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Burger roundup: Two restaurants, four patties, zero cows

For National Hamburger Month: A taste test of non-beef burgers at Hell's Kitchen and Uncle Frankie's
For National Hamburger Month: A taste test of non-beef burgers at Hell's Kitchen and Uncle Frankie's

To celebrate Hamburger Month, the Hot Dish has been sampling various burgers around Minneapolis.  We've tested black bean burgers on the West Bank and veggie burgers on Lyndale Avenue.

In this edition, we visit a downtown dining destination and a Nordeast/Dinkytown lunch counter to sample four burgers: two made of meat and two with no meat.

HELL'S KITCHEN Bison and Portobello Burgers

This downtown eatery boasts a menu designed to support its hip and eclectic philosophy.  As such, Hell's Kitchen has two alternatives to beef burgers on its menu; bison and portobello mushroom.

Bison is a meat that has garnered more attention in the last decade.  Once relegated to specialty food stores and remotely located gift shops, bison has been available at the decidedly mainstream Cub Foods stores for years.

The texture of bison is indistinguishable from lean beef, and the taste is so similar that most people wouldn't notice it wasn't beef.

This bison burger is the Jamaican Jerk burger ($14.50).  The jerk spices further serve to mask any potential flavor discrepancy from beef.  The grilled pineapple provides a hint of sweetness to counter the habanero pepperjack cheese melted on top.

The Portobello Meatless Mushroom "Burger" with Swiss ($13.25) is an entire portobello cap, char-broiled with a healthy slab of Swiss melted in.  The cheese likely helps to keep the moisture in the mushroom, enabling a blast of warm juice with each bite.

UNCLE FRANKY'S Salmon and Veggie Burgers

Uncle Franky's salmon burger
Uncle Franky's salmon burger

Uncle Franky's is an old-fashioned hamburger/hot dog grill with several locations around the Metro: Dinkytown, Plymouth, Nordeast, and three "satellite locations" inside of Home Depot stores. We visited the simple, casual Nordeast location to sample two of its more obscure menu items: a salmon burger and a veggie burger.

The salmon is a significant solid, chunk.  It's nicely grilled and slightly seasoned.  This one was a little on the dry side, though we did opt out of the mayo.  The awkward chunks of iceberg lettuce won't stay on and don't really add anything when they do.

​Uncle Franky's doesn't make its own veggie burgers, but they do cook them pretty well.  The grill leaves a slight but pleasing crunch on the outside of the patty.  There's also a mild spiced flavor in this meatless burger.

We'll be featuring more local burgers soon, but you still have time to leave requests or suggestions for any non-beef burgers around the area that you'd like us to include.  Just leave them in the comments below.


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