Where’s the Beef?

I thought I was being punked. I had gone to Burgatory (burgatorybar.com) on the North Shore to try the new Impossible Burger, the plant-based burger that so enthusiastically promises the taste and texture of real meat that it even “bleeds.” One juicy bite, and I was convinced that they swapped out my experiment for a true-blue burger. My hosts raised their eyebrows in an excited “I told you so.” They weren’t bluffing.
So what’s in it? Wheat, coconut oil, potatoes and — this is the important part — heme. Heme is an iron-containing compound that is found in both plants and animals. It’s what makes the burger juicy. It’s why the Impossible Burger smells and tastes “meaty.”
Here’s the thing: It’s such a good burger hack that I don’t imagine the target audience is vegans and vegetarians. Instead, I’d recommend this burger to health-conscious (there’s no cholesterol) and Earth-conscious (the Impossible Burger uses 95 percent less land, 74 percent less water, and creates 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than burgers made from cows) consumers.
Other veggie burgers we love:
The Sante Fe Hippie
BRGR’s black bean-corn-falafel burger is topped with guacamole and cilantro. The Pepper Jack cheese gives it a kick. The lime crème fraiche cools it down (and makes a great fry sauce). brgrpgh.com
The Lawrenceville
The star of Burgh’ers’ bean burger is, hands down, the pickled onions. But we enjoy the avocado + “mojo sauce,” honey and Sriracha and a secret ingredient. It’s on a wheat bun, and we don’t mind at all. burgherspgh.com
The Sweet Potato
Benjamin’s has the only sweet potato burger in the city, and we love that we can top it with any of their classic burger-topping combos. Bring on the candied jalapeño cream cheese and applewood smoked bacon! benjaminspgh.com
The Northstar
Worthy of a drive to Columbus, this house burger is made with black beans, rice, and beets, and topped with white cheddar, pickle, and onion. It’s as elegant as it is witty — a side of yellow mustard will give you drive-thru nostalgia. thenorthstarcafe.com