Like with any burger, there are good ones and then there are great ones. With veggie burgers, however, this line is fine, and there are some truly sad ones out there.
While vegetarian food has come a long way in the last couple of years, veggie burgers still tend to be hit and miss – as some places treat them like an afterthought. Any vegetarian will tell you that even having a veg burger on the menu is a win, but when it’s a proper, considered vegetarian burger with all the trimmings, there’s simply nothing better!
Here’s a round-up of some of the best veggie burgers you can find in Joburg and Cape Town.
Banana Jam Café
(Kenilworth, Cape Town)
This Cape Town stalwart might be known for its killer cocktails and laid-back island vibes, but a little-known secret is that they make a pretty mean veggie burger. Marley’s Rasta Bun features a homemade vegetarian walnut burger, topped with mushrooms and grilled pineapple rings, and will give any beef burger a run for its money.
Burger & Lobster
(Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town)
As it says on the tin, Burger & Lobster is famous for one, or rather two, things. But this is not to say that in between all of the shellfish and beef burgers they don’t have a banging veggie option. Their veggie patty is made up of lentils, mushrooms, baby marrow, carrots, cabbage, rosemary and thyme and is crumbed in panko bread crumbs, deep fried and topped with cheese, served on a toasted brioche bun.
(Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town)
Is there anything Clarke’s can’t do? The all-day diner is one of Cape Town’s most treasured restaurants and when you’ve tasted their food, it’s easy to see why. The zucchini and beet burger here might sound virtuous, however, the hearty patty is topped with mozzarella and served on Clarke’s iconic, homemade burger buns, and is anything but.
(Westlake, Cape Town)
An institution in the Southern Suburbs, Jakes in Tokai is the perfect spot for any occasion and thanks to their ‘best burgers’ offering, this applies to vegetarians, too. This veg option is certainly no afterthought – Jake’s patty is made from chickpea, beetroot and quinoa and comes with slaw and smashed avo.
(Gardens, Cape Town)
Everything Judd’s does is done with care and consideration, and their veggie burger is no different. They make their own patty and serve it just the way a burger should be – with pink sauce and crispy onion rings (all vegan-friendly, of course).
The Woodlands Eatery
(Oranjezicht, Cape Town)
Meat-eaters can attest that Woodlands’ beef burger is one of the best in the city, but veggies will say the same thing about their vegetarian burger. The butternut and chickpea burger (also made with black beans and sweetcorn) is served with homemade pickles, hummus and tomato chutney. With sweet potato fries and onion rings on the side, you’re easily getting more than your 5-a-day in.
Regulars will know that you come for the vibes, but stay for the food at 011 Rosebank. Undeniably one of the best spots for a drink after work on Friday, 011 is also known for their comprehensive menu that caters for everyone – veggies included. Their veg burger features a homemade sweet potato-and-quinoa patty and is served on a toasted seed bun with garlic aioli and sweet potato chips on the side.
Milk Bar George Lea Park
On a Friday night, there are few places better to be than Milk Bar. Be it for a quick after-work drink or dinner, this is one of Joburg’s best-loved spots. They’re also not playing around when it comes to their burgers, including their veg offering. Milk Bar’s veg burger comprises a halloumi patty, basted with apricot and harissa topped with hummus and pickled red onions and is proof that “vegetarian” doesn’t mean boring.
You are 100% guaranteed a good time at The Royale, with a banging cocktail menu and vibe that draws in the coolest of Joburg’s crows. Drawing on South American inspiration, you can expect to find lots of Cuban, Mexican and Peruvian flavours, but they stick to a classic combo when it comes to the veggie burger. Lexi’s warrior patty (butterbean, spinach and green pea) comes served on a bun, with crisp lettuce, and the option to add some cheese.