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the full burger experience without the beef

  • s

I don't eat beef, but I'm totally into the burger experience. Maybe it's an American thing, I don't know, but there is something so satisfying about eating a really excellent, really enormous, two-fisted big old burger -- one that is too big to fit into your mouth. Does anyone have recommendations for major, serious non-beef burgers? I've had a bunch of insipid garden burgers, and they'll keep me from getting too strung out, but truth be told they don't really cut it. The best thing I know, and it's okay, is the chicken burger at the Daily Grill. But the Daily Grill is a chain and therefore the devil. Surely there exists a burger-eater's burger made with something besides beef at a chow-approved locale. Chowhounds really came through for me when I needed a high-quality non-dairy pizza experience (answer: Z Pizza), so any guidance would be much appreciated!

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  1. Check out Mo' Better Meaty Meat Burgers. Great two-fisted veggie burger, dressed to kill with all sorts of condiments, including corn. Rich, fancy ice cream shakes, too.

    Corner of Pico and Fairfax.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Oopsie Daisy

      Astro Burger (locations on Melrose in Hollywood, and Santa Monica Blvd. in WeHo) have an extensive menu of veggie burgers, including veggie patty melts.

      1. re: Oopsie Daisy

        I can't believe more people didn't write in about Mo Better Meaty Meat Burgers at Fairfax and Pico. Their veggie burger is absolutely, positively, without a doubt THE BEST VEGGIE BURGER HANDS DOWN NO QUESTIONS ASKED, I SWEAR ON MY FIRST-BORN CHILD, NO JOKE, THE HONEST TO GOD TRUTH, ETC, ETC.
        Really, it's EXCELLENT and the thick, pepper-dusted fries that come with are great too. Even the catsup dispensers are great there. Easy squeeze for those who like to use a lot of catsup.
        Service is slow so my best advice is to come when a Lakers game is on and just watch it there while you wait/eat. The shakes are pretty good too.

        1. re: The Chief

          You guys are making me hungry. Does Mo Better just have the one location, or are there others?

          Of course... with such rave reviews of their veggie burger, I gotta wonder if it's really vegetarian. ;)

          Anyone ever see that episode of Drew Carey where his friends trick his vegetarian girlfriend (Ileana Douglas) into eating "veggie" burgers that were really beef?

        2. re: Oopsie Daisy

          Yes, Astro-burgers make a good veggie, especially their burger with melted jack and jalepenos. But Mo' Better Meaty Meaty Burgers are truly the cock of the LA veggie burger walk. It took me a LONG time before I would even eat there - as a vegetarian, I was totally deterred by the name of the place. But don't be fooled, the veggie burgers are flavorful and moist (maybe from keeping company on the grill with real meaty meat burgers?), they come with corn which sounds funny but is really good. Adding cheese is also good - they have American, jack, cheddar etc. And don't forget to order some fries. They are also delicious.

          1. re: Cattus

            PS to Cattus:

            Funny about your having been deterred by the name. I heard that mo'better meaty meat burgers was actually started by a couple of vegetarians. No joke.

        3. There is no such thing. Any veggie burger cannot compare to THAT experience. So, go ahead...we won't tell...

          1. Oh Stan. First the pizza thing, now this burger thing.

            I have to disagree with the chain = evil equation. I think it depends on the chain. After all Z Pizza is a mini-chain. And as I did first recommend it to you, I think the proof is in the pudding - or the pizza in that case. And did you ever sign up on their mailing list? I know you'd mentioned the price and I did just receive a 25 percent off coupon via email.

            Now back to the burger thing. What about Fatburger's turkey burger? Charbroiled with everything - pretty complete burger experience. You can even get a double. With cheese of course.

            And I believe further evidence that not all chains are created equal - nor evil.

            Here's a link to their menu.

            Link: http://www.fatburger.com/menu.html

            3 Replies
            1. re: Louisa Chu

              All chains are created EVIL. It is only on the LA board where chains are even considered food. Imagine that.

              1. re: Amanda Weiss

                Being on the cutting edge (or bleeding edge O.J.) of a lot of things, L.A. 'hounds are very adaptable, and that adaptability and willingness to try anything serves them well, together with the innate 'hound trait of sniffing out deliciousness, *where ever* a 'hound may find it. I think you will find a general consensus on the L.A. board that many of the chain experiences, are in fact a manifestation of evil incarnate, but every once in a while that evil seems to be tempered by the forces of good food, and that is the challenge, to find the gem of an experience amid the scree of rubble.

                1. re: Amanda Weiss

                  I'm sorry you think all chains are evil. I guess that just means one less person in line in front of me at In N' Out....

              2. Since you mention chicken burgers, I assume you're not a vegetarian. Nothing aside from beef will really equal the "True Burger Experience", but for turkey burgers I haven't tasted one yet that compares with the one they make at Mustard Seed Cafe on Hillhurst in Hollywood. Awfully nice people run the place too.

                However, years ago, when I was a pretty hard-core veg., I grooved on the non-meat burgers at Orean Express, which used to be in Hollywood but is now located on Lake in Pasadena.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Dukkha Joe

                  Thanks! Here's the stats I've found online for the Mustard Seed Cafe: 1948 Hillhurst Ave, 323-660-0670, Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

                2. r
                  Rich Gould-Saltman

                  I'd put in my vote for both the vege and turkey (particularly the Double-King) at Mo' Bettah Meatty Meat Burgers at Fairfax and Pico, and the Gobbler at Natural Cafe in Santa Barbara (where my wife makes me stop wherever we go up the coast, and where my and chowe-pup's standing gag is "Yeah, it tastes so good because they use those SPECIAL turkeys, the four-legged ones....Moo!")


