Burger Battle: my quest to find the best veggie burger in Pretoria

by Sonja Faul

Armed with my Star Wars notepad and pencil, I embarked on a quest to find the best veggie burger in Pretoria. Twenty two burgers later, the results are in. Ranked from worst (yes, there were some terrible burgers) to best (and great ones), join me on this delicious quest. Prices below are stated in South African Rands (ZAR).

22 – Ginger and Fig

I really wanted to love this burger! It sure sounded inventive, interesting and unusual. But this is one of those weird food experiments you secretly try out at home, that miserably fails and yet you still serve it up to your friends anyway. On book the classic combination of beetroot, goat’s cheese and onion should work, but as a burger topping here it fails completely. The burger bun was stale and not toasted. Once you bite into the burger, the beetroot patty looks really unappetising, like a raw beef patty. The first taste that hits you is the goat’s cheese and then all you can taste is the pungent mushroom ketchup on the bottom. This burger was horrible, I couldn’t finish it!

On the plus side, the presentation was gorgeous, but in the end misleading. The best thing about this burger is the side, the sweet potato crisps.

Price: R85 including sides

Wait time: 16 min

21 – Bugatti Taste Café

I ordered the V burger. Unfortunately the burger itself wasn’t as cool as its name. The V burger looked very impressive. However, the best thing about this burger was the fresh rocket and the roasted pine nuts.

The patty was huge and thick and golden (supposedly a sweet potato, butter bean and feta patty). When I took a bite, the inside of the patty was too mushy and it had no flavour whatsoever. I didn’t even finish my burger.

Price: R65 including sides

Wait time: 11 min

20 – Brooklyn Brothers

The name of the vegetarian burger is called ‘The Great Pretender’. Sides are ordered separately. Burger toppings include a zesty crushed kidney bean, carrot and corn patty with tomato, lettuce and spicy mayo. Sadly, the homemade patty is a complete letdown for me! It lacked flavour and I didn’t like the texture at all. Since the patty is the main feature of the burger, I was really disappointed.

Price: R42 excluding sides

Wait time: 16 min

19 – Company Social Brasserie

Your veggie option here is the Chickpea burger. The homemade patty was OK, not great. The taste was nice, but I really didn’t like the texture of the patty. Also, the patty fell apart and it wasn’t crispy. The rest of the topping were good: lettuce, tangy red cabbage, red onion with a cucumber yogurt dressing. The burger is served with rustic potato wedges. Overall, the patty lets this burger down.

Price: R55 including sides

Wait time: 23 min

18 – Uncle Faouzi

I was rather disappointed with Uncle Faouzi. Because it’s so close to the university, I have eaten here numerous times in the past. The food has always been great. However, this time it was less than stellar. The bun was not toasted. The falafel patty was tasty, but it was burnt and very dry. The honey mustard sauce was delicious, but the burger needed more of it!

Price: R22 excluding sides

Wait time: 19 min

17 – McDonalds

Normally I would not set foot inside McDonalds, but I had to include the veggie burger in my quest. As expected with fast food chains, the price was low and the service quick. The burger was nothing special: a sesame crusted bun, lightly toasted, a crumbed veggie patty (potato patty filled with other vegetables) with a slight curry taste, lettuce and tomato, and very little of the famous McDonalds ketchup. The burger wasn’t great, but if you are in a hurry and really hungry, this will do.

Price: R19 excluding sides

Wait time: 5 min

16 – Wimpy

This is a well-known restaurant chain in South Africa that mainly specializes in breakfasts. The deluxe veggie was OK, even tasty. The burger consisted of a sesame crusted bun, lightly toasted, a crispy, crumbed veggie patty (a potato patty filled with other vegetables), lettuce, gherkins, a slice of cheese, and Wimpy relish, served with your choice of sides, chips or a garden salad. The burger was tasty, but not inventive or interesting.

