat-free friendly burger joints close by ensures that regardless of dietary constraints, we can all enjoy a delicious burger from time to time.