First Dish: Beaut Burger

Nikki BuchananMarch 12, 2021
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Beaut Burger exterior | Photo by Nikki Buchanan

Everyone gets a hankering for a burger now and then — even vegetarians and vegans — which is the beauty of Beaut Burger, a Tucson-based vegan burger joint so successful that it’s recently opened a second location here in Phoenix. Housed in a crisp-looking refurbished shipping container on Indian School just east of 32nd Street, BB makes almost all of its fresh, plant-based food in-house — even its springy, slow-fermented English muffins and its gluten-free chia-millet bun — offering no answer or apology for the age-old “Where’s the beef?” question.

 

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Owners Ari Shapiro and Kerry Lane, who dreamed of creating a Shake Shack for vegans, eschew the whole mock meat trend, choosing instead to make their own patties out of grains, beans, veggies and spices. Their burgers taste nothing like a Beyond Burger, an Impossible Burger or even a sodium-loaded black bean patty from Morningstar Farms. Moist and vaguely rust-colored, they’re mild, herbal and pleasant tasting, with an earthy undertone that probably comes from beans. Given that vegan burgers are BB’s raison d’etre, the menu features 11 of them, and except for one classic burger and one classic cheeseburger (the Daiya-brand cheeses being one of the few products not made in-house), they’re creative and maybe even a little out there. That’s certainly the case for my favorite burger to date, the B7, topped with peanut butter, tamarind chutney and romaine. It’s a great combo — a little nutty, a little tangy, a little sweet — and I would eat it again in a heartbeat. The same goes for the more traditional B8, overlaid with frizzled onions (think fried onion strings), pickled poblano, fresh tomato and smoked tomato aioli. Not quite as beguiling as the B7 but pretty damned interesting nonetheless. For a carnivore like me, however, the classic cheeseburger (B2) isn’t compelling enough to order again, but I’m eager to try the B9 (roasted eggplant, pepita pesto and house-made mozzarella) as well as the semi-famous Wry Reuben, composed of tempeh, sauerkraut, Swiss and Thousand Island on marble rye. I’m dying to see how this riff on the Jewish deli classic holds up without corned beef.

 

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Hand-cut French fries are wonderfully potato-y, but next time, I’ll order them sans herb oil, which makes them a bit limp. Meanwhile, I find myself thinking there’s nothing particularly light or healthy about either flabby Old Bay-seasoned artichoke patties or heavy, beer-battered cauli bites, served with spicy buffalo sauce and house-made ranch. But hey, that’s just me.

For vegans, Beaut Burger probably feels like a godsend. For doggedly carnivorous burger fans, it’s a place to have a tasty, well-made vegan patty on a tasty, well-made bun filled with cool topping combos — something like a burger that’s animal-free and good for the planet but not exactly a burger.

3301 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 480-239-69983, beautburger.com

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