Price: R57 including sides

Wait time: 13 min

15 – Nando’s

Nando’s specialises in chicken – a healthy, more expensive alternative to KFC. The veggie burger consisted of a fresh, soft, Portuguese roll, slightly toasted on the inside, with lettuce, tomato and lots of mayo, and a home-made veggie patty. The patty is very tasty, with corn and spinach and other vegetables. You can choose the marinade for the patty (I selected lemon and herb). Overall the burger was good.

Price: R40 excluding sides

Wait time: 12 min

14 – Hudsons The Burger Joint

I ordered The Stack, which is quite expensive, and that’s just the burger without any sides! When the burger arrived, I was underwhelmed by the appearance. I guess I expected a real stack, but it looked like a normal burger. (Why call it The Stack then, a stack of what?).

The caramelised onion, avocado and goat’s cheese was very tasty, even heavenly. Unfortunately, the patty lets this burger down, way down. The lentil and falafel patty had no flavour and I didn’t care for the texture. It’s a pity really because the rest of the toppings were great.

Price: R86 excluding sides

Wait time: 15 min

13 – Spur

I will be the first one to admit that I’m not a fan of Spur. But they had a veggie burger on their menu and I had to taste it. My expectation was very low. But, I was pleasantly surprised by the burger!

It’s called a Soya Burger on the menu and served with chips and onion rings. The best time to get this burger is on Mondays, because of the two for one special. The burger consisted of a sesame seed bun, not toasted, lettuce, onion, tomato, mayo and a Fry’s soy patty (one of the best meat alternative companies in South Africa). The patty was great, marinated in tasty barbecue sauce. Overall, the burger tasted good.

Price: R73 including sides

Wait time: 20 min

12 – TriBeCa Original

This upscale establishment had a unique veggie burger on their menu: the Aubergine burger. It’s served with rustic cut chips. The burger consisted of three layers of Parmesan crumbed aubergine, mozzarella, basil pesto, baby marrow, caramelised onion, rocket and garlic aioli. The combination is classic and amazing, very tasty but rich! I’m not completely convinced that this combination belongs on a burger. It tasted great though.

Price: R84 including sides

Wait time: 22 min

11 – Steers

This is probably the best fast-food veggie burger you will find in South Africa. Ask for a prince burger with a veggie patty (it’s better than the normal veggie burger on the menu). You’ll get a slightly toasted sesame seed bun, tomato, lettuce, gherkins, cheese, and a flame-grilled Fry’s soya burger patty topped with a secret sauce. The patty had a nice smoky flavour. Steers chips are great! Don’t forget to order some with your burger.

Be sure to go on Wednesdays for the Wacky Wednesday special: 2 prince burgers for R46.

Price: R46 excluding sides

Wait time: 12 min

10 – RocoMamas

At RocoMamas you get to design your own burger, so the possible combinations are endless! I ordered an original burger with a veggie patty and a couple of extras. The patty was really great (I think its chickpea based filled with other veggies), with a smoky, barbecue taste. Other toppings included tomato, red onion, cheese and a custom made mayo. Yum! The cost of the burger will vary depending on the toppings you choose.

Price: R44 excluding sides

Wait time: 8 min

9 – Ed’s Diner

As the name implies, this is an American style diner. What’s great about the burgers at Ed’s, is that you can choose any burger on the menu and just ask for a veggie patty. This means you have plenty of choices! I selected the Yankee burger: veggie patty with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and cheese and mushroom sauce. The marinated veggie patty is homemade and very tasty (I’m not sure what it’s made of). Overall the burger is saucy and very good. The portion is quite large so you can easily share it.

Ed’s diner is packed in the evenings so it’s best to make a reservation. The menu has changed a little bit since my visit so you won’t find the Yankee burger on the menu anymore.

