By Wes Brown and Charles Matranga
Oxford Canteen’s “Impossible Burger”
SharkBite Overall score: 7.9
Guest Overall score: 9
When we set out to find the best burger in Oxford, we never considered eating a non-meat burger. That all changed when our social media followers recommended we try the Canteen’s “Impossible Burger”, a vegetarian burger (vegan if ordered without butter and cheese) made with a plant-based patty.
Operating under the misguided assumption that every vegan meal looks like something gardeners would haul around in a wheelbarrow, we weren’t sure what to expect. To help us navigate this uncharted territory, we reached out to the only vegan we know: Richard Gershon, our law school professor and former dean of the Law School.
Even though the Impossible Burger is vegetarian, we decided to rate it with the same scrutiny as every meat-based burger in Oxford. Although it didn’t taste exactly like meat, we still applied the same categories as the rest of our burgers. Surprisingly, the “Impossible Burger” held its own. We were served the “pizza burger” which comes topped with mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, onions, garlic butter, and pizza sauce. It didn’t taste like pizza, but still would have ranked above Hunts Bros. in last semester’s pizza review. But don’t be surprised if you can’t get it on your next visit, the Canteen rotates the style of their Impossible Burger every couple of weeks.
Putting a literal spin on Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” ad campaign, this non-meat patty was actually impressive. It was fried thin and crispy, but still somehow juicy. The best part of the burger was the novel addition of pizza sauce, mainly because it distracted us from wondering about how a plant-based burger could be “juicy.” The tanginess of the sauce was a solid replacement for the lack of savory flavor you get from an actual beef patty. The zest of the garlic butter perfectly complemented the creamy sweetness of the mozzarella cheese.
The side items were the most disappointing part of our protein-deficient experience. We ordered “locally sourced chips” produced from the very non-local location of Mt. Jackson, Virginia, and macaroni salad served in a single Sam’s club sample cup. The macaroni salad was delicious, but only having a spoonful to share left us stopping for fast food on our way home.
Professor Gershon was just as impressed with this burger as we were. After his first bite, Gershon said, “It tastes exactly like I remember meat tasting, and I haven’t eaten meat since the ’80s.” Not only is Gershon a vegan, but he also runs 20 miles per week. After all of that exercise, Gershon was probably craving something that didn’t look and taste like the compost bin of our grandmother’s garden.
If you’re at Oxford Canteen and looking to get out of your comfort zone, you won’t regret trying their Impossible Burger.
Living Foods’ Beet & Quinoa Burger
SharkBite Overall score: 6.0
“Wakey wakey eggs and bakey” is a SharkBite approved way to greet someone first thing in the morning. The people over at Living Foods probably say something like, “wakey wakey veggies and tofu,” but that just doesn’t have the same ring. Although it sits right on the edge of Oxford across from Lamar Park, Living Food’s atmosphere and price tag scream Southern California. Although it looks unassuming on the outside, this is one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in the city. Boyfriends beware.
We ordered “whatever is the best veggie burger,” which they were sold out of. Strike one. What we ended up with was their Beet & Quinoa Burger. That’s right, a beet burger. Strike one and a half. We had heard great things about their most popular side, the sweet potato salad, but they were sold out of it as well. Strike two. Seeing the Frankenstein-esk monstrosity they called a burger coming toward us was strike three.
We asked the employee if the beets came from Schrute farms, a valid question. Instead of entertaining that question, she informed us that the Beet & Quinoa Burger was topped with caramelized onions, avocado, spinach, and garlic aioli. The toppings were honestly a highlight of our meal. The caramelized onions and the creaminess of the avocado were welcome after eating so many lettuce, tomato, and cheeseburgers.
Truthfully, the only real reason for us to eat this burger again would be if our girlfriends told us to eat more vegetables and there were no other vegetable options on Earth. Ordering this because you’re craving a burger is like drinking a Pamplemousse La Croix because you’re hungry for grapefruit – it just doesn’t make sense.
Sitting in Living Foods we saw many people come in and out buying fruit juices and smoothies. They looked delicious, but our student loan disbursements hadn’t deposited yet, so we were on a limited budget. If you want to take a cute pic for the ‘Gram after buying some fresh juice to restart your juice cleanse for the 6th week in a row, Living Foods might be the place for you. If, like us, you’re looking for the best burger in Oxford, check back with us next week!