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Nearly three years ago, a food writer, a dining critic and a mostly vegetarian entertainment reporter piled into a Tribune-owned Chevrolet Malibu and hit the road to name Chicagoland’s best veggie burger. The initial research was conducted by Tribune reporter Monica Eng, who sacrificially scarfed down more than a dozen before bringing Phil Vettel and this former pescatarian (don’t judge) on board to hash out the final four: Grand Lux Cafe, The Counter and Ed Debevic’s, all in Chicago, and Michael’s Chicago Style Red Hots in Highland Park.

Back then, those were our best bets. The newly opened Counter, a build-your-own-burger joint offering multiple proteins (or faux) and fixings, was a novel concept at the time, while Michael’s was an old standby we couldn’t ignore. Ed Debevic’s offered a satisfyingly meaty meatless burger, and Grand Lux, that guilty pleasure destination among Tribuners and so many others, wowed us with its wild mushroom patty and basil aioli spread — and won.

So many burger joints have opened since our last roundup, Vettel and I decided to eat in search of the best new veggie burger in Chicago, presumably one that would give Grand Lux a run for its mushrooms. Fortunately, all those options provided deliciousness to spare and also taught us that there is no one predominant breed of burger — not even among the veggies. This led to a manifesto of sorts (see story at right) to help us sort the warmed-over Bocas from the bona fide burgers.

After seeking out and sampling as many patties as possible, we settled on seven worth their weight in soy protein. Our winner, DMK Burger, was the clear standout, and the runners-up are featured below.

DMK Burger
House Veggie & Grain: One bite and we knew this was the winner. As Phil put it, “This tastes like it was made by a chef.” Our compliments to Misters Morton and Kornick. Aged cheddar, pesto mayo, fresh tomatoes and surprisingly yummy eggplant complement a patty derived of rice, zucchini, beans, peppers and mixed veggies for a balanced flavor profile that’s as different as it is delicious. We’d go out of our way to revisit this one. $8, 2954 N. Sheffield Ave., 773-360-8686;


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