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In Dining

AJ Bombers black bean burger, served with sweet potato chips.

In Dining

The Fresco with black bean patty at Sobelman's Tallgrass Grill. Served with fries and pickle spears.

In Dining

The Black Stack at Stack'd, with a house salad and topped with fried pickles.

Milwaukee burger joints flip tasty veggie patties, too


Vegetarians never despair when they dine out in Milwaukee. The well-known vegetarian restaurants in the city continue to please, and the growing number of restaurants and bars with vegetarian – and sometimes even vegan – options makes getting alternatives to the basic burger easier all the time.

There's a certain comfort-food component to burgers and fries, as if this food is the staple of a mythic American experience, one we don't really all share and yet remains somehow in our consciousness. And simply, Milwaukee has several great burger joints that demand to be experienced.

With all that in mind, and the idea that occasionally vegetarians might just want to eat out with their beef-loving friends, we've taken a look at the alternatives three popular Milwaukee burger joints are offering up.

The ubiquitous "veggie patty" is probably what most vegetarians have come to know as the beef and turkey patty alternative. Often little more than the "garden burger" in the frozen food section of groceries (if not that exact patty), vegetarians have traditionally been given the "flavor eff off," neglected and mistreated in the flavor department when they went out for burgers.

Replacing the veggie patty with a more interesting option, we find the black bean burger is now the main alternative to beef at Sobelman's Tallgrass Grill, AJ Bombers and Stack'd, with Bombers and Stack'd also offering a portabella mushroom sandwich.

Sobelman's Tallgrass Grill, 1952 N. Farwell Ave., offers a one-third pound black bean patty, same size as its beef patties. The veggie option, which is pre-programmed into the register, is extremely popular at the East Side burger joint.

"But not so much at the Pub; we don't get a lot of vegetarians there," says Dave Sobelman, speaking of Sobelman's Pub and Grill, 1900 W. St. Paul Ave. The patty for any of Sobelman's burgers can be replaced with the black bean.

Sobelman says that the Fresco is by far the most popular vegetarian choice at Tallgrass. The Fresco is served with chipotle jack cheese, avocado, tomato and raw onions. Sobelman jokes that it's popularity might have something to do with its color, it being a beautiful sandwich to behold, but adds that really, it has the most produce, its name is "fresh" and that he can't really explain it any other way.

"Guys are often into the jalapeno bacon cheese, gals are into the mushroom and Swiss burger and the Fresco crosses every age, gender and ethnic group in popularity," Sobelman says.

Sobelman adds that meat-eaters will order one of his signature beef burgers at Tallgrass and add the black bean patty to it, creating a double-decker sandwich of mammoth proportions.

All of the beef patties at Sobelman's come from grass-fed cows (hence the "Tallgrass" title). The grass-fed cows, a healthier mode of beef production, often goes hand-in-hand with fresher, locally-produced ingredients of all kinds, and tends to accompany vegetarian options. Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)

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Talkbacks

llmacphail | Aug. 1, 2011 at 8:03 p.m. (report)

You wonder if the restaurants covered have anything to do with the Marcus Restaurants/Sorge relationship with OnMilwaukee.com. Seems like the real stars are left out time and again, and we see the same faces/fronts with each article. Seems less like community reporting and more like the JS.

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OCMEX | Aug. 1, 2011 at 2:18 p.m. (report)

The words "Veggie" and "Burger" should never be side by side in one sentence!

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uww27225 | Aug. 1, 2011 at 1:23 p.m. (report)

This article is very weak on actually noting where in Milwaukee one can get a veggie burger. Oscar's Pub definitely has the best black bean burger in town! The Hooligan's veggie patty and Tempaleu Walnut burger are very good and there are a variety of different styles. Also missing from the article: Beans & Barley, Stonefly, Northpoint Custard Stand, Cafe Centraal, Comet....

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llmacphail | July 30, 2011 at 2:04 p.m. (report)

Two of the three veggie burgers you highlighted are a terrible representation of what a vegetarian burger can be. Both Stack'd and AJ Bombers have the same issue - their "black bean burger" is essentially a pile of bean mush. It doesn't hold it's shape at all, is very bland, and squeezes out of the bun with the consistency of toothpaste. Some will try to say this is due to the lack of eggs for binding, but there are plenty of other options, and it's sad that these restaurants wouldn't do some research before serving such underwhelming options. I don't care if they were created by a vegetarian or not, these two burgers give vegetarian food a bad name, and I'm amazed the people who make them can call themselves "chefs".

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