5 Veggie Burgers We Crave in Denver/Boulder

By Ruth Tobias  |  May 7, 2014
Credit: Ashley Davis Tilly

Thanks to the frozen UFOs supermarkets pass off as meatless patties, veggie burgers get a bad rap. But when lovingly made from whole ingredients, they can be just as scrumptious as their meaty counterparts - and almost always more creative. Beef is beef, but the variety offered by legumes, vegetables, grains, roots and seeds is endless. Here are 5 mean, green, just plain awesome veggie burgers we keep coming back to in Denver and Boulder. 

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Black-Bean Burger at Park & Co.

    The Patty: This rollicking Uptown hang blends black beans, corn, rice, tomatoes and chiles for what’s more like a disk-shaped Tex-Mex casserole than a patty, per se. The same deliciously zesty recipe is used at both branches of sibling Park Burger too.
    The Bun: Grateful Bread’s potato bun or Izzio's gluten-free alternative.
    The Toppings: Technically, there’s only one veggie burger on the menu, but you can ask for the bean patty on any of the house specialties. Though you’d think its Southwestern flavors would clash with the Toadster - made from bacon, Swiss cheese, mushroom duxelles and balsamic onions - the creamy, spicy and smoky elements come together boldly and beautifully. (Obviously, actual vegetarians can skip the bacon.)
    The Messiness Quotient: High
    Price: $9.50 ($6.75 for regular veggie burger)

    429 E. 17th Ave.; 720-328-6732

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Carrot-Falafel Burger at Zeal: Food for Enthusiasts 

    The Patty: At this lifestyle-conscious fast-casual eatery in Boulder, chef Arik Markus adds lentils, flaxseeds and chia seeds to his carrot falafel to create the vibrant foundation for the so-called Plant Burger.
    The Bun: Your choice of house-baked spelt bread (pictured) or gluten-free oat bread from Kim & Jake's - or even a rice-paper or collard-leaf wrap.
    The Toppings: Just a schmear of rich cashew "cheese," please. 
    The Messiness Quotient: Medium
    Price: $10

    1710 Pearl St.; 720-708-6309

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Mushroom-Walnut Burger at Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

    The Patty: Portobello mushrooms and walnuts give this softie its luscious umami-filled flavor, underscored by vegan rémoulade.
    The Bun: Whole-wheat bread
    The Toppings: Good old lettuce, tomato and red onions - you won't need anything else. 
    The Messiness Quotient: High
    Price: $9

    2010 16th St.; 303-442-1485

  • Credit: Ashley Davis Tilly

    Beet Burger at The Kitchen Next Door

    The Patty: Smoked paprika and cumin lend an exotic tinge to earthy-sweet roasted beets and chickpeas bound with egg and breadcrumbs, making this mouthful a hit among the gastropub’s groupies since day one.
    The Bun: Izzio, fka Udi’s, provides the regular or gluten-free buns.
    The Toppings: Balsamic onions complement the beets, while feta and arugula offer sharp contrast. 
    The Messiness Quotient: Low
    Price: $7.95

    Boulder: 1035 Pearl St., 720-542-8159; Glendale: 658 S. Colorado Blvd., 303-757-0878

  • The Tree Hugger at 5280 Burger Bar

    The Patty: Beyond the main ingredient, quinoa, the recipe is the chef’s secret: we were told only that it contains a blend of spices. And a juicy secret it is: the flavor is at once nutty, earthy and piquant, the texture grainy but not at all dry. Given this Downtown burger bar’s location in the Pavilions, surrounded on all sides by mediocre chains, we couldn’t be more impressed by the kitchen’s careful handiwork. (Also check out the Boss Hog here.)
    The Bun: The rolls are house-baked with equal attention to detail: fluffy on the inside, with a light interior crunch enhanced by a sprinkling of pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds.
    The Toppings: Bright, smooth basil pesto, plus a whole roasted red pepper and sprouts.
    The Messiness Quotient: Low
    Price: $8.50

    500 16th St.; 303-825-1020