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We’ve noticed several Five Guys Burgers and Fries locations popping up in the greater Dallas area and decided we had to see what they were all about. Walking in, we were hit with the stark white and red of the very 1950s style decor. The service was what we would expect from the stereotypical happy 50s diner, too; friendly, smiling, and fast. The woman who worked with us even took the time to run us through the Five Guys Burgers and Fries method.

Peanuts are free, so help yourself while you consider the menu. Options here appear simple, with burgers, hot dogs, a veggie sandwich (cheese optional), or grilled cheese. But appearances aren’t always indicators, and when we got to the veggies, we froze. Already there is more on the menu for vegetarians than many burger places with three sandwich options. But what makes this more interesting is the control we had over our meals. Veggies are plentiful and you can have any or all that you want on your sandwich; even the grilled cheese.

Five Guys cheeseburger with grilled onions and mushroomsReminiscent of the chain’s starting point as a take out business, the food comes in a brown paper bag. The omnivore grabbed a cheeseburger with grilled onions, mushrooms and mayo. This comes standard with two hand-formed meat patties, but you can get a “little burger” with one patty if you aren’t starving. The cheese was running out onto the wrapper, so he instinctively grabbed a bit and ate it. Unfortunately, this cheese tastes like the wrapped American cheese singles from the grocery store. He tried the burger expecting something terrible, but was pleasantly surprised. The beef patties saved this burger. The meat is so incredibly greasy and delicious that it is almost easy to forget about the cheese. The patties literally dripped onto the table. Cooked to well-done, these are not the least bit tough or dry. In fact, this burger is surprisingly tender and juicy. The grilled onions and mushrooms are slightly sweet and very delicious, but honestly they absorb the grease and become an added texture. When you come in, skip the cheese and load a burger with toppings to make it your own.

Five Guys grilled cheese with mushroomsOf course, the vegetarian stayed away from the meat and opted for a grilled cheese. Expecting the typical kids’ meal of cheese and bread, she froze when the counter attendant asked what veggies she’d like on that. Toppings on a grilled cheese? Really? She went with mushrooms, mostly because that was the first option she saw when frantically searching the menu, but also because, well, mushrooms are just downright good. The grilled cheese here comes on an inside-out burger bun. The bun is grilled, just like any other, then the cheese and toppings go onto the “crust” parts and the grilled side stays out. We probably wouldn’t have known had it not been for the sesame seeds around the outside edges. Pretty smart thinking on that one. And the buns are thick, so it actually makes for a good sandwich. Unfortunately, we’re back to that pre-wrapped cheese flavor. Adding mushrooms helped, and they were delicious, but next time we will definitely need more veggies to counteract the cheese. Or we may just opt for the veggie sandwich. Anything seems to be possible here, so we’re glad to try again.

No matter what you get on your bun, when you come here, try the fries. Cooked in 100% peanut oil, these are amazing. A sign beside the register said the potatoes were from Hatch Farms in Washington, so not only did we get real potatoes (skins and everything, yum!) we knew whence they came. The Cajun fries are wonderful, but if you don’t like spice, go for Five Guys style.

While there is no veggie patty, the fresh, grilled vegetables, abundance of options and fresh cut fries will keep us coming back.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for another ride through cattle country.

Sometimes people just want a burger, there’s no getting around that. Even vegetarians enjoy the experience of opening our mouths a little too wide to sink our teeth into a toasted bun, toppings, and a juicy patty. But not every burger is created equal. We’ve run into a few awesome, and some awful, veggie burgers and thought we’d share what we found. If you agree, disagree, or have other information, please share. As always, if you have a place you recommend, let us know so we can try it out.

Red Robin: Veggie Burger

Known for its burgers, RR should also get our respect for the veggie burgers. Not only does this restaurant offer a veggie burger with a Gardenburger patty, it also offers the vegan Boca patty. And, as if two vegetarian patty options wasn’t enough, you can substitute either alternative on any burger at no additional charge. That’s right, Red Robin accommodates vegetarian and vegan diets without penalizing us for our choices.

The Whiskey River BBQ burger with a bocca patty and no cheese makes a delightful vegan dinner with enough food to share. Thin and crispy onion straws soften as the sweet BBQ sauce drips down the patty to the edge of a toasted bun.

