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Best Veggie Burger in SF

My son is a new vegetarian who has given up meat for ethical reasons. He is desperately missing burgers and would love to find a good veggie burger. He lives at Parkmerced but anywhere in the city or Daly City area would be fine. Any help would be much appreciated as this is a very new thing for him.

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  1. I love a delicious veggie burger, but I'll also take an average garden burger with some decent toppings. I'm pretty happy at Barney's with a veggie burger smothered with BBQ sauce and jack cheese (did I mention the sweet potato fries and the spicy curly fries?) or at Pearl's Phatburger (we go to the one in Mill Valley but there's one in the city). Occasionally I'll even go for a "grilled cheese" at In N Out Burger. There are some great veggie resources in SF and I wish your son the best as he finds some good veggie spots.
    My two current favorites (neither have veggie burgers) are both in the Mission-- Cha-Ya (vegan sushi and Japanese) and Big Lantern (yummy fake meats and veggie dim sum).

    Big Lantern Restaurant
    3170 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    1. SF Weekly just did a feature rounding up veggie burgers. Look on the SFoodie pages.

      1 Reply
      1. Has he tried the Mean Joe Green Burger at Hall of Flame Burger, right in his neighborhood.

        Hall of Flame
        73 Cambon Dr, San Francisco, CA 94132

        1 Reply
        1. re: wolfe

          Ok so the Mean Joe Greeen burger turned out to be quite servicable and extremely convenient. My son has added it to the regular rotation.

        2. Thanks for your replies and excellent suggestions. I am passing them along. He so wants to do this but it is definately a learning process as he loved meat and is also very picky. Hopefully if nothing else, he will branch out and learn to enjoy some new and healthy things.

          1. I've liked the one at Monk's Kettle.

            The Monk's Kettle
            3141 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

            1. Chow does a good veggie burger.

              1. Hillstone (formerly Houston's) also makes their own veggie patty. Was there last night, my wife ordered it, and she enjoyed it (I thought it was merely ok).

                Brown rice, black beans and oat bran recipe with sweet soy and melted Jack

                1 Reply
                1. re: nsheth

                  Oddly enough we are going to be there this weekend. I may have to give it a try.

                2. My favorite is at a new place, Greenburger's:


                  I'd also heard that the house veg burger at KK Cafe on Divis was good, though I was disappointed. Nice and crispy on the outside but bland mush on the inside.

                  KK Cafe
                  252 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                  518 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: DeborahL

                    That texture thing can be very off-putting. It's one of the things that has turned me off veggie burgers in the past. I'm trying to get back in the saddle in support of my newly veggie son. It's not easy though!

                    I'm adding Greenburger's to the list. Thanks for the rec.

                    518 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                    1. re: baseballfan

                      I personally love regular ol' Gardenburgers (they hold together/have good texture), and in my opinion Bean Bag Cafe in the Western Addition does them up right, with cheese/lettuce/tomato/onion/pickle, plus some killer house-made fries and a good bun.

                      It's not a burger but maybe a seitan cheesesteak from one of the Jay's Cheesesteak locations would satisfy his craving. I always find one satisfying when I'm in a junk food/fast food/hot sandwich mood.

                      It's an adjustment for sure, but there's tons of good veg eating in this town. Good luck!

                      Jay's Cheesesteak 2
                      553 Divisadero, San Francisco, CA

                      Jay's Cheesesteak
                      3285 21st St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      Bean Bag Coffee House
                      601 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA

                      1. re: DeborahL

                        The cheesesteak idea is genius! Hadn't thought of that.

                        1. re: baseballfan

                          Hi again baseballfan. Had a couple last (admittedly unsolicited) thoughts on the veggie burger quest. I think if you and your son are looking for a veg burger that closely mimics a meat burger in texture and taste and appearance, you'll likely be disappointed. (I think that's what Boca burgers are aiming for, but I've never been a fan of them.) There are definitely fake meat products out there that are both delicious and reminiscent of their namesakes IMO (Morningstar sausage patties and bacon come to mind, Yves bologna), but in terms of a veggie burger--and perhaps vegetarian food in general--you might have more success (and enjoyment!) if you were on the hunt for food that tastes good and happens to be made from vegetables or soy products, rather than a stand-in for the meat version. OK, hopping off my soapbox now. Best of luck!

                          1. re: DeborahL

                            I've been doing tons of research and I think you are probably right. My son is determined to not eat meat which I respect completely but it has been a tough transition for him as he was quite the carnivore. I think it will be great in the long run since he really has started trying a lot of new foods because he is hungry!

                            1. re: baseballfan

                              If he's interested in dishes that look and taste like meat, he should try one of the Loving Hut outposts. I usually go to the one at Westfield Center, but there's a new branch on Irving. They have a lot of quasi-meat Chinese and other Asian options: "shrimp" stir fries and "chicken" dishes. Maybe fake pork too; I don't remember. Lots of vegetables too.

                              Minako has a whole vegan sushi section with options like delicious fake eel. We had a tasty bowl of vegan ramen there recently, and all the tofu dishes are wonderful.

                              I agree with DeborahL that usually I don't like fake meat (nothing worse than tempeh), and those fake chicken nuggets at Trader Joes are less healthy than real chicken would be. The best vegetarian food just is vegetarian: stir fries and dosas and chilaquiles.

