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The Beyond Burger lives up to its name

Beat the heat with faux-meat

The Super Rica Burger with a Beyond Burger patty — modern science’s best attempt at a meat-like meatless patty
The Super Rica Burger with a Beyond Burger patty — modern science’s best attempt at a meat-like meatless patty

Santa Monica-based fast casual vegetarian chain Veggie Grill rotates their menu with the seasons, highlighting crisper, more refreshing offerings over the summer months. San Diego claims two of their more-than-thirty nationwide locations.

TJ-style grilled corn is everywhere

About three years ago, Reader eater Patrick Henderson gave an overview of menu items at the UTC location while, earlier this year, Ian Anderson stuck a magnifying glass and some superlatives to their veggie burger at the Carlsbad location. I recently visited the UTC Veggie Grill on a seasonally too-warm afternoon to see what the summer menu was all about.

The Fala-Full Sandwich is better than your average Mediterranean take-out

I start with a cob of Chargrilled Sweet Corn roasted TJ-style (though, of course, a far cry from TJ prices) with a zag of chipotle cream sauce, a smattering of cotija cheese, and fresh chopped cilantro. A squeeze of lime brings the crisp, juicy kernels to a fleeting state of actualization. For a moment I’m standing on the corner of Segunda and Avenida Niños Héroes watching a service let out of a monolithic Tijuana cathedral, wishing I’d grabbed more napkins. Back in the restaurant, nearly half the tables hold a cob of corn or two in various stages of consumption. Little wonder it’s a popular dish.

The Summer Celebration Salad — the tofu did not fall flat

The Fala-Full Sandwich follows with soft, well-seasoned falafel that falls apart in the mouth while mint counterpoints the chickpea and tzatziki and “schug sauce” (a nod to the Yemeni cilantro-and-parsley hot sauce, zhug) plays off the dry pita.

Then — a meal all its own — the Summer Celebration Salad arrives with fresh tabbouleh, roasted corn, a cool avocado-kale hummus, and quartered cherry tomatoes on romaine splashed in a citrus vinaigrette. It’s easy for tofu to fall flat, but charred and slapped with a bright BBQ sauce it held its own in a salad that will no doubt become a favorite as outside temperatures continue to climb.

Place

Veggie Grill

4353 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego

And now it’s time for that miracle of modern science, the vegetable-protein prototype known as the Beyond Burger. The server recommends that I try the fabled patty on the seasonal Super Rica Burger, so I do, and it’s (presumably) even more beyond. Served on a warm pretzel bun, the patty achieves a meat-like flavor, texture, and bleed thanks to seven years of hard science resulting in ingredients such as beet juice, pea protein, bamboo cellulose, and various thickening agents. It’s topped with a vegan chorizo cheese sauce, fire-roasted poblano peppers, cherry peppers, charred onions, lettuce, and tomato.

The only thing unwelcome on this plate is the house-made “corn nuts,” which are just rubbery bits of corn overcooked to the point of, uh, pointlessness. But hey, life is short and summer is long. Veggie Grill merits a visit for anyone with a hankering for cooling hot-weather fare.

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The Super Rica Burger with a Beyond Burger patty — modern science’s best attempt at a meat-like meatless patty
The Super Rica Burger with a Beyond Burger patty — modern science’s best attempt at a meat-like meatless patty

Santa Monica-based fast casual vegetarian chain Veggie Grill rotates their menu with the seasons, highlighting crisper, more refreshing offerings over the summer months. San Diego claims two of their more-than-thirty nationwide locations.

TJ-style grilled corn is everywhere

About three years ago, Reader eater Patrick Henderson gave an overview of menu items at the UTC location while, earlier this year, Ian Anderson stuck a magnifying glass and some superlatives to their veggie burger at the Carlsbad location. I recently visited the UTC Veggie Grill on a seasonally too-warm afternoon to see what the summer menu was all about.

The Fala-Full Sandwich is better than your average Mediterranean take-out

I start with a cob of Chargrilled Sweet Corn roasted TJ-style (though, of course, a far cry from TJ prices) with a zag of chipotle cream sauce, a smattering of cotija cheese, and fresh chopped cilantro. A squeeze of lime brings the crisp, juicy kernels to a fleeting state of actualization. For a moment I’m standing on the corner of Segunda and Avenida Niños Héroes watching a service let out of a monolithic Tijuana cathedral, wishing I’d grabbed more napkins. Back in the restaurant, nearly half the tables hold a cob of corn or two in various stages of consumption. Little wonder it’s a popular dish.

The Summer Celebration Salad — the tofu did not fall flat

The Fala-Full Sandwich follows with soft, well-seasoned falafel that falls apart in the mouth while mint counterpoints the chickpea and tzatziki and “schug sauce” (a nod to the Yemeni cilantro-and-parsley hot sauce, zhug) plays off the dry pita.

Then — a meal all its own — the Summer Celebration Salad arrives with fresh tabbouleh, roasted corn, a cool avocado-kale hummus, and quartered cherry tomatoes on romaine splashed in a citrus vinaigrette. It’s easy for tofu to fall flat, but charred and slapped with a bright BBQ sauce it held its own in a salad that will no doubt become a favorite as outside temperatures continue to climb.

Place

Veggie Grill

4353 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego

And now it’s time for that miracle of modern science, the vegetable-protein prototype known as the Beyond Burger. The server recommends that I try the fabled patty on the seasonal Super Rica Burger, so I do, and it’s (presumably) even more beyond. Served on a warm pretzel bun, the patty achieves a meat-like flavor, texture, and bleed thanks to seven years of hard science resulting in ingredients such as beet juice, pea protein, bamboo cellulose, and various thickening agents. It’s topped with a vegan chorizo cheese sauce, fire-roasted poblano peppers, cherry peppers, charred onions, lettuce, and tomato.

The only thing unwelcome on this plate is the house-made “corn nuts,” which are just rubbery bits of corn overcooked to the point of, uh, pointlessness. But hey, life is short and summer is long. Veggie Grill merits a visit for anyone with a hankering for cooling hot-weather fare.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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