Where’s the un-beef? Searching for vegetarian burger bliss

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      Location 1: Lyfe Kitchen

      140 S. Green Valley Parkway, 702-558-0131

      Rationale: A place that puts quinoa and chia seeds in that many dishes has to be good at veggie burgers.

      Lyfe has an impressive record of making health food taste awesome. I had high hopes for its Garden Burger ($8.49), but the Gardein patty’s mildness was done no favors by basic toppings of romaine, tomato, red onion, pickle and dijonnaise that seemed to have lost its mustard. Everything was fresh. The oatmeal bun was fluffy and sweet. The patty was nicely charred. But where was the flavor? Maybe Lyfe should add tomato jam or balsamic onions or pesto—anything to infuse this inoffensive bite with some character.

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      Location 2: Holsteins

      Cosmopolitan, 702-698-7940

      Rationale: Strip hot-spots known for burgers must understand that vegetarians expect fireworks, too.

      It seemed wrong that the tabletop’s cartoon cow was staring at my Urth Burger ($13), but maybe it was jealousy. The vegan patty rolls together everything from green peas, chickpeas and chives to tahini and lemon, giving it earthy richness. The texture starts with fried crunch like falafel, but the center is velvety, complemented by butter lettuce, tomato, thin cucumber, lots of sprouts and avocado on a sturdy bun. Word is that chef Anthony Meidenbauer created the Urth patty for a vegan high roller. I hope he tipped.

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      Location 3: The Dillinger

      1224 Arizona St., Boulder City, 702-293-4001

      Rationale: When competing restaurants say no one does burgers like the Dillinger, you want to believe that magic applies to legumes.

      Boulder City’s burger heaven recently changed up its veggie option with the Black Bean Burger ($8), a savory, silky puck of homemade beans topped with shredded lettuce, purple onion, tomato and a special-special sauce that’s actually a yogurt-based tzatziki. I added avocado for an almost burrito-ish effect and mowed through the plate in minutes. It was hearty but wholesome enough to make me feel I had room for apricot pale ale and sweet potato fries rife with cinnamon-sugar.

      • Executive Chef Jainine Jaffer loves creating imaginative off-menu specials like paneer poutine and rooh afsza (rose syrup) tiramisu.

      • Berenjenas is one of the most distinct dishes at the restaurant—breaded golden baby eggplant served with chili-infused honey.

      • If you want to bring in the big-spending Asian clientele, you have to create an elegant experience and serve all the classics.

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