Best of Denver

Denver's Ten Best Vegan Burgers for Your Plant-Based Summer Dining

Going vegan doesn't mean missing out on a good burger.
Going vegan doesn't mean missing out on a good burger. Courtesy TAG Burger Bar
Everyone craves a good, hearty burger at times, and vegans are no exception. But it’s not that easy to find a well-made vegan burger. Many restaurants throw a token veggie burger on the menu, but it’s often made with cheese or eggs — or it’s just not very good. These spots are doing it right and doing it totally dairy-free.

click to enlarge Head to Westminster if the downtown 5280 Burger Bar is a little too noisy for you. - MARK ANTONATION
Head to Westminster if the downtown 5280 Burger Bar is a little too noisy for you.
Mark Antonation
5280 Burger Bar
500 16th Street, 303-825-1020
4301 Main Street, Westminster, 720-887-5970

5280 Burger Bar started simply from a love of burgers, and even the Tree Hugger gets the same attention as the meatier options, with a housemade quinoa patty loaded with grilled zucchini and seasonal squash. Ask for a lettuce wrap to keep it dairy-free (5280 makes its own brioche-style burger buns, so unfortunately there's not a vegan bun in the house). Spice it up with additional toppers, including grilled chiles, pico de gallo or avocado.

click to enlarge BurgerFi offers a vegan special in a fast-casual environment. - WESTWORD
BurgerFi offers a vegan special in a fast-casual environment.
1147 Broadway

BurgerFi is a modern fast-casual joint serving burgers, fries and onion rings. While the house veggie patty is not totally vegan, the hearty Beyond Burger is. The juicy plant-based patty is topped with ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions. Order yours without cheese and mayo to keep it vegan.

You can't go wrong with vegan dining at City, O' City. - WESTWORD
You can't go wrong with vegan dining at City, O' City.
City, O' City
206 East 13th Avenue

Of course the quintessential Denver veg hot spot is going to have a must-try vegan burger. Called El Jefe, this one starts with a burger patty made from vegetables, sunflower seeds and walnuts. It’s then loaded with sautéed mushrooms, onion rings, hot sauce and scrambled tofu, and served with your choice of a side.

click to enlarge Plant-based eaters get the late-night munchies, too. - WESTWORD
Plant-based eaters get the late-night munchies, too.
Highland Tap & Burger
2219 West 32nd Avenue

Highland Tap & Burger serves an extensive beer menu and late-night menu options, including a few meatless selections. For the vegan burger option, the Impossible patty is completed with arugula, smashed avocado and fresh jalapeños. Wash it all down with a variety of local drafts, such as the Odell IPA, Great Divide's Colette or Comrade Brewing's Mandarina.

click to enlarge Hopdoddy's vegan burger. - KRISTEN KUCHAR
Hopdoddy's vegan burger.
Kristen Kuchar
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
1747 Wynkoop Street

Right in the midst of the bustling action at Union Station sits Hopdoddy Burger Bar, with a list of burgers and fries alongside local beers on tap. A meat-like Impossible patty is topped with lettuce, tomato and white onion. When you order, say “Make it vegan” to swap out the regular housemade bun for an egg- and dairy-free whole-wheat number and ditch the Sassy Sauce in favor of vegan mayo. Your cheese craving will be satisfied by a slice of dairy-free Follow Your Heart smoked gouda.

click to enlarge This one's completely legal. - COURTESY ILLEGAL BURGER
This one's completely legal.
Courtesy Illegal Burger
Illegal Burger
1512 Larimer Street (and other locations)

The Illegal Burger menu is filled with all-natural ingredients, and each location of the small Colorado chain is decked out with sustainable decor. The house vegan burger is a protein-packed black bean patty topped with creamy avocado, alfalfa sprouts, lettuce, tomato and red onions served on a whole wheat bun. Finish it off with fresh jalapeños, pineapple, grilled onions or peppers and barbecue sauce for a zingy and satisfying meal.

Native Foods Cafe
680 South Colorado Boulevard

Native Foods Cafe is a plant-based chain serving hearty versions of bar food, including nachos, chicken wings, a meatball sub and a handful of burgers. The Big Ol’ BBQ Burger is a “meaty” patty loaded with seitan bacon, crispy shallots, tangy barbecue sauce, ranch, lettuce and mayo. The Southwestern Burger is topped with grilled jalapeños, guacamole and Santa Fe salsa. Both are served with seasoned fries, lemon-dill potato salad, mac and cheese or another tasty side of your choosing.

Park Burger
1890 South Pearl Street (and other locations)

Park Burger is Denver's family-friendly burger joint — whether your family is in Platt Park, Highland, Hilltop or RiNo. The Veggie Park Burger is your go-to for a meat- and dairy-free option; the full flavor and toothsome texture come from a blend of grains and vegetables. Top it the way you want it for an all-American classic minus the moo. Sweet-potato fries, regular fries and some crisp house salads round out the vegan options.

click to enlarge Going vegan doesn't mean missing out on a good burger. - COURTESY TAG BURGER BAR
Going vegan doesn't mean missing out on a good burger.
Courtesy TAG Burger Bar
TAG Burger Bar
1222 Madison Street

TAG Burger Bar feels hidden in Congress Park, but the atmosphere is like the neighborhood's backyard burger party. The housemade veggie patty comes topped with arugula, avocado and tomato. Choose the naked option (on butter lettuce) or have it on a locally made gluten-free bun, and skip the goat cheese that's part of the standard setup.

Where else but Watercourse? - COURTESY WATERCOURSE FOODS
Where else but Watercourse?
Courtesy Watercourse Foods
Watercourse Foods
837 East 17th Avenue

Watercourse is vegan comfort food at its finest, where you'll find a long list of add-ons to keep your burger fresh no matter how many times a week you visit. Top the flavorful seitan patty with a choice of tofu bacon, crispy onions, mozzarella, arugula, mushrooms, red onion jam, sour cream, green chile, barbecue sauce or cheddar sauce, plus the usual suspects — lettuce, tomato and onion. There's no meat, eggs or dairy in the house, so you'll never need to substitute.
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Kristen Kuchar is a Colorado writer covering craft beer, food and travel. For Westword, she explores vegan dining and the state's artisan beverages, such as cider and mead.