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Meatless wonder: 7 of the best veggie burgers in Columbus

614now Staff

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So you didn’t work out today, you ate a donut from the box in the break room, and your gut is still recovering from a long weekend of binge eating. Maybe red meat isn’t exactly what your body needs today.

Why not spring for a veggie burger instead? You’ll be doing your bod some good but it’ll taste so good your mind will think it’s indulgent beef.

Here are seven of the best veggie burgs around town.

Bareburger   

463 and 4560 N High St.

Fans of traditional burgers who want a meatless option should swing by one of Bareburger’s two locations on High Street. They offer a classy lineup of real meat hamburgers, but they also serve a patty that that seems like a scientific anomaly. That’s why it’s called the Impossible Burger. This faux-meat patty is nearly indistinguishable from real beef.

It looks, feels, smells, and even bleeds like a standard burger. Topped with American cheese, pickles, lettuce, stout onions, and special sauce, this burger is a perfect stand-in for the real thing. Eat it for your health. Eat it for the environment. Eat it because you want a tasty burger.

Eden Burger

1437 N High St.

Eden Burger’s offerings don’t contain meat or dairy products, but they taste more all-American than many real-meat burgers do. Depending on which variation you get, your burger might come topped with convincing vegan cheese, tempeh bacon, onion rings, or their signature Eden sauce, which tastes about as vegan as buttermilk ranch.

The patty itself is a hand-crafted recipe the owners started honing long before the restaurant opened last year. Beans, pumpkin seeds, and spices give it a full flavor profile all its own.

Eden burgers come in a few variations, but the real star of the show is the BBQ Western burger. It has an Eden patty dressed up with onion rings, BBQ sauce, ranch, and fried jalepeños. This thing is an absolute flavor bomb, offering all the richness and decadence you could possibly want in a burger, meatless or not.

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Passport 196

2816 Fishinger Rd.

The “196” in this Upper Arlington eatery’s name comes from the total number of countries in the world. The idea behind Passport 196 is that its dishes are meant to bring the world’s flavors under one roof. In the case of the veggie burger, that global mingling happens right on your tongue. The patty is a house-made concoction of ingredients from all around: black beans and chipotle peppers from the Americas, couscous from Israel, and basmati rice from Asia. Despite the geographically disparate ingredients, the flavors work together to form a cohesive whole. The patty, along with a complement of standard toppings, are served on a toasted brioche bun. Throw some house fries on the side, and you’ve got yourself a satisfying, worldly meal.

Arch City Tavern

862 N High St.

Arch City Tavern offers an array of lauded real-meat patties, including a gut-busting bison burger. But if you’re looking for a meatless option, they have you covered on that front, too. Their spiced bean burger can go hand-to-hand against any of their bloodier offerings. Made with walnuts and black beans, and topped with cheddar cheese, sautéed onions, lettuce, and tomato, this burger lights up every taste bud on your tongue. Best of all, you can try any of Arch City Tavern’s burgers for $5 every Monday. And if you make your visit coincide with the happy hour (3-6 p.m. weekdays), you can sip draft beer or wine for half price. Whether you eat meat or not, that’s a fine way to spend a weekday afternoon.

J. Alexanders

4000 Stelzer Rd.

and 7550 Vantage Dr.

J. Alexanders isn’t trying to satisfy your carnivorous cravings with its veggie burger. This unique, savory meal has more on its mind than that.

That’s no mistake: “meal” is right word for this two-hander. The patty is composed of roasted beets, rice, carrots, and other flavorful stuff. It’s topped with cheese, lettuce, onion, and pickle, and served on a crisp toasted bun slathered with mayo. The veggie burger is also one of the least expensive items on the menu, leaving you with a fat enough wallet to indulge in an extra appetizer or another round of drinks.

Worthington Inn

649 High St.

The Worthington Inn is perhaps best-known for its weekend brunch, which features a 15-topping Bloody Mary bar. But even if you’re not a day drinker, you should still stop by for the house-made veggie burger. When crafting the meatless patty, executive chef Mike Waters says he was inspired by the North Star burger. But instead of copying that culinary treat, he and his team experimented with various combinations of grains and legumes to see if they could come up with something different but equally good. The result is a delicious patty made with black beans, quinoa, carrots, spinach, mushroom, garlic, onion, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar. It packs so much flavor you wouldn’t even need the cheese, veggies, and roasted pepper aioli you’ll also find between the bun. But since they’re there, it would be a shame to let them go to waste.