                  1. If you can stand to go to a chain, the teriyaki chicken burger at Red Robin is really really good. Just thinking about it is making my stomach rumble. The beef equivalent (if you ever decide to eat beef) is the Banzai burger which is also very good but I haven't had it in ages b/c the chicken is just that good.

                    I also like their "Truly Amazing Veggie Burger" (not to be confused with their Boca burger)

                    I don't know whether Red Robin has consistency issues, but I've never had a problem with the one at the Galleria in Redondo Beach.

                    1. You might want to try a sports bar called Bank Shot in WLA/Venice at the corner of Venice and Inglewood. Their menu includes large turkey burgers which are supposedly ground fresh daily. There are several kinds available (western, California, etc.)

                      Caveat: I haven't had one. They sound good from the menu. Also, it's bar food. Pretty rough-and-ready in general.

                      Bonus: Karaoke Wednesday nights there is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time (heavy on pathos).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Key Lime Guy

                        I'll have to admit that I never thought of a sports bar. Makes perfect sense, though. Thanks.

                      2. Maybe it's just me, but I've always gotten the feeling that the people who cook the chicken and turkey burgers really don't think much of them. Otherwise, why don't they taste better? OTOH, there's generally someplace that can make a good nonbeef loaf. So, I'm thinking you find those places and go off the menu for a turkey loaf or chicken loaf or veggie loaf sandwich. Of course, it'll probably cost a little more. Ciao.

                        1. Order the 26 Special at 26 Beach Restaurant,
                          3100 Washington Blvd.
                          Have them substite turkey patty or veggie patty.
                          If you have an appetite order the PARTY of 5, 5 patties, 5 slices of cheese, and if you finish it they give you a free meal next time. Great Burgers! They make thier own buns and patties their.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Burger Boy

                            when you look at the hamburger menu at 26 beach, keep in mind that they will be happy to substitute a veggie patty in ANY of the burgers listed--you are not limited to the ones listed as veggie.

                            i concur with burger boy that the veggie burgers at 26 beach are REALLY GOOD.
                            that said, the burgers come with salad or fries, get the fries.
                            although i ADORE the entree salads at 26 beach, imho the side salads are nothing with nothing, their fries, though, are terrific.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              Burger Boy was still getting to know the menu at 26 Beach almost 7 years ago when he posted to this 2002 thread... ;-D>

                            2. re: Burger Boy

                              would a five by five veggie patty style , still give you a free meal if you devour the whole thing.

                              also, do they offer cheddar cheese.

                              i will attempt next time i am there.

                              and will demolish that big boy burger.

                            3. THE GOOD EARTH on Ventura in Studio city makes the best vegetarian hamburgers in the city. they are called Planet Burgers, and trust me, you dont miss the beef!!

                              1. i know, i know, it's a chain, but
                                the veggie burger at Houston's is homemade and very good.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  it's a little too heavy and excessive.

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    excessive? maybe that's why i find it so hard to diet, i can't imagine what that word would mean when it comes to good food!

                                    that's why i can polish off an entire mojarra frita at mariscos chente by myself and can polish off TWO full-sized caesar salads at cheesecake factory by myself in one sitting!

                                    to me there is nothing excessive about the veggie burger at houstons--if i let myself, i'd probably order 2 at one sitting.


                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                      Then I mean more heavy than excessive. Trust me. I can polish off quite an amount too.

                                      Starting with the Fried Chicken with hot sichuan peppers at Chung King on Gairfield preceeded by a combo plate of their charcuterie (spicy beef jerky, beef tendons, and a couple other side dishes) washed down with copious amounts of Tsing Tao Beer.

                                      Then it's off to a dumpling joint for a plate of baby bok choy or steamed spinach in garlic followed by a steamer of fish dumplings along with some sesame noodles.

                                      And lastly half a newport seafood lobster, followed by beef lo loc, washed down with even more chinese beer.

                                      and then a triple scoop of taro, buttermilk, and chocolate rasberry mousse ice cream from Fosselman's now I'm really getting hungry.

                                      When I had all that I didn't feel as bad afterwards as a veggie burger with hickory sauce and a bake potato with cheddar cheese from Houston's. And it goes without saying that I really like Houston's. It's almost great for a chain and quite civilized. Love the old fashioned faux wainscotting.

                                      Anyhow, the veggie burger is just too heavy and excessive in my humblest of opinions. but then again what do I know. it does have it's supporters and we arrive at your case in point.


                                      1. re: kevin

                                        i now know how to recognize you if we happen to run into each other at mariscos chente; you will be the person with as much food on your table as i.

                                2. Umami Burger on La Brea.
                                  Triple Pork Burger, Turkey Confit Burger, and MidEast Burger (Lamb w/ Harissa).

                                  1. Surprised no one has mentioned the ostrich burger at Astro. I think this might be the only non-beef burger I ever consume. Very good with cheese and even better with bacon. It's got a touch of gaminess to make up for the leanness of the meat.

                                    1. Love the Big Macro at M Chaya.

                                      M Cafe De Chaya
                                      9343 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                                      1. Haven't back for a while but I use to go to the "Spot" in Hermosa Beach and remembered they use to have a really good vegetarian burger.

                                        1. Hole in the Wall In West LA, where Dainties used to be...

                                          Hole in the Wall Burger Joint
                                          11058 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                            Those ain't no Daintes any more (and neither are the fries!). ;-D>

                                          2. I'd like to put in a mention for the turkey burgers at a small south bay chain called Good Stuff. They're surprisingly juicy and well seasoned.