Post updated: Feb 2017.
Burgers have been bang on trend for a while but now vegan burgers are taking over London. In 2016 I joined the burger bandwagon and tried vegan burgers wherever I could find them in London. It’s somewhat uncharacteristic compared to my usual food choices, but those that know me will also realise that if I have a notion, I run with it.
This post is on London’s burgers but I have props for many other places: Mono and the 13th Note in Glasgow where I first fell in love with vegan burgers, The Auld Hoose in my hometown Edinburgh, notorious for portion sizes and toppings, and of course Nottingham establishment Annie’s Burger Shack, where every single one of their 32 (yup, 32!) burgers can be made vegan or vegetarian!
So here’s the vegan burgers I’ve sampled so far in London, not in any particular order or rated – that’s almost as dangerous as trying to eat my way round so many burgers!
POMODORO E BASILICO, BRICK LANE, E1 6QL
This small Italian vegan venture is a firm favourite among London’s vegans. From humble beginnings as a supperclub host to a regular stall in Brick Lane, chef Sara serves up tasty homemade comfort food including pizza, donuts and of course burgers. You can choose from: ‘The Good’, ‘The Bad’ and eh, ‘The Jack’ (filled with trendy jackfruit of course) plus a new ‘Unicorn’ burger that is more like a dessert. ‘The Good’ is by far my favourite. This seitan ‘beef’ burger patty in question appeared small but on presentation, inside a soft, seeded bun packed with spinach, lettuce and tomato, it was succulent, full of taste and filling. The tangy beetroot ketchup, carrot ‘bacon’ and creamy cashew cheddar toppings were the pièce de résistance and firmly put this high in my burger ratings. The bad is a seitan schnitzel with mushroom sauce and my favourite bun – the charcoal. At £7 these are some of the better value vegan burgers around. Hand cut chips , cheese sticks and deep-fried homemade mozzarella are also available and the friendly welcome you get from Sara and the team show that the food is made with love.
MILDRED’S, SOHO, CAMDEN & KING’S CROSS
Before moving to London I would make it my perogative to visit Mildred’s in Soho during every visit. Most times I’d battle with myself to order something different but 9 times out of 10 I’d go for a burger as I knew how insanely good they are. There’s three burgers available – two vegan, one veggie. On my most recent visit to the new King’s Cross branch, I opted for the tofu and lentil burger, packed full of goodness and flavour from the puy lentil and tofu blend, topped with leaves and carefully balanced in a soft, herbed roll. It was exceptionally filling, but that might have been to do with the three sides and bottle of wine shared between two… The other vegan option is a Polish burger of cannellini bean and beetroot served with gherkins in a foccacia which I’ve had in Soho. The burgers come solo at £7 (£8 with vegan cheese), so sides such as sweet potato wedges or chargrilled brocoli have to be ordered separately. You won’t be disappointed by a burger at Mildred’s – or indeed any of their grub.
BURGER BEAR, PECKHAM, STOKE NEWINGTON & OLD STREET
Burger Bear are taking over the London burger scene, now with residencies in three pubs across town. I tweeted owner Tom to ask if the veggie burgers were vegan without the cheese and yoghurt, as many as binded with egg or in buns glazed with milk, and was delighted to hear that they were about to start vegan cheese & yoghurt alternatives. However, when I bounced down to Old Street and was told they didn’t have the substitutes (they’d been sourced but not bought apparently) I almost missed out completely as they use glazed brioche. Luck was on my side though as they had one white bun left – hangry tantrum averted! The burger was clearly homemade – a combo of kidney beans, tomato and coriander mainly. The light, fluffy bun was packed with lettuce, red onion, tomato, sliced avocado (amazing touch) and lathered with mustard and Holy Fuck chilli sauce which I’d requested as replacement for the yoghurt. At £10 it’s a rather pricey burger, plus £3 for fries, but the taste is up there. It’s a bit of a messy eat (although not a patch on the meat ones I witnessed being devoured) so make sure you have plenty of napkins!
VEGAN CROSS (Vx), KING’S CROSS
The Vx Burger is made from a thin compressed soy & wheat patty, reminiscent of what you’ve be served at a barbeque, topped with salad, gherkins and for an extra 50p, vegan cheese. Vegan Cross is all about vegan junk food and the burger certainly delivers on that. Oozing with ketchup and mayonnaise and topped with gherkins, inside a white seeded bun it’s reminiscent of anything you’d get in a fast food joint. The burger isn’t huge and it’s mainly packed with salad but it is tasty. You don’t go here to get a tofu burger or something blended with quinoa! It’s straight up dirty eating. A recent addition has been the Philly – an indulgent blend of burger and cheese toastie which wasn’t available when I was in, otherwise that might’ve rated a bit higher in my hunt for London’s top vegan burger. At £5.50 it’s one of the cheaper burgers but still quite pricey for what you’re getting but if vegan junk food is your thing, this is the place for you.