Harvest Moon Craft Kitchen

7 N High St., Canal Winchester

If you’re willing to venture past the outskirts of the city, you’ll find a veggie burger at Harvest Moon Craft Kitchen that makes the trek worthwhile. Despite the name “Craft Kitchen,” the owners think of the joint as a “scratch kitchen,” because just about everything they serve is made from scratch. That includes an array of burgers made from beef, bison, elk, or wagyu. But it also goes for their veggie burger, whose patty is made from black beans and cashews. The toppings cohere nicely—avocado, cilantro lime aioli, lettuce, tomato, and feta cheese. All that flavor comes stacked on a brioche bun and served with a simple salad.

By  / Originally appeared in (614) Mar 1, 2018

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Food & Drink

Strip Mall Surprise: A treasure trove of bourbons, pub food at McClellan’s

Aaron Wetli

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Welcome back to Strip Mall Surprise, where we highlight locally owned restaurants and bars that just happen to be located in a, wait for it, Strip Mall. Today’s installment is a little different as it focuses on a Irish pub with great food and one of the largest bourbon, scotch, and whiskey selections in Central, Ohio: McClellan's Pub.

Opened six years ago by Amy Schirtzinger and nestled off of Sawmill Road, McClellan’s is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. Upon arrival, patrons are greeted by a friendly and knowledgeable staff and offered seats at a large bar or medium sized dining area, where they can peruse a high-end pub food menu and get lost in the bottle selection.

Bourbon is uber popular right now and in Ohio, November is a big month for new releases. If you can’t locate that small batch release from a giant distillery or the single barrel offering from a smaller operation, odds are with their 500 bottle selection, McClellan’s Pub can pour a shot of what you are looking for.

And what a selection it is: Whistle Pig, Weller, Woodford Reserve, McKenna, Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Elmer T and Pappy Van Winkle (among others) for as far as the eye can see. When I asked Schritzinger how many of the notoriously hard-to-locate Pappys she had, her response was simple, "All of them."

So what made service industry veteran Schirtzinger decide to open a bourbon-centric Irish pub?

"I’m Irish and proud and love whiskey and pubs," she said. "Plus, I enjoy looking at all of the pretty bottles."

One of those pretty bottles that will soon (think Christmas time) be behind the bar is the W.L. Weller Full Proof. McClellan’s won’t be the only location in Central, Ohio to get this particular pour, but it may be the first, so make sure the bourbon nerd in your life is aware of this fact.

As for the food I mentioned earlier, my go-to selections are the spicy and rich Sriracha Bourbon wings (70 cents each on Wednesday) or the crispy and robust Fish and Chips ($6 on Tuesday). You can also can’t go wrong with Guinness BBQ Pork Sandwich, Prime Rib Sliders (love the horseradish and caramelized onions) or the Irish Nachos; a concoction of sliced potatoes topped with pulled pork, beer cheese, sour cream and jalapenos all smothered in the Guinness BBQ sauce.

What are you waiting for? Get out there, drink some brown, and support local.

McClellan’s Pub is located at 6694 Sawmill Rd. Visit mcclellanspub.com for more info.

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Food & Drink

Downtown deli merger means more meats on the menu

614now Staff

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Who says all good things must come to an end? While Danny’s Deli will be closing its brick-and-mortar location at 37 W Broad St., all of your favorites from the Columbus institution are now available at Lexi’s on Third at 100 E Broad St.

Customers can be sure they’re still getting the true Danny’s staples because the owner of Lexi’s on Third, Dan Georges, is the not only the namesake—he’s the same man behind the original Danny’s Deli on Broad and Front Street.

When Dan was offered an opportunity to build his own dream kitchen in 2011, he sold Danny’s Deli to his uncle and opened Lexi’s on Third, named after his daughter, Alexiana. When his uncle retired earlier this year, Dan closed the Columbus location of Danny’s Deli and brought all of the most-loved items to Lexi’s on Third.

