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A Meat Eater’s Guide To Veggie Burgers

Everything you need to know before ordering some of Indy’s most smashable vegetarian and vegan burgers.

From black bean to beet to Impossible and Beyond, faux ground beef is finally making its way onto Indy’s mainstream menus. But are they fooling anyone—particularly the newly vegetarian and vegans-for-the-day? We tasted a herd of fake-meat burgers and rated them on a scale of garden-variety to meatless marvel.

Bru Burger Bar — Impossible Burger

Convincingly gooey vegan cheese and vegan mayo dress this fully loaded yet tidy burger made with the dead-on beef replacement. Bru applies its burger finesse to the star of its veggie options (it also serves a garbanzo-and-mushroom patty as well as a black-bean burger). Tucked inside a soft bun warmed to the perfect soft-to-crusty ratio, it doesn’t have many bells or whistles but could easily pass for the real deal. $13. 410 Massachusetts Ave., 317-635-4278; 12901 Old Meridian St., Carmel, 317-975-0033; 350 Westfield Rd., Noblesville, 317-764-2510; 2499 Perry Crossing Way, Plainfield, 317-268-1077

BELIEVABILITY 5/5
TASTE 4/5

10th Street Diner — 10th Street Burger

The plant-based burgers at this neighborhood vegan diner have a distinct sizzle that borders on caramelized crunch. Co-owner Will Holmes makes his own meat-free patties that get smashed into free-form discs and seared until the edges crisp up. The squishy center gives the burger an overall instability, but the mess gets upstaged by the flavor—slightly sweet and smoky—vamped up with tangy, creamy sauce. $9.50. 3301 E. 10th St., 463-221-1255

BELIEVABILITY 3/5
TASTE 4/5

Burger Study — Ivy League

The St. Elmo Steak House spinoff uses the Beyond Burger brand (made with plant proteins and sold in grocery stores) in its plant-based, soy-free, gluten-free patty. Crammed inside a grilled vegan sourdough bun, the imitation stuff easily passes for real beef, and the Ivy League—with thought-out toppings of feta crumbles, lightly dressed cucumber noodles, and a smear of roasted garlic-tomato sauce—belongs in the same class as its fellow gourmet burgers. $13. 28 W. Georgia St., 317-777-7770

BELIEVABILITY 4/5
TASTE 3/5

Go with the Ivy League at Burger StudyJulia Spalding

Kuma’s Corner — Heartwork

The rock-themed burger franchise that adamantly refused to cater to vegans when it arrived in Indianapolis a few years ago will now sub out a house-made vegan patty in any of its specialty burgers. Specifically, the flaming-hot Heartwork features the black bean–based patty and comes dressed with garlic vegan mayonnaise, vegan cheddar, avocado, cayenne-fried potato strips, lettuce, tomato, and onion. A nice, squishy pretzel bun contains it all but does little to tamp the overbearing heat, which might be Kuma’s way of sticking it to the herbivores once and for all. $13. 1127 Prospect St., 317-929-1287

BELIEVABILITY 0/5
TASTE 2/5

Mayfair Taproom — Black Bean Burger

There is no disguising the course-ground, black-bean makeup of this house-made patty. No one is trying to, either. The sandwich is a deliciously controllable tumble of vegan ingredients, densely compacted and grilled to seal in the flavor. Its toasted vegan bun is warm and crisp, with a swipe of spicy garlic tahini that turns the whole thing into a savory distant cousin to the greasy, all-meat tavern burger. $10. 2032 E. 10th St., 317-419-2393

BELIEVABILITY 0/5
TASTE 5/5

Mayfair Taproom’s Veggie BurgerJulia Spalding

Punch Burger — Build Your Own Burger

The shipped-in mushroom-based burger also contains black beans, corn, red and green peppers, and onion. A grill-kissed crust around the edges gives the burger a nice, meaty sear—but there is no denying the vegetable undertones of this one. The bun isn’t warmed or grilled but is soft and fresh and poised to keep your DIY creation contained. $6. 137 E. Ohio St., 317-426-5280; 12525 Old Meridian St., Carmel, 317-564-0637