Price: R97 including sides

Wait time: 36 min

8 – Carbon Bistro

The gourmet burgers on the Carbon Bistro menu really excited me and I wasn’t disappointed. I selected the Stormy burger. The homemade bun with pumpkin seeds was slightly toasted. The burger consisted of rosemary roasted butternut, red onion marmalade, fried Halloumi, basil pesto, cucumber and kale served with mango chutney. I loved this unique combination! The sweetness of the mango chutney and red onion marmalade really complimented the salty Halloumi. The burger is served with thin cut, crispy chips.

Price: R85 including sides

Wait time: 22 min

7 – DK Burger

The veggie burger at DK Burger boasts a really tasty homemade chickpea and sundried tomato patty. The patty is served on a sesame seed bun with lettuce, smoked ketchup and basil pesto. No other toppings. It’s really delicious but overall a little bit dry. Be sure to go on Tuesdays when the burgers are priced at 2 for 1.

Price: R69 including sides

Wait time: 25 min

6 – Brewer’s BBQ

The veggie burger here was amazing! It contains a lightly toasted sesame seed bun, onion, tomato, lettuce, 2 pineapple rings, cheese, a standard veggie patty (potato patty filled with other veggies) all smothered in mushroom sauce. The combination was classic and nothing special, but the burger tasted really, really great.

Price: R57 excluding sides

Wait time: 15 min

5 – Hogshead

Craft beers and burgers? Sounds good to me! There’s one vegetarian burger on the menu: Halloumi Mushroom burger (R95).  The burger is served with rustic style crispy chips. The huge bun is homemade and lightly toasted. Instead of a patty, you get a grilled Halloumi steak topped with rocket, lettuce, tomato, pickles, garlic mushrooms and basil pesto. It’s a classic flavour combination that work well together (even on a bun). The burger is really tasty and the portion is so huge that you can easily share it with a friend.

Price: R95 including sides

Wait time: 22 min

 4 – Boston Bistro

Think artisan, deconstructed burger. Pita instead of a bun, and all the ingredients stacked on top of the pita instead of inside. The patty was huge, homemade and really yummy: sweet potato and feta. Toppings include sweet chilli and cottage cheese sauce, lettuce, Shiraz onions, tomato and fried spinach. The burger comes with potato wedges. This is a truly unique burger and packed full of flavour. Unfortunately, Boston Bistro has closed down since my visit.

Price: R69 including sides

Wait time: 40 min

3 – Capital craft

This beer academy happens to serve amazing food with two vegetarian burgers on the menu. I chose the Cheeky-pea bun. The burger comes with beer-battered onion rings and rustic chips. The bun was slightly toasted with a chargrilled, spicy falafel patty, smoked mozzarella cheese and tomato, onions and lettuce. The patty was really tasty and I loved the home made smoked mozzarella! Overall the burger was fantastic.

Price: R65 including sides

Wait time: 26 min

2 – Burger Bistro

Burger Bistro, as the name implies, exclusively serves burgers. You won’t find a veggie burger on the menu, though, you have to ask for it. It’s called a Gandhi burger.

You’ll get a portion of crispy chips with your huge burger. The bun was lightly toasted, with rocket, Halloumi, whole brown mushrooms, basil pesto, tomato, melted mozzarella, pine nuts and two different sauces. The burger was well balanced and very tasty, proving that you don’t need a patty to make a burger great.

Price: R73 including sides

Wait time: 5 min

1 – Lucky Rodrigo

I didn’t expect to find the best veggie burger in Pretoria at a bar! This was the best veggie burger by a mile. Why? It all comes down to the taste. Packed with flavour and great value for money, this was my favourite veggie burger!

I ordered the small vegetarian burger (which isn’t small at all).  I loved the presentation! The burger is served in a frying pan with crispy chips and fried onion rings. The burger consisted of a toasted bun, loads of mushroom sauce, salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomato, green pepper), fried onions, Halloumi, marinated eggplant, pickles and some sort of hash brown. It was delicious!

Price: R55 including sides

Wait time: 17 min

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