East Village, NYC — A couple of months ago I attempted to make a run at trying out a few restaurants that specialized in vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Not only as a cook and food writer should I be better informed in a wider variety of cuisines, reaching the half century mark in age has forced me to address a healthier dietary lifestyle.
There's a lot of new ideologies this lifelong carnivore has to adopt to — "organic", "gluten-free", "vegan"/"plant-based", all not commonly used nomenclature in my culinary discussions. And the more I learn about any of those terms, the more I'm finding them to be not as descriptive as I would prefer them to be.
Ultimately, though, the most important thing is how does any of it taste. I feel the meatless and dairy-less categories have suffered from the stigma of just not having the great tastes as most folks' favorite foods. Often rightfully so.
Yet being actively engaged in the food field as I am, I do hear mutterings of someplace making a notable splash. Recently it has been a small, walk-down spot in the East Village called Superiority Burger, which has been touted as having New York City's best-tasting veggie burger.
So I had to try out this veggie burger that people started waiting on line for as soon as the doors open, and that was garnering a whole lot of online praise.
And expecting to not be sated by just the burger (I had heard they were kind of small in size), I also ordered a Sloppy Dave (vegan version of a Sloppy Joe), and a side of charred broccoli.
As has been the case with every veggie burger I've ever had, this purported black bean and quinoa burger patty doesn't taste anything like beef. I've long accepted that veggie burgers are not supposed to. But they should taste as good for what they are — like a burger — and, surprisingly, this veggie burger is quite delicious.
Not even bothering to analyze each bite to see if my palate could discern what particular ingredients made this animal-free meatball have some rich depth in terms of flavors — not needing to be saved by peripherals such as heavy aiolis or double handfuls of other produce — and elevates with a nice crumbly textural bite and chew. Even the moisture content was uniquely pleasant, leveled out with respectfully scant lettuce and tomato.
The bigger miracle, to me, was the Sloppy Dave, which is the closest any vegan dish has ever tasted, eaten like, or prominently evoked its meat-centric inspiration. "Frizzled" onions added nice, accessible crunch and aroma to a wonderfully sloppy, meaty feel of a sandwich, in a rich, sweet, sauce with a nice bit of tang and bite.
Burnt broccoli is saved from having to pretend to be anything else besides broccoli, and who doesn't love a good char on a hearty green veggie, especially when it's complimented with earthy eggplant, and spiked with red chili and coriander.
Superiority Burger is the closest I've come to discovering a vegan-minded restaurant that could make carnivore adaptation, and conversion, a deliciously smooth transition.
More so when even the vegan ice cream serves as a rewarding meal-end reminder.
Superiority Burger | 430 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009 | (212) 256-1192 | superiorityburger.com