“Veggie-Burger Cherry… Officially Popped! Come read about it!” – Native Foods Café at The Lab, Costa Mesa

Native Foods Café at The Lab, Costa Mesa

Why does it look so appetizing?… My stomach says yes, but my heart of meat says no… Oh god, winter really is coming!…

This is how I felt leading up to my first go at a “veggie-burger” at Native Foods Café in Costa Mesa with my newest B.A. Buddy, Chelsea Walsh. If my high-school friends could see me now, geeze, they’re probably loling (yes, loling) at their computers right now. “I swear to god, I will never eat a ‘veggie-burger’, they are so dumb… A sad attempt by the vegetarians and vegans to replicate the awesomely amazing taste of that which is beef, and the great American hamburger!”… Oh eighteen-year-old Dom, you never cease to embarrass me. Moving past the ignorant statement above and onto my dinner plate, we meet at last.


Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger at Native Foods Café at The Lab, Costa Mesa

‘I might not actually survive this one’, I thought to myself. ‘No Dominic, no. You’re fooling yourself… This couldn’t. It just can’t. Take you down? Without meat? Yeah right- no way.’ Speaking of lacking meat, let’s see what this burger does have under the hood:

Menu Name: Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger ($9.95)

  • Whole Grain Bun
  • Native Original Seitan
  • “Cheddar” Cheese
  • Camelized and Raw Onions
  • Native “Bacon”
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Carrot Slices
  • Tomatoes
  • Battered Dill Pickle Chips

Calorie Count: They didn’t know…

After I officially popped my cherry and took my first bite, these were my thoughts: Super, super interesting. I definitely miss the meat, but everything else really tastes great.

The following thoughts were: I can’t put this thing down! It’s so damn good. The faux-bacon and faux-cheese are delicious. And the faux-turkey (Native Seitan), so fucking fantastic.

Biting down into this “veggie-burger” I did notice that the actual action of the “bite”, was less satisfying due to the absence of meat. I didn’t feel like I was digging my teeth into anything really. I like eating. I enjoy the whole process. I take all sensory applications and use them to their fullest whilst enjoying a meal. Thus, my teeth were a little sad.

‘But you know what Dom, it’s all good… it’s super healthy’, is what I thought to myself, ‘And hell, if I’m still hungry, I can just get another. I’ll still probably be eating less calories than a normal burger’. But oh wait, I can’t be positive on that because the place that markets itself as a healthy alternative to comfort food doesn’t know their own “healthy” calorie counts…

Anyway, the Seitan (noun. Sa•tan) was fantastic. When I said that I didn’t want to put it down, I wasn’t lying. Meanwhile, in between each bite, I was slamming the best sweet-potato fries I have ever had into my mouth one after another. And at $3.95, the fries are well worth it!

“Where’s the poop [Dom], where’s the poop?” – Lily Aldrin, How I Met Your Mother

Here’s the issue… And please, don’t get me wrong… The meal was absolutely phenomenal. Thinking about it right now, my stomach is grumbling. Problem was, it didn’t taste ANYTHING like a burger. Sure, it was held together with a bun, typically used for burgers; However aside from that, there really weren’t any similarities in taste. You had some of the same character make-up, but with the main ingredients so different in taste and texture from the actual main ingredients, you felt as though you were eating an amazing salad, held together by a hamburger bun. And you got fries on the side. It’s just the truth.

But don’t worry vegetarians/vegans (as if any of you read this blog), as I’ve said countless times before, it is quite a delectable meal. And if I find myself at Native Foods Café again, I will welcome the venue surprise and will order the “veggie-sandwhich-on-a-hamburger-bun”. But until you guys can get the “veggie-sandwhich-on-a-hamburger-bun” to actually taste like a burger, I will never again refer to a “veggie-sandwhich-on-a-hamburger-bun” as a “veggie-burger”. I welcome my former, and future B.A. Buddies to do the same.

Thus, due to the slight twist of events, there will be no burger ranking on any list. I still feel I can grade the meal, and so I will:

Grading Scale

  1. Burger taste… 9.0 out of 10
  2. Burger presentation… 8.5 out of 10
  3. Burger ingredients… 7.5 out of 10
  4. Price… 7.5 out of 10
  5. Knife test… FAIL (-1%)

TOTAL: 32.5/40 (-1%) = .802 – “B”

Special thanks to Chelsea Walsh for being the newest B.A. Buddy!
Chelsea Walsh at Native Foods Café at The Lab, Costa Mesa

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