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While doing some Christmas shopping in North County this weekend, I took the opportunity to check out Bressi Ranch Village Center’s Elevation Burger. The beef there is 100% USDA-certified organic, grass-fed and free-range. Additionally, it’s ground and formed into patties on site. The result—burgers that feel more home-made than prefab and exhibit pure, clean beefy flavors that go nicely with Cheddar cheese that’s aged six months and potent, tasty condiments like balsamic mustard and hot pepper relish.

Even though quality beef is clearly the focus here, there are two completely different non-meat options on the menu. The Veggie #1 and the vegan-friendly Veggie #2. My favorite veggie burger, hands-down, is Burger Lounge’s. I order it every time I dine at any of the local chain’s outlets. My one complaint about their quinoa-based patty, however, is that it tends to crumble apart. That is not the case with Elevation Burger’s Veggie #1. The addition of mozzarella cheese and its trademark elastic qualities help hold together a long list of other ingredients made up primarily of mushrooms, brown rice, rolled oats, bulgur and cheddar cheese. It makes for a strange, somewhat spongy mouthfeel, but it’s very flavorful. If you want the veg and the beef, they do a Half The Guilt Burger where they stack a veggie patty on top of a beef patty, which should actually make for a pretty interesting option both taste- and diet-wise.

Feeling good about ordering a veggie burger, I immediately made up for my healthy choice by ordering a milkshake. Elevation Burger’s are hand-scooped rather than mix-based. Chocolate, vanilla and coffee ice creams serve as the base and one-to-two of numerous mix-ins (Oreos, berries, organic cheesecake powder) can be added free of charge. At the suggestion of a regular, I tried an outlandish mix of coffee ice cream, bananas and mango and, almost inconceivably, it was delicious. The mixture was caramel in color and flavor with a nice fruity freshness and a lingering hint of java.

With nothing on the menu over six bucks, the upgrade in healthful quality is affordable. Better yet, it comes without a downgrade in flavor. Elevation Burger is located at 2641 Gateway Road in Carlsbad.

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