“I am honored to continue the family legacy of a quality dining experience. Thank you for your loyalty and patronage,” said Dan Georges in a statement.

The Danny’s Deli originals now offered at Lexi’s on Third include breakfast specials, omelettes, sandwiches and wraps, salads, burgers, melts, and more. To see the whole menu, visit lexisonthird.com.

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Food & Drink

VASO Arctic Adventure: Win an igloo dining experience

Regina Fox

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You know that first warm-ish day in March or April when a sliver of sun breaks through the grey winter sky, warming the dry, pasty faces of overzealous people packing every patio known to man? The General Manager of the AC Hotel by Marriott Columbus Dublin Orcun Turkay wanted to give those people an outdoor dining experience they didn’t have to wait until spring to enjoy.

Scroll down to win $200 towards an arctic adventure of your own!

On a windy, rainy day in mid-winter, my trusty (614) confidants and I crowded into the elevator at the AC Hotel Columbus Dublin and selected the top floor. It was the first time visiting for many of us and we were excited to finally experience it. When the elevator finally stopped, the doors glided open to reveal an inviting hostess. She welcomed us to VASO. 

The rooftop bar and tapas restaurant is absolutely gorgeous. All its features are round—orb lights, half circle bench seating, circular rugs, curved bar—and the natural lighting made the happy faces of happy hour-goers at the bar look even happier. The panoramic view of the Scioto River and downtown Dublin is one of the best in Central Ohio. But, for the next few months, the view will be slightly obscured for folks dining in. 

The hostess led us out onto the patio where three geometric-looking igloos sat, poised for hospitality. Made of plastic and PVC pipes anchored by sandbags, these see-through huts are simple and wildly attractive. They’re unique, cozy, and, most importantly, warm. I couldn’t wait to get inside out of the cold and actually have an enjoyable patio experience in the dead of Ohio winter.

The hostess unzipped the doorway and we filed in across the oriental rug. The inside was surprisingly spacious, even with six chairs, a few side tables, and one communal table in the middle. I took a seat in one of the faux fur-covered chairs (which I later found out cost $1,200 each), covered my legs with a soft blanket, and switched on the heater. I was perfectly comfortable without the extra accommodations, but I was in an upscale igloo and, dammit, I was going to act like it.

We were all quick to draw our phones to begin snapping photos. We could see rush hour traffic inching down Riverside Drive, but being in the igloo felt like we were our own little Instagrammable world. 

After putting in orders of hot chocolate and the Ohio spiked cider from the exclusive VASO Igloo shareable menu and the popcorn and Halibut Ceviche (which landed itself on the [web]pages of Esquire Magazine), Turkay humbly explained how his establishment became one of the first in the Midwest to introduce igloo dining as a light rain pinged the top of the plastic igloo.

He told us about how strongly central Ohioans have embraced the new eating and drinking adventure. Turkay knew he’d have to hire more people this winter to staff the igloos, but what he didn’t count on was the manpower it would require to simply manage the influx of calls.

“They answer the phone, take a reservation, hang up, answer the phone, take a reservation, hang up,” Turkay said of the three hostesses he brings in at 10 a.m. every day just to man the phones. I laughed in disbelief, choking a bit on my popcorn ceviche (delicious, by the way). I washed away the kernels with a swig of boozy hot chocolate (also delicious). 

Suffice it to say, the VASO igloos are a raging success, so much so that you won’t be getting in on a weekend this winter. The tiny ecosystems are booked up through March, which is when they’ll be retired for the season. Turkay promises to have them back up in November.

After everything from cheese-filled churros to seafood paella (which were ordered by hailing our server with a remote that buzzed her wrist piece), the sun set and was replaced by LED light beams illuminating our cozy clubhouse; it was our time to go. I took one last look around and felt thankful to be on the inside looking out, even just for the evening. •

VASO is located at 6540 Riverside Dr, Dublin. The igloos can be reserved for a minimum of $100 per hour Sundays-Wednesdays and $200 per hour Thursdays-Saturdays. Visit vasodublin.com for more information. 

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