Wow, I really didn’t intend to go a full two months between posts for my series on Nashville’s best veggie burgers, but other things just kept coming up. Nonetheless, my quest continues. I’ve already reviewed Pied Piper Eatery, PM, and Fat Mo’s. In the last two months, I’ve been busy stuffing my face so I’ve got Bobbie’s Dairy Dip, Burger Up, and The Pharmacy to review now.
Bobbie’s doesn’t make their own patties, but I thought to include them because they offer both a black bean burger and a Gardenburger to choose from. How many restaurants have two veggie burgers on the menu? The black bean burger is actually the preferred sandwich of Mr. Eats since it comes with guacamole, salsa, and jalapenos. The Gardenburger is just the standard restaurant-issue patty, but it’s prepared well and is tasty. The real stars of the show at Bobbie’s are the milkshakes, though, including the Mr. Eats’s favorite, the Ali Baba (chai, banana, cinnamon mixed into chocolate/vanilla swirl) and mine, the Heath bar milkshake (in vanilla). I also love their sweet potato fries that aren’t battered like the popular fries now and are served with a container of sweetened sour cream.
The Bobbie’s Dairy Dip location at 5301 Charlotte Avenue closes for the winter, but the downtown location (223 Fourth Ave. N.) is open year-round. This is good news, particularly for those of us who like their food as much as their ice cream treats.
Burger Up’s veggie burger is the Marathon burger, which is a patty of quinoa and black beans dusted in panko and served with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and cilantro lime crème fraiche. The first time I had this burger, it was superb. Perfect. The patty was large and flat, crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. Other times, it’s not been as flat, so the inside felt a little mushier (there’s a fine line between moist and mushy with this combo). But the taste was still fantastic.
Unfortunately, I later learned that burgers weren’t vegetarian; they were made with the housemade ketchup that contained traditional Worcestershire sauce (which has anchovy paste in it). Thanks to Lacey, though, this problem was brought to their attention and they have since switched to a vegan Worcestershire. There’s still some confusion as to whether the bun is vegan (though it is vegetarian), but I’ve heard that the Marathon patty atop a salad is just as delicious (and they have several tasty-sounding salads to choose from).
Their house fries appear to be hand cut and are fantastic (though it's not really worth the upgrade to have them drizzled with truffle oil). Next time I go, I’ll need to try the sweet potato fries and compare them to Bobbie’s. The Marathon is filling, but if you have the room, the Krispy Kreme donut pudding is fantastic.
The original Burger Up (2901 12th Avenue South) is the only location I’ve visited, but there’s an additional location in Cool Springs (401b Cool Springs Boulevard) that—I hear—offers unlimited house fries (maybe just lunch?). That’s a pretty good deal, though those burgers are filling, so I’m sure they don’t lose a lot of money on it.
Remember when I asked how many restaurants have two veggie burgers on the menu? As in, up there in the second paragraph? The Pharmacy is another in this rare class, offering both a falafel burger and a black bean burger.
Each time I go, I struggle trying to decide which to get. Most of the vegetarians I know prefer the falafel burger, because they think that the black bean burger is dry. I have never had that experience, though. And I think the black bean burger is actually my favorite of the two. I do get it topped with lime crema fresca, tomato, and lettuce (and sometimes guacamole), so that may help. I will say that it has a tendency to fall apart a bit, but that doesn’t really bother me. Some people skip the bun; do not skip the bun! These buns are a treat in and of themselves as they are baked locally by Provence Breads. They are so good.
Anyhoo, be sure to get that lime crema fresca just in case the burger is a bit dry. The combination of it with lettuce and tomato just barely puts it ahead of the falafel burger, though the addition of Noble Springs goat cheese to that patty is amazing. Just the right amount of tang.
There are several other things to know about dining at The Pharmacy. You must have either the tater tots (cooked to a perfect crisp), the fries or the sweet potato fries. All are excellent. And if you get tots or regular fries, be sure to ask for a side of the curried ketchup (different from the bottled ketchup on the table). I’ve tried (and failed) to recreate this ketchup at home. It’s not spicy hot, but has a nice smoky curry flavor. Maybe smoked paprika along with curry powder? I’m not sure, but I love it.
Also, The Pharmacy (731 Mcferrin Avenue) has a large beer garden outside and during warm months and before 9pm, it’s family-friendly. That said, The Pharmacy is popular. If you want to eat before 7pm, you need to show up for the first round of seating around 5:00. Showing up at 6:00 will usually mean waiting for an hour or more (depending on where you want to sit) as the first round of people finishes eating. It can be frustrating if you have a little one in tow, but if you don’t and you don’t mind hanging out on the street for a long time, the food is definitely worth the wait. Early lunches are a good alternative, too.
Next up, I plan to work up the nerve to stand in line at Gabby’s plus do a review of my favorite storebought veggie burgers. I know you all are breathless in anticipation.