Since the kitchen uses soy based oil to fry, the endless steak fries and panko-crisp onion rings offer perfect compliments to a great, and meatless burger.

Denny’s: Veggie Burger

Surprisingly good, Denny’s starts with an Amy’s Organics patty, then throws in mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach to make this a rather healthful burger. Well, healthful enough to counteract the scrumptious pepper jack cheese melted on the patty. They are open all night and appear to have the same menu throughout the country, so put this on your list of safe road trip stops.

Carl’s Jr.: Definitely an F-you Veggie Burger

We saw their “veg it” option and thought we’d give it a try with a quacamole burger. Boy were we disappointed. Pulling the meat off of the regular burger and charging the same price is not the best plan if you are trying to keep vegetarians in your dining room. Bun, lettuce, tomato, and sauce. That’s what we got. Not even the avocado that would have been on the regular version of this $6 burger. And the saddest part is, they put this on their website as a valid vegetarian option. How about when you sell half the product, the charge half the price? Just a thought, guys.

Burger King: Veggie Burger

We didn’t ask if this was made in house, but it’s pretty good either way. There are water chestnuts that give the patty added crunch, so that’s a little different, but we kind of like little texture surprises. The usual BK fixin’s go on top, and as always you get to make it your way, so this is a nice fast food burger option.

JG’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers: Veggie Burger

We only recently discovered this fun little burger joint that has been in business for 27 years. (Yes, we wondered how we missed it, too.) A sign on the soda machine boasts “Best burger in Dallas First Runner Up” and we can see why. The veggie burger comes with a wonderful vegan patty that holds together well and has incredible texture. If you enjoy cheese, that’s available, too. The bun is toasted with butter, so vegans should let them know to hold that when you order. You choose your toppings from a condiment bar we honestly thought was a salad bar when we walked in. While here, try the onion rings. Sweet onions encased in sweet batter push these near the dessert section, but we couldn’t get enough. And speaking of dessert, JG’s has Blue Bell ice cream and shakes! Regular burgers here are greasy and delicious, so keep this on your mixed group dining list.

Chili’s: Veggie Burger

The black bean patty is good if you like those, but we’re split here. The vegetarian dislikes them, the carnivore loves them, and the omnivore is indifferent. While it’s a veggie burger, it’s not our first choice. But, if you find yourself at Chili’s with a group, you know the menu offers at least something to eat.

BJ’s Brewhouse: Veggie Burger

Just like any burger, you get a TVP-based (according to our waitress) patty on a wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, pickle and mayo. There is garlic either in the patty or on the bun, so this is not a “make out later” option, unless your partner just loves garlic breath, but it’s quite good. A little dry, but we still recommend keeping the ketchup on the side because the dryness seems to make it better. Just try it and you’ll know what we mean. Served with beautiful steak fries, this is a very good veggie burger.

Jake’s Hamburgers: Veggie Burger

Jake’s makes all of their patties in house, and the black bean patty is no exception. This looks close to a real burger, but is still shaped a little to perfectly. This has great flavor and goes beyond what you expect from black beans. Of course, eating one of these next to someone holding the Atkins burger was a little funny, but it’s a great place for a mixed group.

Village Burger Bar: Veggie Burger

We tried the location in The Shops at Legacy and are so glad we did. This is by far our favorite burger. Instead of a veggie or black bean patty, the Portabello burger comes with a huge portabello mushroom cap on a toasted bun. We didn’t ask what they did to this mushroom, but it tasted incredible. And the burger is completely different from what we expected. Goat cheese and spinach are not obvious toppings for a burger, but they make this one a masterpiece. The shoestring potatoes are really good and just salty enough. If you like sweet potato fries, VBBar has some decent ones, but the shoestrings were the table favorites. Our neighbors’ onion rings smelled incredible, but we didn’t try any on this visit. We did, however, discover some yummy drinks in the mango margarita and watermelon mojito. This is a wonderful place for mixed groups, happy hour, or families. All of their burgers are great (even the meaty ones) and the atmosphere is extremely relaxed. Add this to the top of your list for the next time you crave a burger.

We’ve tried a few burger places and given our thoughts. Rather than taking our word for it, we hope you’ll be able to try a few. Now it’s your turn. Let us know where you have encountered the best, the worst and the most interesting veggie burger options.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for another ride through cattle country.

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