Vegan sandwiches at fast-food chains are no longer difficult to come by, but before Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat infiltrated drive-thru culture, vegan restaurants were making their own super-stacked veggie burgers. While vegans and omnivores have raved over the Burger King Impossible Whopper and the Carl’s Jr. Beyond Famous Star (we are still waiting on the McPlant to hit the golden arches in the US) these 19 plant-based burgers prove vegan joints do it best. From Los Angeles to New York City to local gems in between, vegan handholds are putting the Big Mac to shame.
1. Le Fou Royale at Es Todo, Los Angeles, CA
True to its name, the physics-defying number of ingredients on this sandwich is bananas. This triple-decker vegan burger from Es Todo is made with three Impossible and Beyond patties and layered with Beyond sausage, pickles, mixed greens, tomatoes, caramelized onions, vegan American and cheddar cheese, and dairy-free Thousand Island dressing—somehow all (barely) contained by two toasted seeded buns. For a burger you might actually get your mouth around, opt for The Cult, which is made with a single Impossible patty and your standard burger toppings of pickles, tomatoes, Thousand Island dressing, vegan cheese, and mixed greens on a potato bun.
Monty’s Good Burger
2. Double at Monty’s Good Burger, multiple locations, CA
Coined the “Vegan In-N-Out,” Monty’s aptly mimics this Southern California burger chain right down to the secret sauce. This signature sandwich is stacked with two Impossible patties, melty Follow Your Heart cheese, house spread, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and grilled onions on a local bakery potato bun. Pair with a side of crispy-yet-tender fries and a strawberry shake.
3. Megamouth at Superiority Burger, New York City, NY
This vegetarian sandwich shop is no bigger than a spacious walk-in-closet, but it seems to be on every top-ten list in relation to NYC eats and burgers in general. Available vegan (omit the Munster cheese), the Megamouth features a phenomenal housemade vegetable patty simply paired with tomato, pickles, and iceberg lettuce on a sesame seed bun in a convienent grab bag featuring signature sides. Sometimes simplicity can be a standout.
4. Truffle Burger at Freesoulcaffe, Tustin, CA
In full transparency, the size of this burger is a bit underwhelming. However, for what it lacks in volume, it makes up in flavor. Made with a beefy vegetable-based patty and topped with caramelized onions, sauteéd mushrooms, and truffle aioli on a flax seed bun, this handheld from Freesoulcaffe is the most gourmet burger on our list.
5. The Burgerlords Vegan Burger at Burgerlords, Los Angeles, CA
This veg-friendly mainstay’s newly revamped—and now entirely plant-based—menu is cause for celebration. Opt for the signature Vegan Burger featuring a housemade patty and topped with Follow Your Heart cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and Burgerlords’ signature 2,000 Island sauce. Pair your handheld with a side of animal-style Lord of the Fries and a tahini milkshake for true bliss.
6. Fussy Hussy at Slutty Vegan, Atlanta, GA
What began as a local foodtruck has become a popular vegan microchain in Georgia’s capital. Each menu item is a solid choice, but if you’re looking for a McDonald’s replica, the Slutty Vegan’s Fussy Hussy is where it’s at. Dive into a plant-based patty topped with vegan cheese, caramelized onions, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and Slut Sauce. What makes this burger even better than the Big Mac? It comes sandwiched between two vegan Hawaiian buns. Pinky Cole, you’re making our dreams come true!
7. The Big D at Doomie’s Home Cookin’, Los Angeles, CA
You have to ask for the secret menu to order this Big Mac copycat at LA’s Doomie’s Home Cookin’. Piled high with two vegan patties and three buns—in addition to all the standard Big Mac toppings—one would never guess this burger didn’t come through the drive-thru.
8. Bac’n Cheezeburger at Arlo’s, Austin, TX
If you live for classic bacon cheeseburgers, get yourself to one of three Arlo’s permanent food stands in Austin. The sandwich boasts a juicy gluten-free seitan patty topped with housemade bac’n, melty cheese, an assortment of condiments (ketchup, mayo, and mustard), onions, pickles, and lettuce. Live by the phrase, “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” and make it a double.
Next Level Burger
9. The Maverick at Next Level Burger, multiple locations
With locations in California, Oregon, Washington, New York, and Texas, Next Level Burger is redefining fast food one state at a time. Many of its seven locations can be found in Whole Foods Markets. Skip the hot bar and head to the Next Level register to order The Maverick made with a house-seasoned Beyond patty slathered with special sauce, your choice of vegan cheese, crispy onion rings, tempeh bacon, smoky barbecue sauce, dill pickles, lettuce, and tomato between an organic wheat bun.
