The Best Veggie Burgers in LA Are in the Last Place You’d Look
Los Angeles has long been known as a haven for plant-based food: From fine dining to food trucks, delicious plant-forward fare is likely at your fingertips no matter where you are in the city. But the bar is high, and any newcomer onto the LA vegan food scene is sure to be scrutinized down to every detail.
This is why after seeing a barrage of food porn on Instagram in the form of colorful veggie burgers adorned in green, purple, pink, and yellow buns from a new spot called Flower Burger, I was skeptical. Was this a situation of ‘beauty is only bun-deep’? I had to find out.
First, I must give some prefacing remarks: Growing up in LA and following the coming (and going) of plant-based restaurants for over the last 20 years or so, veggie burgers are the thing I love the most—and hate the most if not done well. And I’m not talking about the new-age meat replicas of the world like Beyond Burgers, I’m talking about good ‘ole minimally processed veggie patties (composed of beans or lentils, or tofu, and so on) made in all their glory...or disaster.
The Flower Burger Culver City location, which opened in May 2021, is the first locale in the US and serves as the company's commercial kitchen (for delivery, and forward-coming retail stores with the first being West Hollywood). They also recently added a pick-up option, which I opted for, so I could try these burgers fresh off the grill.
Sandwiched between commercial buildings and residential apartments just behind Venice Blvd. in a nondescript alley, you’ll find the Flower Burger pick-up window easily identified by a brightly painted wall adorned with burgers and flowers, and a blue screen door with a little pick-up window. I sat in my car, ordered online, and within about 10 minutes, my garden of diverse colorful burgers was ready. I laid out a number of burgers in the back of my car studying each one like some sort of science experiment and hoping that the taste matches up with the beauty.
You need to know something about Flower Burger: their burgers are complex, but not overwhelming. All are layered with a strategic concoction of plant toppings and sauces.
The Jungle ($12.95): Green bun with an oat and red bean patty, baked zucchini, courgettes, Flower Cheddar, lettuce, and tomatoes finished with Wild Sauce (which has a tad bit of a BBQ taste to it).
The Flower Burger ($13.95): Purple bun with a seitan and red kidney bean patty topped with Flower Cheddar, soybean sprouts, lettuce tomato and above Magik sauce (a mayo-meets-thousand-island-taste).
The Cherry Bomb ($12.95): Pink bun with a lentil and basmati rice patty, tomato confit, Rocktail Sauce and soybean sprouts.
There is also the Classic Chickpea ($9.95), Spicy Chickpea ($11.95) and Tangy Chickpea ($11.95) made with a chickpea patty and differentiated by various sauces and fixings.
All cheeses and sauces are made in-house. They have seven different sauces used to top various burgers and to dip sides (which can also be ordered on the side as well). You can do a combo that includes a burger plus a choice of one side. Side options are a choice of edamame, potato wedges, or Patatas Bravas, which are potato wedges drizzled with spicy sauce, and Flower Mayo. Also of note is an appetizer, the Flower Bombs, which are eight little bites made of seitan and red kidney beans which come with a choice of two sauces. There are also a few dessert options including the local Craig’s vegan ice cream by the pint and Chocolate Salami which might sound appetizing, but they have re-invented this tasty classic Italian crispy biscuit for the veg eater. They also serve Olipop, the California-based low-sugar prebiotic soda brand.
You might be wondering how they color their buns. They use all plant ingredients to do so and don’t use any artificial flavors or coloring in their food. The yellow bun is colored by adding turmeric to the dough. The green-bunned Jungle Burger is colored using algae. The Flower Burger and its purple bun are colored with purple carrot extract. While attention to the patties, sides, and burger fixings are in focus, the team clearly takes deep pride in those colorful buns that enticed me in the first place.
Flower Burger imports its flour from Italy, as well as the ovens used to bake their buns. They even brought over the Flower Burger executive chef from Italy, whom I met briefly while getting a peek inside the facility. Out of a huge, ceiling-high oven he wheeled out a 10-foot-high rack with perfectly round yellow buns that looked like something out of a scene in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory—if Willy Wonka was making bread instead of chocolate.
The colorful buns might seemingly be a gimmick, but one bite of a Flower Burger and you’ll understand why there is so much more to be admired between these colorful bread clouds. Flower Burger is carefully crafting vegan burger masterpieces, void of the new-age faux meats, and teeming with whole plant-food ingredients synchronized in perfect harmony to create quite possibly the best—and unquestionably the most beautiful—burger in LA. And they are just getting started.
Order online at flowerburger.us or from UberEats, DoorDash, or Grubhub.