A Meat Eater’s Guide to Vegetarian Burgers in Hawai‘i
5 veggie patties from O‘ahu restaurants.
I am an unabashed omnivore. I grew up eating my stepfather’s wild game that was butchered and ground on our kitchen counter. But I’ve also had stints cooking for vegetarians and vegans, and I’ve grown to love what a well-made vegetable can do for any dish. Veggie burgers, if done right, can fill a craving. Here are five Honolulu restaurant veggie patties worth trying. And don’t worry—they’re not attempting to imitate meat.
Square Barrels’ Veggie Burger, $15.50
Meat Eater Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Photos: Emily Benton
Square Barrels, a self-proclaimed “craft burgers” spot downtown, offers a veggie burger on a buttery brioche bun, dressed with coleslaw, thinly sliced cucumber and melted Swiss cheese. The patty makes for a stacked burger with a meaty bite. Though it’s packed with ingredients—beets, tofu, black beans, mushrooms—I only tasted the black beans. I ordered it with a side of rice bran oil french fries, but I won’t judge if you choose the other fryer option—pig fat!
1001 Bishop St., Suite 108, squarebarrels.com
The Counter’s Sprouted Veggie, $11.50
Meat Eater Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The Counter, another burger joint known more for its beef, did not disappoint. I opted for the Sprouted Veggie over the Impossible Burger, because I do not like fake meat. I like veggies, and the Sprouted Veggie delivered plenty. While the ingredients are not mentioned on the menu, the patty appears to be a mixture of chickpeas, red peppers, onions and black beans. The patty is joined by roasted red peppers, sprouts, red onion, Dijon mustard and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette on a wheat bun. The whole thing was tasty, as were the sweet potato fries I chose for my side. My meal would have been vegan had I not dipped my fries in horseradish aioli. Oops.
4211 Wai‘alae Avenue, Kāhala Mall, order.thecounter.com
Sprout Sandwich Shop’s The Sproutwich, $10.50
Meat Eater Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I expected the sandwich shop’s namesake, The Sproutwich, to be as good as the meat-eater options on the menu (of which I’m a fan). But because this patty was 80% or more black beans, and because Sprout is generous with its portions, I felt like I was eating a whole can of them. The sprouts, barbecue sauce, cilantro lime aioli, tomato, lettuce and toasted ciabatta bread helped round out the flavor, though. It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t wowed.
1154 Koko Head Ave., sproutsandwichshop.com
Zippy’s Vegi-Tofu Patty, $9.75
Meat Eater Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
On a previous visit, I tried the Korean tofu plate to much delight, so I had high hopes for Zippy’s new Vegi-Tofu Patty. The burger’s primary ingredient is tofu with a smattering of carrots, mushrooms and green onions inside. I assume Zippy’s makes its own grilled tofu patty, but the consistency reminded me more of frozen, processed brands. Perhaps with cheese and more condiments it would have been better, though I did pay $2 extra for sautéed mushrooms on top. In the end, I caved and ordered a roasted turkey plate to finish out my meal.
1222 South King St., zippys.com
SEE ALSO: VegFest O‘ahu 2019
Beet Box Café’s Hello Burger, $12.75
Meat Eater Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The Hello Burger welcomed my taste buds with a crunchy fried beet patty that meshed well with garlic aioli, Dijon mustard, arugula, pickled onions, cucumbers and feta (extra $1.50) on a whole wheat bun. The verdict? Wherever you live, this burger is worth the drive.
46 Ho‘olai Street, Suite A, Kailua, thebeetboxcafe.com