Where's the Beef?

Chris Edwards

In a city packed with steakhouses and burger joints, the search for good vegetarian fare isn’t easy. That doesn’t mean that it’s not there — in fact, some of those same famed burger joints offer delicious and healthful alternatives to their beef patties. Whether you prefer your veggie burger brimming with black beans or crammed with corn, we’ve found five of the tastiest options in town.

Big Daddy’s Burger Bar
Sure, at Big Daddy’s you could order a ground chuck burger, turkey burger, or even a buffalo burger, but the oversize bean burger competes with the best. Stack on the toppings a la carte or order up the Cantina 1511 Burger, a Mexican-inspired bean burger heaped high with green chiles, avocados, chipotle ranch, and cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
1626 East Blvd., 704-714-4888; 15105A John J. Delaney Dr., 704-919-2700

Lupie’s Cafe
Slide into a booth at this neighborhood restaurant, where sweet tea comes in Mason jars, waitresses call you "honey," and old black-and-white photos dot the walls. Since the café is famous for its chili, ask your server to pile the vegetarian version onto your veggie burger and cross your fingers the oversize onion bun will hold the hearty fare.
2718 Monroe Rd., 704-374-1232
101 Old Statesville Rd., 704-948-3959

Sir Edmond Halley’s Restaurant & Freehouse
Yes, the mixture of beans and spices in this so-called "famous black bean veggie burger" is tasty. And yes, the perfectly melted provolone cheese topped with a whole wheat Kaiser bun blends perfectly with the creamy burger. But what makes this dish worth the trip is the mound of salty, crispy onions on top, adding crunch and flavor to each bite. 4151 Park Rd., 704-525-2555

The Counter
At this build-your-own-burger joint you can get pretty much whatever you want on your veggie patty. Of course, the patty itself is made with black beans, rice, mushrooms, cranberries, carrots, onions, zucchini, and numerous other vegetables, so you may want to keep the toppings simple. Our suggestion? Try the herbed goat cheese spread for a smooth and savory finish to each bite.
4310 Sharon Rd., 704-365-1922

131 Main
Don’t be shocked when you bite into this burger—its center is a dark, red color that looks authentically meaty. The deep color comes from the beets used to make the thick rice-based patty. Topped in rich, melted havarti cheese and served on a
buttery bun with a side of rice, this burger is popular because of the semi-sweet flavor from its soy glaze.
1315 East Blvd., 704-343-0131