222 VEGGIE VEGAN, KENSINGTON
Self-proclaimed as ‘London’s best vegan food’ 222 does not disappoint with their unique burger. The combination of tofu, soya mince and tomato in a soft but firm patty, wedged inside a wholemeal bun, is definitely one of my favourite burgers in London. The burger itself is quite soft, but not crumbly, and perfectly balanced by the crunch of the bun. There is tomato through the patty, giving it a warming red colour, and it’s topped with their house tomato sauce which I could lather over most dishes! My only criticism would be that the filling to bun ratio wasn’t great – I love a burger stacked so high, with salad and other extras on top of the burger, that you have to ponder hard and long about how to eat it, or at least how to retain an ounce of dignity whilst doing so! However you can just add the side salad to the burger, which also gives it a nice mixed texture. One of the highlights is undoubtedly the chunky skin on chips that come on the side, served with an absolutely dreamy tomato sauce and vegan sour cream combo.
VEG BAR, HERNE HILL/BRIXTON
The Fat Gay Vegan burger, or FGV, was co-created by the notable vegan blogger of the same name. It is a monumental burger for sure, and epitomises the same vegan junk food scene as per the burger at Vx. Styled on the famous Big Mac, you are served two very meaty looking and tasting meat-free patties in a triple layered sesame bun packed full of lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and ‘special sauce’ served with Cajun fries. Despite it being a ‘junk food’ option it was certainly more filling that anything you’d get served in a greasy chain restaurant. For £11.50 it is not the best value vegan burger in town and my preference is towards the more gourmet style burgers but again if you love vegan junk food, you’ll love the FGV. The other dishes available at VegBar, including the wings and mac cheese, are insanely good and I’m more inclined to have them when I visit – but this post is all about the burgers!
BONNES FRITES, VARIOUS LOCATIONS
I happened upon Bonnes Frite by chance one evening in May 2016 at The Lexington where they had a residency. Seeing that their puy lentil, chestnut mushroom, quinoa & spinach burger could be veganised (with a non -brioche bun, no Brie or dijonaise) I jumped right in. It was perhaps one of the best vegan burgers I’ve had! The party was soft on the inside, crisp on the outside & packed full of flavour and texture. The quinoa isn’t mentioned on the menu but they should as it as it adds an extra special dimension to the burger and will be a high selling point for many, especially those not keen on mushroom burgers which is an ingredient barely detectable. The handcut frites are divine and make this an even more worthy vegan burger. At £7 a burger, £3 for chips it’s one of the more reasonably priced options out there. They pop up in different locations intermittently follow them on Twitter to be first in line for wherever is next!
CAMPBELL’S CANAL CAFE, CAMDEN
Campbell’s is situated in the former home of hippie haunt, inSpiral, which did a notoriously lush mushroom and hazelnut burger topped with barleygrass mayo and salads (with a raw version available inside a cabbage leaf). Campbell’s however, whilst retaining some inSpiral staples such as the salads and the juice bar, have mixed up the menu and replaced said burger with a fairly middle of the road patty. However this is topped with a tangy tomato sauce, loads of salad and is in a nice crisp seeded bun plus tasty chunky chips. It’s a decent safe option however it’s pipped for me by their tofu fish ‘n’ chips which is super tasty! It’s also reasonably priced at Apparently a new menu is launching next week (late May 2016) so I’m intrigued to see what’s on it. Hopefully another burger so I can sample some more and update this post!
