Back in San Diego! In a city with a perpetual burger battle, I definitely had my opinions back when I ate meat (Rocky’s, with many close seconds), but as a vegetarian, my current personal favorite comes from the Burger Lounge. I used to think I did not like veggie burgers. I had only tried one once, at Bennigan’s some time ago, and I was thoroughly unimpressed. A bit later, when I was student teaching, my master teacher informed me that his daughter, a pescetarian, really loved the veggie burger at Burger Lounge. Oh, I was soooo excited. I used to love the turkey burgers there (I know…a girl had to have a signature bird, okay?), and so after the clean up day following the last day of school, we met his wife at the Little Italy location, and they treated me to my next go at a veggie burger. Victory!
I had a craving, so Court and I met up at the Kensington location the other night. I decided to go there because I did not feel like dealing with parking, which is an issue at each of the other nearish locations (Little Italy, Gaslamp, Hillcrest), and I did not want to drive out to La Jolla or Coronado. Parking in adorable Kensington is no easy task either, but one can usually find a spot with one loop around the block. The biggest problem with this Burger Lounge and others is that they are small and tight. A party of two is typically not a problem, a party of four is usually still okay, but a party bigger than that, and you may have some issues finding a place to sit. The nice thing, however, is that every location is close enough to a park or beach that if the restaurant is too crowded, you can grab to go and picnic nearby.
Crowded for a Wednesday night, service was unusually slow. I stood in line for at least 12 minutes just to place my order (yes, in typing that out, I do realize how snotty it sounds), but once I did, my food came out relatively quickly. I blame the group that thought this would be a good restaurant for a birthday party with many guests (read: lots of pushing tables together). Hmph, but onto more important things: the food.
When the burger comes to you (I ordered with herbed fries), it’s colorful and appealing. The bun always looks a little too small for the patty, and when I eat, I realize it kind of is (Burger Lounge! Bigger buns! Please!). I love that I can see the herbs peaking through the patty and sprinkled on the fries. I know what I am eating is not low calorie, but somehow seeing the bright and fresh ingredients subsides some of that burger and fries guilt.
Big on texture, a dry burger is a serious crime, but this burger is luscious with a meat-like center and that slightly crispy grilled exterior. It’s not dry; it does not fall apart. I never thought I would say it, but…you almost forget you’re not eating a real burger. The flavor is there. It’s a bit mouth-watering, actually. Get ready for the ingredient list: organic quinoa, brown rice, garbanzo beans, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, onion, garlic, panko, parsley, chipotle, and Monterey Jack cheese all formed into a hearty patty and cooked on a flat top grill. I have a confession. I tried making a BL patty on my own once. Admittedly, I did not use all the ingredients, but let’s just say it did not exactly turn out the same way. The burger comes on the “Lounge bun”, which is a wheat bun, but it’s soft, and while small, it has an airy height. The lettuce is crisp, the tomatoes are juicy, and the Thousand Island dressing is house-made and well complements the protein. I order mine with white cheddar and grilled onions, and the end result is a seriously delectable burger. For vegetarians who miss hamburgers, I implore you, try this burger. You will be a happy critter, and the best thing is without the meat, you can eat the whole thing, and you do not feel like a gluttonous sloth afterward.
I feel the need to make a special note for ketchup fiends like me. There is no ketchup on the burger, and you only get two pre-filled little cups for your fries or onion rings or burger, if you choose to put it on there. Just ask for extra on the side, and when you do, give the person behind the counter that look as you say, “Really, like a lot of extra,” and then when your food is served and you only have two extras, just ask for more, and they will happily bring it to you.
The fries. I know this is a big deal for many, not the least of which was my dinner companion, Courtney, a fry fanatic. I like the fries. They are hand-cut, crispy, not oily, well-salted, and I love the parsley addition. They are not always hot. There’s an inconsistency there, which is a bummer because we all hate to be that person who sends back the luke warm fries, but really, if they come luke warm, they will downright cold momentarily. When they are hot, though, I think they’re pretty good. The onion rings are also crispy and well-coated. I have yet to have a salad here, so if anyone has tried one, let me know how they are.
The Burger Lounge is a modern delight always set in trendy or enchanting parts of town. They give you a gourmet burger with fresh ingredients, and you can go there with your “you vegetarians are nuts!” friends, and everyone can be happy. Important additional information: Burger Lounge supports local and regional farmers, is source verified, and while I do not support eating the animals, I am happy to know they actually visit the ranches where the animals are kept to ensure proper treatment and conditions.
This Burger Lounge is located at 4116 Adams Avenue, east of the 15, and there are five other locations around town, which can be found on the website. It is open everyday from 10:30 am – 9:00 pm.