                              Of course i'm not a vegetarian, so I eat vegetarian meals for health reasons and only if it tastes good. Someone making an ethical choice would likely be more forgiving of the nut cheeses at Gracias Madre than I am, and would care if the kitchen added a little fish sauce to the broth.

                              Minako Organic Japanese Restaurant
                              2154 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                              Gracias Madre
                              2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                              Loving Hut
                              524 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                              1. re: Windy

                                While I agree that fake meat is often lacking in flavor (and often highly processed and unhealthy), I think there's a distinction to be made between imitation meat and products made from soy.

                                Chik Patties, Tofu Pups, etc. are imitation meat products that are supposed to substitute for chicken and hot dogs. Tempeh, on the other hand, originated in Indonesia, has been around for hundreds of years, and isn't supposed to imitate anything.

                                Just a distinction, I don't like tempeh either though :)

                                1. re: tonyarosenews

                                  To be fair to tempeh, I tried it in Indonesia, and it was delicious. No resemblance to the shrink-wrapped stuff in the green box.

                  2. will post a full report soon, but i was really impressed with the veggie burger at Source. had a meaty consistency, and even had the color right.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: vulber

                      I look forward to hearing more vulber. I'd crossed Source off my list after reading a review that sounded like the place might not be worth checking out, or rather, like they're not doing anything so special that it'd be a place to visit over my standard favorites.

                      1. re: DeborahL

                        I can really build up a craving for the awesome burger at Source. It's definitely a contender for the best veggie burger in SF, especially if you order it with extra aioli.

                    2. Love the neatloaf at Anadua Fuaram Market and larkin SF. 60's style veggie, vegan food and cookies

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: stanbee

                        I liked that dish back when it was Dipti Nivas.

                        Ananda-Fuara Vegetarian
                        1298 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                      2. Yes, definately try Source. Best testure by far, fresh, not frozen.

                        1. Hi Baseballfan, I was interested to see your question because I am in a similar situation with my son--he saw Food, Inc. and stopped eating food with faces. I have been trying to cook my way out of this new development with little success. Have you found any go-to places or even products you can get at markets that have made your son very happy? I would love to find new options that are not pasta or pizza, that are good sources of protein and taste delicious, and especially that can be ordered at restaurants where his meat-eating brother will also be happy. We are near the Inner Richmond, but I would go some distance for this.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: wittamer

                            I feel your pain! Food Inc. was also the beginning for my son. My son recently moved back from Parkmerced to our home in San Ramon so this has really become my problem from a day to day dinner perspective. I also have 2 other children that eat meat so it has been a struggle. I can't say that I have had any brilliant ideas as my son is picky as well so that lets out a lot of things other vegetarians would eat.

                            He does a lot of pasta, pizza, caesar salads, bean and cheese quesadillas etc. If you have a Sprouts market near you, they have some good things and they are much more economical than Whole Foods.

                            Honestly, I have not solved this issue and unfortunately often find myself preparing 2 entrees which is a pain. I wish I had more positive suggestions and wish you luck with your group!

                            1. re: baseballfan

                              Sounds like your son needs to take a vegetarian cooking class and cook for all of you.

                              You might also look up Mark Bittman's Food Matters cookbook, which is focused on healthy eating especially whole grains, rather than meatless versions of meat entrees.

                              1. re: Windy

                                I actually posted here a little while ago looking for a vegetarian cooking class, but no luck! Thanks for your reponse, baseballfan--it's just good to know there are other people in the same boat, I guess. I hate making two meals--I feel like I spent my time since I had children finding meals we all could eat--and now they are all out the window.

                                1. re: wittamer

                                  I took a lesson on Thai vegetarian cooking with my daughter, as she went through that phase, and enjoyed it, the lesson not the phase.

                                  1. re: wittamer

                                    I am actually going to dinner soon at Manresa. They get their produce from Love Apple Farms who hosts different types of farming/cooking classes. This one is a little out there but it might help:


                            2. By far my favorite veggie burger in SF by is at The Plant Cafe Organic. There are three locations in the city, but I usually go to the one on the Embarcadero because it's close to my work. The flavor is amazing (topped with caramelized onions, leaf lettuce, and tomato aioli), and the color of the patty is slightly pink -- looks a lot like actual meat! I recommend adding avocado to the burger, too.

                              Also, I'd suggest getting a couple vegan/vegetarian cookbooks so that you don't have to cook two dinners. You can do so much more with main dishes than just pasta. (For example, last night I stuffed red peppers with black beans, quinoa, mango, onion, and jalapenos, and I served them with a creamy avocado cilantro sauce.) You posted a long time ago, so you've probably already adapted to your son's dietary choices. But I definitely suggest these cookbooks: The Vegan Table, Viva Vegan, and Veganomicon. Also, two of my favorite chefs offer cooking classes online if your son wants to learn more about how to cook without animal products. I used to take their classes in person at the Los Angeles location before I moved to SF. Go to www.sporkfoods.com. Good luck!

                              1. I had the same question about veggie burgers! I went to Lee's cause I didn't know what to do and surprise surprise it wasn't the best.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: potts

                                  I have only had the regular burger, which is great, as are the seasoned fries; the black bean burger done by this truck is well reviewed: