Veggie burgers have come a long way from the freezer-bitten block of questionable ingredients. The modern version is a wholesome patty made of any combination of black beans or chickpeas, quinoa, and vegetables. Knoxville has so many delicious vegetarian and vegan options, you might need to plan more than one trip to try them all. Read on for a handy checklist!
Coming up first is Balter Beerworks’ “Black Bean and Quinoa Veggie Burger”. Composed of onions, mushrooms, black beans, pimentos, quinoa, and oats there is no way you will be unimpressed. Balter is a scratch kitchen and hand-prepares everything using only the freshest ingredients. This burger is dressed in chipotle mayonnaise (not vegan), lettuce, tomato and onion stacked between white buns from the local Flour Head Bakery. This veggie burger can also be made all vegan and gluten free. We recommend to pair it with a pint of their Good Neighbor Kolsch because who doesn’t love a reason to enjoy a refreshing craft brew?
Aside from phenomenal food, Bistro at the Bijou is the most historic around spot to grab a bite. The building was built in the 1820’s as a hotel, turned Civil War hospital, turned theatre, and now also houses a farm-to-table style restaurant. This building has seen some things to say the least. Even presidents have stepped foot in this building including Ulysses. S Grant, Andrew Jackson, and Rutherford B. Hayes. There is plenty of time to brush up on some history before you go, but we are here to talk about their veggie burger classically named “The Basic” and is served between a savory roll with lettuce and tomato. Their ingredients are always fresh and locally sourced making it a no-brainer to grab a bite to eat here when visiting downtown.
3. Café 4
Café 4 is a favorite for locals and visitors alike with their fantastic patio in the heart of Market Square. Their “Burger Stack” comes with American cheese, shaved red onion, b&b pickles, optional bacon, special burger sauce all on a brioche bun (or a substitute gluten-free bread). But since you’re here for the veggie version, they’ve got two choices – a black bean burger or Mediterranean chickpea burger. We never promised to help make these decisions easy!
4. Corner 16
Corner 16 has two locations, one on Middlebrook and one on Northshore, both in West Knoxville. Try their “Awesome Avocado Jack Burger” a house-made plant-based grilled chickpea burger topped with sliced avocado and Monterey Jack cheese. Enjoy a touch of heat to complete with their fire roasted poblano sauce. If you’d rather come up with your own combo, do a build your own burger. You’ll find 9 cheeses, over 10 sauces, and all kinds of add-ons from caramelized onions to fried green tomatoes – the possibilities are endless!
5. Not Watson’s
If you are in the mood for great food served by friendly staff in a relaxing atmosphere in the heart of Downtown Knoxville, then Not Watson’s is the place go. They take pride in providing all organic and farm to table products that are purchased from local farmers. Their “Spicy Vegetarian Black Bean Burger” consists of pepper jack cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and red onion served with a choice of side. We recommend the crispy Brussels but hey, no one’s telling you what to do. They offer unbeatable daily drink specials, including half price bottles of wine on Mondays and $5 house martinis on Wednesdays.
For an option in the West Knoxville/Farragut area (perhaps while shopping in Turkey Creek), give Seasons a go. Their “Black Bean Quinoa Burger” is a crafted delight of blended roasted vegetable, quinoa, chickpeas and black bean, fresh avocado, pepper jack cheese, topped with pesto mayo. Your main problem will be figuring out when to visit: Mondays for Happy Hour All Day? Tuesdays for $2 off all burgers? Or Wednesdays with 1/2 price bottles of wine??
Simpl. is simply lovely. Located on Sevier Avenue in SoKno amongst a few of the best local breweries and restaurants, Simpl. offers an indoor – outdoor dining room and makes the perfect spot to grab an impressive meal any time of the day. Their “Black Bean Burger” made with sharp cheddar cheese, tomato jam, pickles, onion, greens, and spicy aioli on Scruffy Bakes sourdough brioche bun is unmatchable. The simple yet complex burger amazes your taste buds after each bite. We recommended their locally sourced vegetables or chili oil fries on the side. Feeling frisky? The Allykat cocktail pairs wonderfully. You heard it here first!
Up next is another Market Square fave with Stock and Barrel’s Black Bean and Quinoa Burger. Famously named “The Deadhead” there’s myth that Jerry Garcia named it himself. Traditionally the deadhead wears cheddar cheese, garlic aioli, bourbon onions, tomato, and greens but do not hesitate to scan through the other burger options to replace them with the black bean patty. Beware the Ring of Fire - It truly lives up to its name. Stock and Barrel is a special place to support because of their farm to table and sustainable concept while emphasizing the finest bourbons around.
Not to brag, but Sunspot’s Black Bean Burger made Peta’s Top 10 Vegan Burger Awards in the US. It’s house-made with quinoa, beets & portabella mushrooms, chipotle mayo, arugula, guacamole, cucumber, tomato. Sunspot is well known in Knoxville for vegetarian and vegan options, so you’ll be back for more once you’ve seen their creative menu. Pro tip – try to snag a sun yellow umbrella on their patio and watch all the action on “the Strip” adjacent to the University of Tennessee’s campus.
10. The Tomato Head
The Tomato Head is a local favorite and well known for their vegan and vegetarian fare with a location downtown and another near the West Town Mall. You’ll find on the menu the “Veggie Burger” which consists of a house made patty assembled with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, and red onion. They also offer sandwiches consisting of house marinated tofu and fresh, locally sourced ingredients perfectly stacked between Flour Head Bakery buns. If visiting the Market Square location, make sure to try their vegan ice cream sandwiches for a tasty treat.