Guest blogger and vegetarian Sue Gordon writes for Bucks County Taste and Hunterdon County Taste on eating vegetarian in Bucks County and nearby.
by Sue Gordon,
No matter where you go in Bucks County, you’re seldom far from an elegant, upscale restaurant just waiting to dazzle your taste buds. Yet despite our culinary riches, sometimes you just gotta’ have a burger. And you’re not alone.
Did you know that, on average, Americans eat three hamburgers a week? That means that the 600,000+ residents of Bucks County could potentially consume 1,800,000 hamburgers in the next 7 days. Yikes! And that eye-popping number is just a tiny fraction of the estimated national total of nearly 50 billion burgers eaten per year.
Now, if burgers grew on trees, that wouldn’t be as big a concern. But in Bucks, as elsewhere, the majority of burgers are purchased in fast food restaurants, and the health and environmental consequences of raising and consuming beef on an industrial scale are well documented.
There are, of course, finer restaurants that serve finer burgers, and many home cooks still use quality ground beef to make their own. But choosing quality ingredients doesn’t erase the health concerns of overindulging in red meat, nor insure that the animals on your plate were treated any better than those destined for the $1 value meals.
So what’s a conscientious consumer to do when craving a big, juicy hamburger? Fear not. I’m here to convince you that burger-lust is one of the easiest cravings to satisfy; in fact, converting from meat burgers to veggie burgers is often the first step people take when they want to add more plant-based foods to their diet.
And fortunately for us, a growing number of Bucks County chefs now include excellent veggie burgers on their menus.
I do have a personal theory about why people like burgers so much. It’s not just about the meat, it’s about the fixin’s: the “secret sauce,” the lettuce and tomatoes and pickles and onions and mushrooms and cheese, and on and on…
Burgers are one of the few foods that can be customized to personal taste by everyone at the table. And generally, the flavors that people love include the “char” from the pan or grill, the fat seeping into the roll and the gooey stuff on top. Happily, each of these tastes can be easily duplicated with plant-based ingredients. Really!
If you are considering exploring the world of beef-less burgers, here are a few of my favorite Bucks County spots where the veggie burgers are given the same loving attention as their beefy cousins.
Let’s start with Penn Taproom in Doylestown, a lively and decidedly meat-centric pub but with several good veggie options, most notably salads and a dynamite homemade Veggie Burger. This recipe, unlike many restaurant options, doesn’t try to mimic meat; rather it maximizes the taste and textures of its plant-based ingredients including quinoa, black beans, spinach, onions and roasted red peppers, with melted provolone optional. It’s served like the Taproom’s regular burgers with lettuce and tomato, and accompanied with spicy house-made Chesapeake Bay chips. Delicious.
Doylestown’s popular Hickory Kitchen, known for its award-winning barbecue, dusts off the welcome mat for vegetarians, too, with multiple meatless options including delicious wraps, salads and two meatless burgers. The first is a fresh-tasting all vegetable patty made with ingredients like carrots, green beans, corn, and soy. The second is a luscious black bean burger with a Tex-Mex flare thanks to diced chilis and southwestern spices in the mix. And for those who really like to “have it their way,” Hickory Kitchen offers the ultimate in “burger-customization.” There are seven cheese choices (although none are vegan) 15 condiments–including Vegenaise (a vegan mayonnaise), and eight barbecue sauces, all of which are available at no extra charge on any burger or wrap.
Tuesday is All American Burger Night at Caleb’s American Kitchen in Lahaska, and yes, the menu includes a delicious house-made faro and black-bean burger. With its meaty taste and texture, this burger is just waiting to be dressed with your choice of 4 different sauces including pineapple barbecue, sriracha or balsamic glaze. Next, you can add toppings like roasted onion, blue cheese or avocado and side your creation with grilled romaine or sweet potato fries for a truly gourmet and guiltless burger experience.
A bit down the road in Peddler’s Village, the Buttonwood Inn entices hungry, hungry vegetarians with a half-pound black bean, feta and quinoa burger. It can be ordered plain (but why would you?) or dressed up as Little Italy with sun-dried tomato & olive tapenade, cherry peppers, Italian greens and provolone; Mediterranean style with tomato and lettuce, feta, tzatziki sauce and red onion. All burgers at Buttonwood Inn are accompanied by your choice of fries, dill potato salad, coleslaw or fruit salad.
Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to several other special Bucks County area restaurants that include veggie burgers on their menus. Although I have not personally sampled these burgers, I fully intend to remedy that situation as soon as possible. I’d love to know which of these veggie burgers you’ve enjoyed, and if there are other eateries I should try.
- Bowman’s Tavern, Washington’s Crossing: Chick pea burger with whole grains
- Issac Newton’s, Newtown: Fancy Burger, garden burger with shitake mushrooms and brie.
- Triumph Brewery, New Hope: Quinoa burger
- Lambertville Station, Lambertville, NJ: Black bean and basmati rice burger
- Golden Pheasant Inn, Erwinna, (Tavern menu) Balsamic marinated portabella burger
Updated 12/16/15 to remove Basically Burgers which closed in November 2015.
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