With summer barbecue season officially here, many Chicago vegetarians will soon be leaving their carnivore pals' backyard soirees with a bit of a rumble in their stomach thanks to their main course-less meals.
Thankfully, the city has no shortage of vegetarian-friendly restaurants serving up enticing, meat-free burgers that might even make your flesh-eating friends a bit jealous.
On the cusp of Independence Day, we've rounded up our favorite black bean, mushroom and chickpea-based, meat-free favorites from around the city. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments.
<em>1484 North Milwaukee Avenue, 218 South Clark Street, 1023 West Belmont Avenue</em><br><br>This relatively-new-to-Chicago mini-chain featured a number of meat- and dairy-free takes on comforting classics (including an Oklahoma "Bacon" Cheseburger), but our favorite is the Scorpion Burger: A Blackened Tempeh patty topped with chipotle sauce, lettuce, carrots, onions and a healthy portion of avocado.<br><br><em>Photo: Facebook</em>
MANA Food Bar
<em>1742 West Division Street</em><br><br>Had no problem cutting meat out of your diet but still missing sliders? MANA has you covered with their veggie mini-burgers. From 4-6 p.m. daily, get two of their sliders plus a beer for just $7.50.<br><br><em>Photo: Facebook</em>
<em>2900 West Belmont Avenue </em><br><br>It will come as news to precisely no one that this Avondale hot spot is known for their tantalizing burgers (as well as their usually-exceedingly-long lines). But what you may not know is that all their beefy treasures, like the Lair of the Minotaur (pictured), are available with a veggie patty. Skip the bacon on top of many of them and you're set to go!<br><br><em>Photo: seamusiv (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/withoutsound/5524802178/sizes/l/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr</a>)</em>
<em>3411 North Halsted Street</em><br><br>Chicago's premier destination for vegetarian comfort food, naturally, serves up several burger options, including a "Titantic BLT Burger," a BBQ "bacon" variety and a black bean-based "Black Mamba." They're all great, especially with a side of the diner's macaroni and "cheese" and washed down by the diner's signature, surprisingly convincing dairy-free milkshakes.<br><br><em>Photo: Facebook</em>
<em>2535 North Milwaukee Avenue</em><br><br>First-timers ordering off the menu at this Logan Square eatery might just go for the regular ole veggie burger here, which is delicious in its own right, especially when accompanied by tater tots as a side. But for an extra dollar, the burger comes with avocado and a roasted red pepper aioli. It will be the best dollar you've ever spent.<br><br><em>Photo: SweetOnVeg (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetonveg/5841255378/sizes/l/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr</a>)</em>
<em>1024 North Western Avenue </em><br><br>This heavy metal-themed bar, located kitty corner from the Empty Bottle in the Ukrainian Village, has a couple of fantastic vegetarian-friendly options among its sprawling menu, including our favorite, the Identity Theft burger, which is topped with greens, cucumber, fried onions and shallot dressing.<br><br><em>Photo: Facebook</em>
DMK Burger Bar
<em>2954 North Sheffield Avenue</em><br><br>DMK, like Kuma's, is known as one of the city's best purveyors of the meaty good stuff, and, also like Kuma's, they can put a meat-free twist on any of their 14 signature burgers.<br><br><em>Photo: Facebook</em>
Cleo's Bar & Grill
<em>1935 West Chicago Avenue </em><br><br>We've heard rumors about what this neighborhood bar's homemade veggie burger can do to an unassuming meat-free foodie. We're anxious to go see for ourselves.<br><br><em>Photo: MattHurst (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/skewgee/6935968656/sizes/l/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr</a>)</em>
How to Make Chickpea Burgers
Watch Eric make this veggie burger recipe, then go to our site and get the vegetable burger recipe on our site, GardenFork.TV.