I first learned about Zen Burger by reading the Serious Eats brother blog – A Hamburger Today. They mentioned how they were a truly vegetarian fast food joint. I always have my doubts, so I visited their website and even forwarded an email to their management to make sure their ingredients were OK for all types of vegetarians to enjoy.
Their reply confirmed that they only used Vegenaise as their veggie mayo, that most their products were soy based, they also have veggie patties, and none include eggs. I was sooooo happy. I immediately put them on my TO VISIT list the next time I was in NYC.
You will find Zen Burger in Mid-town Manhattan on Lexington Ave. between 45th and 46th streets. It looks like a regular fast food joint, but it is so much different than any fast food joint I have visited, starting from the sign at the door. Love it…
I first visited the place without looking to eat there at the moment. So I talked for a little while with one of the cashiers (I was lucky it was early and no one was ordering anything at the time…) We discussed the menu, the food, how the food was made and the secret Zen sauce. She was not allowed to tell me the ingredients, but when I saw it, I just “guessed them” right away. She was relay nice and gave me reassurance of what I should order. Here is a copy of their menu for your reference.
Inside, you can see that everything has an environmental twist to it. All the napkins are made from 100% recycled materials and the TV screens communicate messages on the advantages to the environment on eating less meat. Even the tray liners have educational messages. They are appealing to the environmentalist in all of us… enticing you to eat vegetarian because it’s good to the earth and the environment… the humane part is just a by-product. I think it’s a good approach.
But after you get those environmentalists in the door… how does the food taste??? I ordered the Zen Burger with fries and a drink. The friend I made at the register told me it was their most popular item on the menu and as such it was delivered to me in less than 30 seconds. I do not kid you. It’s a soy based patty with onion, pickles, lettuce and tomato and it also has a Zen Sauce – which is like a mayoketchup. Let me tell you, it tasted like I remember the BK Whoopers. The looks of it were not the best, but the taste was really good, and the fries were delicious too.
As you can see from the menu above, they have a wide variety: they have “chicken nuggets”, fish fillets, BBQ patties and many other sandwiches very reminiscing of other fast food joints, but here you can order without hesitation or reserves that it was made in the same area as other meat products. I love that…
I mentioned Zen Burger to a friend and she highly encouraged me to eat here. She is a non-vegetarian and has lunch At Zen Burger frequently thanks to a vegetarian co-worker. She told me she eats there not only because of the proximity to her office, but because the food is really good.
I encourage you to visit Zen Burger. It’s a vegetarian fast food joint. Expect good fast food. It does not have
I wished I had stayed in NYC a bit longer so I could have tried some other menu options… I guess I’ll need to plan a trip to NYC sooner rather than later, no??