A good veggie burger is hard to find. Many people, vegetarians and vegans included, approach veggie burgers with great trepidation, as the end result is often lackluster. When purchasing store bought, frozen burgers, the result is often a rubbery, brown puck that is meant to taste like meat but instead tastes like wet, soggy cardboard. When dining out, one might find that many veggie burgers offered by local restaurants seem to be a bland amalgamation of beans and rice formed into in a messy, crumbling disc. Mill City Cafe (2205 California St. NE, Minneapolis) decided to put an end to the veggie burger debacle by creating a fantastic burger that is offered at the cafe as well as in take-home packs.
In contrast to store bought brands like Boca Burger that contain a long list of ingredients unrecognizable to most consumers, Mill City Cafe’s burgers are made of fresh ingredients like black beans, veggies, wild rice, mirepoix, cheese, and nuts. The burgers are neither rubbery like frozen store bought burgers nor do they crumble apart like many homemade burgers. These burgers maintain a solid shape that allows each ingredient in the burger to shine — one can see individual ingredients like bits of carrot or nuts that lend the burger structure without lending it a chunky consistency. The subtle seasoning of the burger compliments and enhances the flavor of the of veggies and legumes. Lackluster and bland this burger is not.
The burgers are made weekly (or more often due to demand) by Mill City Cafe owner Mandy Zechmeister. She believes that the freshness of the burgers as well as the emphasis she places on using locally sourced ingredients set the burger apart from other contenders. During their weekday lunch hour, Mill City Cafe serves their veggie burger topped with chipotle aioli and frico. The crispy parmesan chip and gentle spiceness of the aioli compliment the gently seasoned, thick patty. In addition to being offered on Mill City Cafe’s menu, Anchor Fish & Chips also serves Mill City’s burger. When Zechmeister was approached to provide the veggie burger for the Anchor’s menu, she jumped at the chance as she felt it would help foster a sense of community and collaboration in Northeast Minneapolis.
If you are unable to stop in during a weekday lunch hour for the burger, Mill City Cafe also sells their veggie burgers in frozen packs of 4 ($6). Simply heat up a tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat and cook each side until crispy (approximately 3 minutes on each side). Dress it up any way you prefer (though I think you can never go wrong topping a burger with a thick slice of cheddar and putting it on a toasted bun). You can also swing by Anchor Fish & Chips to taste the burger, but vegetarians and vegans beware — their menu states that all food items come into contact with meat products.
Learn more about this business in The Heavy Table’s Atlas of Ethical Eating and Drinking.