BELIEVABILITY 0/5
TASTE 2/5

Red Lion Grog House — Chef’s Veggie Burger

There’s a lot of burger crammed inside the bun of this sloppy, drippy hit topped with Swiss cheese, garlic-Dijon aioli, lettuce, tomato, onion, and cucumbers. The black-bean consistency is unmistakable, but the flavor, lit up with a hit of chipotle, makes this a favorite menu pick for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. $9.99 with side. 1043 Virginia Ave., 317-822-4764

BELIEVABILITY 0/5
TASTE 4/5

Red Lion’s veggie burger offeringJulia Spalding

Revolucion — Beyond Burger

Unhinge your jaw to chomp down on the bar-side meal stacked even higher with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles. The opposite of a smash burger, this extra-thick monster is as fat and juicy as a backyard burger. And you might even want to kiss the cook. $9.95 with side. 1132 Prospect St., 317-423-9490

BELIEVABILITY 5/5
TASTE 4/5

The Sinking Ship — Pineapple Express

Every burger on the SoBro bar’s menu has its vegan counterpart made with a Beyond Meat patty and served on vegan brioche bun. The one that features a ring of fried pineapple, tempeh bacon, faux Parmesan, and Korean barbecue sauce incorporates all of those savory and sweet flavors onto a convincingly beefy platform that is thick and peppery enough to stand on its own with just a swipe of mustard. $12 with side. 4923 N. College Ave., 317-920-7999

BELIEVABILITY 5/5
TASTE 5/5

Three Carrots — Beet Burger

The most vegetal of all of the burgers we tasted, this two-handed burger has a faux-rare center and the faint taste of root vegetable. It’s served on a dense bun with chunky tomato jam, miso caramelized onions, torn romaine, pickled slices of cucumber, mustard, and roasted garlic aioli. $13 with side. 920 Virginia Ave., 463-221-3669

BELIEVABILITY 1/5
TASTE 3/5

Three Carrots’s Beet BurgerJulia Spalding

Krueger’s TavernVeggie Burger

On a menu fully loaded with double-stacked burgers, the lone veggie offering from this Mass Ave-adjacent barhopping mecca—a single beet-based patty—is so light you can probably crush two. We loved the peppery swipe of pesto mayo that added some garlicky zip, but truly appreciated the fact that this thing didn’t fall apart upon first bite. Or second. $10. 323 N Delaware St., 317-790-3660

BELIEVABILITY 2/5
TASTE 3/5

Twenty Tap — Black Bean Burger

Vegetarian but not vegan, Twenty Tap’s house-made black bean patty is housed in a warm, soft bun and dressed with roasted tomatoes, pepperjack cheese, shallots, and Napa slaw. But most of the flavor comes from the chipotle aioli, which gives the burger its trademark smokiness. $10 with side. 5406-08 N. College Ave., 317-602-8840

BELIEVABILITY 1/5
TASTE 3/5

Vegan City Juice Bar — Boogey Burger

This small operation cooks up vegan street food three days a week in a shared Indy Kitchen spot. Owners Shaquita Snorten and Duante Thomas cook until the Beyond Meat burgers run out, which is a shame for folks hooked on the Big Mac–style beauty served on a lightly grilled sesame bun with vegan cheese, sautéed or raw onions, shredded lettuce, pickles, and Vegan City’s own special Boogey Burger sauce. $11 with side. 2442 Central Ave., 317-415-3469

BELIEVABILITY 5/5
TASTE 5/5

The Boogie burger at Vegan CityJulia Spalding

The District Tap — Garden Burger

The house-made puck of roasted beets, quinoa, and chickpeas has the consistency of a crab cake, and a confetti-like coloring that does not try to hide its meatless ingredients. The flavor is surprisingly robust, played up by the fresh spinach, tomato slice, and avocado stacked inside its toasted brioche bun. $12 with side. 3720 E. 82nd St., 317-288-8251

BELIEVABILITY 2/5
TASTE 3/5

Burger King — Impossible Whopper

The Whopper sets our universal baseline for what a fast-food burger tastes like, and the meat-free version (the slice of cheese takes it out of the purely vegan zone) that the chain introduced this summer is nearly identical to the original. In a side-by-side comparison, the Impossible Whopper looks slightly paler, its texture slightly dryer. (So maybe just order one burger at a time.) $5.59

BELIEVABILITY 4/5
TASTE 3/5

Burger King’s Impossible WhopperJulia Spalding

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