HANDMADE BURGER CO., WEMBLEY (and UK-wide)
This was one of the few chains I could find that has confirmed vegan options and has been approved by The Vegan Society. The downside is that there is only one branch in London – all the way out in Wembley – but the good news for any non-London based readers is that they have outlets across the UK, with a heavy presence in the midlands where they started. Kitted out with industrial décor, it’s most definitely a chain but a very friendly and welcoming one. The menu boasts over 40 burgers to choose from including 5 vegan of the 7 veggie options. I’ve only tried the Mex-Veg but absolutely loved it. Really delicious burger of falafel, sweet potato and herbs coated in crunchy breadcrumbs topped with a generous portion of avocado, tomato, lettuce and the all important diced chillies and onions, all wedged in a light seeded bun. My only thought was that it could have been spicier (always!) but then there are two bottles of hot sauce: Mexican green chilli and roasted chilli pepper on each table, that are vegan. At £7-8 just for a burger then £3+ for chips (which can easily be shared between two) it’s an average price. They also offer smaller burgers if you want something lighter or more affortable – but only one option is vegan – as well as bunless burgers for those who don’t want to carb up.
THE FULL NELSON, DEPTFORD
Run by the same awesome team at the nearby Waiting Room, The Full Nelson is 100% about vegan junk food and boy, do they do it well! With four burgers on offer at £6 each some tough decisions have to be made. The Sith is undoubtedly my favourite – a generous seitan burger slathered in homemade Deptford death sauce, Sriracha mayo, spicy cheese, onions and jalapeños. The cripsy fried ‘chicken’ Colonel is also worth a look it although I personally find the mayo a bit creamy but could ask for it with less. It could be said that a burger is only as good as the sides available meaning that these ones are absolutely kick ass! You’d be foolish to miss the chilli cheese fries or the mac cheese (£4 each). In fact, all the sides are banging so make sure you arrive hungry! The lighting is pretty low hence the poor quality photo – you’ll just have to try it to understand how good it is 🙂
BREWDOG, CAMDEN, SHOREDITCH AND SOHO
Hail Seitan is by far one of the best burger names out there from one of the UK’s biggest brewers (which also does a decent range of vegan beers). The burger certainly lives up to the name with a juicy BBQ seitan burger that has been known to fool meatheads. Topped with hummus, tomato chutney and crispy kale consideration has certainly gone into what vegans might actually want to eat. It’s a bit of a beast so be prepared to get a bit messy eating this one. The wholemeal bun is really good and complements the ingredients perfectly and doesn’t leave you full and bloated. At £8 (plus £2 for fries) it’s an average price for pub grub and a great option if you’re looking for somewhere to eat with omni friends. I lost my phone just hours after visiting so grabbed this pic from the awesome Quarry Girl‘s instagram.
MOOSHIES, BRICK LANE
Bringing even more vegan options to Brick Lane is relative newbie Mooshies. Set in a colourful, chilled, corner cafe you can choose from three regular burgers and one special, at a reasonable £6-7 plus more for sides. Between us we tried the Fillet-om-phish which is battered aubergine with seaweed and vegan tartare sauce and the What’s your beef? quinoa and black bean burger. The aubergine was perfectly crisp and whilst it wasn’t particularly fishy it was certainly tasty – although it was dripping with oil which was kind of off putting and a little less tartare would have been my preference. The quinoa burger was smothered in vegan cheese and caramelised onions and is a decent protein-packed option. The chick ‘p bites (£4) are most definitely worth a shout, as are the cheezy chips although the latter are pretty pricey for what they are (£4.50). The cafe also serves cakes, desserts and is licensed meaning you can make a full evening out of it.
THE VURGER CO., VARIOUS LOCATIONS
The Vurger Co. have been popping up in London since 2016 and provide not one but four options for vegans to salivate over. At their most recent residency at The Pill Box Kitchen in Bethnal Green I tucked into their BBQ Nut and Sprinkle of Green. The BBQ Nut combines sprouted brown rice, walnuts and black beans, topped with BBQ sauce and avocado. The green burger is matcha-loaded with cannellini beans, kale and broccoli. The latter lacked the flavour and punch that I like in a burger (maybe that’s just matcha though…). The nut burger had a nice crunch and was complemented by the avo. I would’ve smothered this one in chilli sauce and seasoning if I could. I’ve heard great things about the shroom melt so will try that out next time – ordering all four at once would’ve been excessive… All burgers are served on really tasty seeded vegan brioche. At £6.95 they are reasonably priced with sides of slaw, macaroni cheese and sweet potato wedges also available.
I update this post as and when but still have the following burgers on my hit list:
- Big V London at The Veggie Table, Borough: I’ve had this before but not since it’s become 100% vegan.
- Farmacy London, Bayswater: west London’s latest healthy haunt.
- Black Cat Cafe, Hackney: famed for vegan food across east London.
- Arancini Brothers, Dalston: voted top London burger by FatGayVegan!
Do let me know below what your favourite vegan burgers in London, or elsewhere, are!