Denver's veggie food scene is decent, but nowhere except the People's Republic of Boulder would you find a restaurant quite like VG Burgers. Its all-organic, all-vegan menu is an anomaly in the quick-casual industry -- as is the fact that the facility is entirely wind-powered, and there isn't a wastebasket, per se, just two bins labeled "recycling" and "compost" next to a bus-tub in which to stack dishes. The to-go materials are compostable, the produce is locally sourced, and food waste is donated to a local animal sanctuary.
It's a cute little venue situated next to a dry cleaning business on the corner of Broadway and Arapahoe (1650 Broadway) with a basketball hoop in the parking lot. After ordering at the counter from the chalkboard menu, customers can slip into the small but sufficient dining room, with tables painted to resemble trees, local art on the walls and world music piping through the speakers. The tabletops are painted with various veggie-friendly quotes, and although it can be a bit disconcerting to glimpse words like "murder" and "massacre" surrounding your plate of food, you can rest easy knowing that this meal, at least, is cruelty-free.
There are five variations of burgers, ranging from the black-bean burger (topped with avocado and salsa and pictured above) to the meat- and dairy-free "bacon cheeseburger," which comes topped with a giant fried onion ring for texture. All are served on whole-wheat buns.
VG Burgers also carries "chicken" sandwiches, salads, sandwiches, burritos and wraps, plus a wide array of sides, including chili cheese fries, nachos, "chicken" fingers and mashed potatoes.
The fries are cut shoestring-style and deep-fried to a crisp, but if you don't like 'em that way, the friendly people behind the counter will be more than happy to adjust the cooking time for your taste. And there's vegan ranch available, too, along with ketchup for dipping.
One of the surprises on the menu is the mac-and-cheese bowl, served here with avocado and tempeh bacon. The vegan cheese melts well, and the avocado adds an extra dose of creaminess to the dish.
Some dishes (clearly marked) are also available gluten-free.
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The relatively large menu (particularly for a restaurant this size) and varied selection for vegans and veggie-lovers can be a bit pricey -- around $5 for a hot dog, $4 for a grilled-cheese sandwich and $10 for the bacon cheeseburger. But considering that the ingredients are 100 percent organic and locally sourced whenever possible, the food is reasonably priced. And don't forget: You can bring your own basketball and play a quick game of HORSE to burn off some of those calories post-meal.
Call 303-440-2400 or visit www.vgburgers.com for information.