Thursday, July 27, 2017

Messy Magnificent Mesa Burger: Cat Cora Slays the Veggie Burger

This is a veggie burger!

If you've seen the show Iron Chef, you know Cat Cora as the nerves-of-steel chef who brings a Greek twist to her comfort food. I would expect her to open a restaurant in L.A. or Las Vegas, not a burger joint on the Mesa here in Santa Barbara. But am I glad she did!

I am not your normal burger customer, being largely vegetarian. How to put this delicately... I have eaten desiccated, oaty, blasphemously awful veggie burgers up and down this coast and all around this globe. They invariably come with wheat buns, sprouts, and low-fat mayo. Not juicy, not even vaguely edible. What I hate most as a foodie is seeing a perfunctory veggie thing on the menu, ordering it, and finding that someone smeared some hummus on a grilled pepper and called it done. There's no reason for the veggie entree to suck, but it often does, and my heart breaks a little every time I see a gorgeous menu of super foodie dishes and then the one vegetarian thing I said, hummus and roasted red peppers.

Vegetarian...not kidding!

So I had reason to worry when I bellied up to the bar at Mesa Burger, where the entire point of the place is burgers. My eyes fell on the Shoreline: veggie patty/red pepper hummus/pickled red onions/sprouts/salsa verde. Yes, indeed, my old nemesis Le Hummus with his sidekick Mr. Sprouts. I want my vegan folks to have a good nosh, but for the love of heaven, do hummus and sprouts belong on a burger of any kind? I sucked in my outrage and ordered a veggie patty subbed into their signature Mesa burger with house-made pickles, thousand island, and a brioche bun with a side of fries.

The veggie burger came and was actually thicker and more burgerish than the beef burger that my buddy ordered. I took a big ol' bite of deliciousness...and, convinced that I'd accidentally been given a meat burger, I proceeded to spit it out, making little sputtering noises. Until my buddy took a taste for me, and along with the manager, assured me this was not meat. Its texture was a dead ringer, juicy and fatty, and frickin' delicious!

I definitely recommend a visit to Mesa Burger. Be sure to save room for dessert though. Cat Cora features McConnell's in ice-cream sandwiches and delicious root-beer floats!

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