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Veggie burgers are getting some serious respect in NYC restaurants

Dirt Candy showed vegetables can be fun, and three restaurants - Superiority Burger, By Chloe and The NoMad Bar - are all vying to make a better veggie burger.
The Guac Burger at By ChloeProvided

Vegetarians in this city owe a lot to Amanda Cohen, the chef behind Dirt Candy who took vegetables beyond roasting and into the realms of dessert and fine dining. Since opening her original location back in 2008, she’s sparked a revolution among not just vegetarians but allcurious diners.

With current food trends — local, whole, cruelty-free — all neatly ticking the boxes of the vegetarian diet, new restaurants and big-name chefs are following in Dirt Candy’s footsteps, throwing out the old rules to make veggies more exciting than ever. And since it’s summer cookout season, everyone is working to create a better veggie burger.


Superior indeed. But, there's something to be said about the size - definitely more of a slider to me. #StillHungry #EATINGNYC

A photo posted by Eating My Way Through NYC (@eatingnyc) on

Brooks Headley isn’t ahousehold name yet, but hisSuperiority Burgerpop-ups earned enough attention to merit a brick-and-mortar spot in no less a space than Dirt Candy’s old digs (430 E. Ninth. St.) The former Del Posto chef is serving tofu wraps, a burnt broccoli salad and whimsical dessert specials worth saving room for. But it’s the quinoa-based veggie burger that’s every bit as savory — and several carbon footprints more virtuous than its dead cow counterpart — that keeps earning the restaurant’s name every night.


By Chloe(185 Bleecker St.), new this week, is the first fast-casual concept from ESquared Hospitality, the team behind The Wayfarer cocktail bar, Horchata and the BLT restaurants. They entrusted the project to chef Chloe Coscarelli, a lifelong vegetarian and vegan for 10 years with a menu that makes clear she regrets nothing. Her Classic Burger is a tempeh-lentil-chia-walnut patty with pickles, onion, beet ketchup and the restaurant’s own “special sauce,” while the Whiskey BBQ mixes smoky Portobello mushrooms and seitan, then adds a smear of bourbon barbecue sauce. There’s shiitake bacon in the mac ‘n’ cheese, organic cocktails, and a totally dairy-, egg- and gluten-free dessert menu of ice creams and offbeat treats like kale cookies.


Also this week,Grubstreet dropped some intelthatThe NoMad Baris getting into the veggie burger business. Eleven Madison Park alum Daniel Humm managed to squeeze a whole acre of farmland into the patty alone: quinoa, lentils, mushrooms, corn, chickpeas, onions, and garlic. It’s then surrounded by assertive supporting players like curry powder, pepperjack cheese and kewpie aioli, yielding a patty that's “surprisingly deep in flavor.” A fine-dining veggie burger that can hold its own against a lauded original coming from the same kitchen? It’s a good time to be meat-free.

 

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