Vegetarians, listen up. How many of you are sick of picking up newspapers proclaiming to have compiled the ultimate list of Melbourne's best burgers, only to be met with lists of Wagyu beef, free range chicken and fried bacon? How often have you thought about compiling your own list of top-notch meat-free burgers, dripping with tofu, fried cheese and veggie patties? Don't worry – we've done the work for you. Here's our round up of 11 of the best vegie burgers in Melbourne. (Or if you're in a carnivorous mood, check out our five favourite meaty Melbourne burgers).
HUXTABURGER | VARIOUS LOCATIONS
Oh, Huxtaburger, how we vegetarians love you so! Sure, your slogan is 'hot beef, cold beer', but as long as you keep serving those Sondra burgers – all thick organic tofu patty, lettuce, sliced tomato and sesame soy mayo in a brioche bun – we can't find it in our hearts to complain about a thing. Coupled with your crinkle cut chips and milkshakes, Sondra is pretty much a slice of heaven. We wouldn't change a thing except, perhaps, this: please start a home delivery service so we can beat our hangovers the best way we know how from the comfort of bed. Oh wait, you have!
THE BEER & BURGER BAR | RICHMOND
With the footy finals around the corner, Swan Street's Beer & Burger Bar is gearing up for its busiest month of the year. It's a great spot for a pre-match bite, what with its big screen TVs, comfy couches, great selection of drinks (on tap and by bottle), and some of the best burgers in Melbourne. As the name suggests, burgers are the speciality here and, while meat eaters are accommodated with plenty to choose from (like salmon and pork among trusty favourites), there's a revolving menu of vegetarian options. The Veg Out burger, topped with haloumi cheese, tomato and lettuce, never lets us down.
EDINBURGH CASTLE | BRUNSWICK
One of the inner north's best-kept bargains is the 2-for-1 meals at Brunswick's Edinburgh Castle each Friday between midday and 6pm. But I'm dining solo, I hear you say. Never mind – just means you can gorge yourself on two of the best vegie burgers in town (haloumi in this case). A thick slab of crumbed cheese is accompanied by rocket, tomato and mayo on a homemade bun. No frills attached, but who needs them when your lunch tastes this good? Another cash-saving tip: all burgers are just $10 between midday and 4pm from Monday to Thursday.
BEATBOX KITCHEN | VARIOUS LOCATIONS
With so many food trucks competing for attention (and council permits) around town, it can be easy to forget who started this no-end-in-sight phenomenon. Raph Rashid's Beatbox Kitchen was born from a desire to see US-style burgers on the streets of Melbourne – and he hasn't disappointed with some of the best burgers going round. While the signature Raph burger may take most of the headlines, vegetarians hope the Shroom Burger (Portobello mushroom, cos lettuce, gouda cheese, tomato, onion and stereo sauce) never leaves us.
LORD OF THE FRIES | VARIOUS LOCATIONS
What with its ever-expanding list of stores, it's safe to call Lord of the Fries a Melbourne institution. By now, you know the drill – everything served is vegetarian, right down to the 'chicken' and 'beef' burgers (available in two sizes – 'mini' and 'big'). The Original Burger (patty, cheese, pickles, onion, lettuce, mayo, mustard, ketchup) never fails to deliver the goods, but we normally steer for the Parma Burger (chicken patty, soy bacon, Napoli sauce, cheese, onion) – so good, we hope that list of stores includes a branch next door to us.
THE MEATBALL & WINE BAR | VARIOUS LOCATIONS
Thought The Meatball & Wine Bar – which now includes three restaurants in the CBD, Collingwood and Richmond – was all about, erm, meatballs? You're half right and half wrong. Meatballs may be the focus, but if you don't want them served on a plate, you can opt for a trio of sliders, served in mini brioche buns and the sauce of your choice (Italian tomato, white creamy, pesto salsa verde). The vegetarian meatball option of cauliflower, chickpeas and coriander is so good, it may just convert your meat-eating buddies.
1000 £ BEND | Melbourne CBD
Multipurpose city venue, 1000 £ Bend, has grown its menu in recent times. Once home to a tiny list of burgers and snacks, the café/gallery/cinema now also serves quesadillas and an awesome breakfast selection seven days a week. But, call us old school, we can't go past the saganaki burger – one of the Bend's original favourites and one of our favourite Melbourne vegie burgers. It's a generous slab of grilled saganaki, sandwiched in a brioche bun and accompanied by rocket, tomato, caramelised onion, cucumber and tzatziki. Drop by on tightarse Tuesday for $9 burgers (and $2.50 pots) from 5pm.
PURPLE PEANUTS | Melbourne CBD
Ever wandered past Purple Peanuts at lunchtime and wondered why there's a queue of famished office workers stretching halfway down Collins Street? The answer is easy – this tiny Japanese café is one of the city's best-kept secrets, with some of its best vegie burgers to boot. Look beyond the cabinets of sushi (white and brown rice), rice balls and salads and chow down on the tofu vegie burger instead. The house-made patty is packed with tofu, beans, carrot, oats, sake, sesame and ginger, and it's served on a Turkish bread roll with salad and teriyaki sauce. Yum.
LOCAL TAPHOUSE | ST KILDA
St Kilda's Local Taphouse describes itself as 'a European inspired neighbourhood tavern', and it's not off the mark. The gastropub impresses with a New Orleans-style dining room, a cosy basement bar and a rooftop terrace – not to mention arguably the best craft beer selection in town. The menu is all about quality pizzas, burgers and, for your meat-loving dining companion, steaks and seafood. There's only one vegie burger on offer, but it's a good'un – Portobello mushroom, grilled haloumi, beetroot relish and basil pesto. Make sure you leave room for the Taphouse's famous cheese platter – trust us.
CORNISH ARMS | BRUNSWICK
When the East Brunswick Club – home to some of Melbourne's most convincing non-meat parmas and burgers – shut up shop in early 2012, it was just as much of a loss to the city's vegetarian community as it was to our live music scene. Fortunately for us, the chefs shifted across the suburb and now call Sydney Road's Cornish Arms Hotel home. There are three vegan burgers on the menu, including the spicy lentil and vegan 'cheez'. Our favourite is the 'chicken' burger crumbed in herbs and spices and served with facon, vegan cheese, tomato, ranch sauce and chipotle aioli. Drop by on Monday nights and Saturday afternoons for cheaper prices.
I can't believe it's not meat! Vegie burger at the Cornish Arms. Image Credit: Facebook
TRAMWAY HOTEL | FITZROY NORTH
From the outset, Fitzroy North's Tramway Hotel is the type of pub our parents used to tell us about: unpretentious, comfortable and the type of place where the barman remembers your name. There's a great selection of beers on tap and, just as impressive, a generous selection of Melbourne's best vegie burgers among the mainstays. The vegan-friendly quinoa burger is seasoned with cumin and coriander and topped with hummus and basil – and if that's not your thing, check out the new addition of king brown mushroom with almondnaisse, lettuce, tomato and red onion. Nom!
Editor's note: Bangers about burgers? Check out our round up of Melbourne's best burgers and sliders, our verdict on the Royale Brothers burger, and our behind the scenes look at the making of the Merrywell Burger. If you hadn't already picked up on it, we take our burgers pretty seriously here at TUL!
We also know that some of you reading this article may be on the hunt for more vego oprions—here's a link to our round-up of Melbourne's 11 best restaurants for vegetarians (many of which do vegan options too!).
Main Image Credit: Vegan Sandra