Green New American Vegetarian
10. Big WAC at Green New American Vegetarian, Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix’s favorite casual vegan eatery, Green New American Vegetarian, has a burger on its menu to rival all other fast-food contenders—the Big WAC. There’s nothing fancy about it—just a double patty served with special sauce, pickles, cheese, lettuce, and onions on a traditional sesame seed bun—but this sandwich is perfect in its simplicity.
11. Modern Cheeseburger at Modern Love, Omaha, NB and Brooklyn, NYC
Rest assured, none of the ingredients in the Modern Love Cheeseburger are commercially produced. Bite into this scratch-made bad boy made with a seitan bean patty, cashew cheddar, tomato, lettuce, red onion, pickles, and fancy sauce and you’re on your way to burger bliss. Bonus: the sandwich comes with your choice of fries, a green salad, or potato salad.
12. Mac Daddy at Homegrown Smoker, Portland, OR
This legendary vegan barbecue joint does more than just soy curls and sides—its burgers are finger-lickin’ good as well. Grab a napkin (or six) and sink your teeth into the Mac Daddy. The barbecue sauce, pickles, and macnocheese, will surely slide off the smokey soy patty onto your fingers, but it’s worth the mess.
13. The Dirty Secret at J Selby’s, Minneapolis, MN
J Selby’s is a solid contributor to Minneapolis’ burgeoning vegan food scene. Known for its plant-based renditions of fast-food, bar, and diner dishes, you can bet the menu includes a stellar Big Mac-style burger. The kitchen relies on two beefy vegan patties to mimic this McDonald’s icon.
14. Smokehouse Burger at HipCityVeg, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC
You can’t go wrong at HipCityVeg. The fan-favorite Smokehouse Burger is sure to satisfy even the biggest cravings. Made with a Beyond Meat patty and topped with crispy onions, tangy barbecue sauce, and smoked gouda, pair this veg handheld with sweet potato fries and a Banana Whip for a meal you won’t soon forget.
15. Kendall Square at Veggie Galaxy, Cambridge, MA
Veggie Galaxy grabbed the attention of Food Network star Guy Fierri and was featured on the popular Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives primetime show. While the menu offers several standout burgers to choose from, the one that most resembles the Big Mac is the Kendall Square. Made with a sweet potato and black bean burger, roasted red pepper sauce, onion rings, roasted garlic mayo, and baby arugula, this sandwich beats anything we’ve ordered from a drive-thru window.
16. Cheeseburger Deluxe at Munchies Diner, Santa Ana, CA
Orange County, CA isn’t necessarily known for its diner culture, but Munchies has recently put the beachside region on the map. The menu is bursting with over-the-top diner-style indulgences, including the Cheeseburger Deluxe—a charbroiled house patty burger coated in melted American cheese and stacked high with lettuce, pickles, onions, G sauce, tomatoes, sandwiched between toasted sesame seed buns. If you have room, add a VcFlurry for an added touch of sweet nostalgia.
17. The VG Classic at Veggie Grill, multiple locations
Veg chain and safe haven Veggie Grill has been slinging plant-based favorites since 2006. The simple VG Classic is a can’t miss. Order this Beyond patty topped with lettuce, tomato, American cheese and special sauce for a Big Mac taste that’s better than the Mickey D’s original.
18. The Mac Daddy Burger at Vegenation, Las Vegas, NV
Representative of its hometown, this burger is nothing short of “extra.” Vegenation’s southern spin on the Big Mac features a vegan patty topped with mac and cheese, collard greens, gochujang barbecue sauce, and secret sauce. It comes with fries, but the loaded sweet potato tots should not be ignored.
19. HUMBL Burger at HUMBL, Windermere, FL
Celebrity chef and restauranteur Matthew Kenney’s first foray into fast food nailed it with HUMBL’s namesake burger. The complex yet so satisfying 17-ingredient patty is accompanied by creamy cashew cheddar cheese, crisp lettuce, tomato, pickles, herbed aioli, and spicy carrot mustard—all stacked between two fluffy burger buns. Complete your order with a creamy milkshake, and you’ve got yourself an unparalleled burger experience.
Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.
Photo credit: Modern Love Omaha