Wagshal’s, the venerable Spring Valley enterprise with multiple locations, certainly knows meat. Its deli counters and two restaurants are known for overstuffed sandwiches (including the legendary smoked brisket); its market features prime, dry-aged kosher meats; and its Pitmasters Back Alley BBQ is a protein palace. Wagshal’s knows how to prepare mock meat, too. The restaurants’ medium-thick Impossible Burger comes with standard but good-quality accompaniments—a seeded roll with melted American cheese, red onion, pickles, lettuce, tomato and “special burger sauce.” In terms of appearance and texture, it’s close to the real thing. But as for aping the rich, beefy flavor of Wagshal’s regular burger—made with prime beef, sirloin, short rib and chuck—well, that’s impossible.
4855 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 202-363-5698, wagshals.com
Many restaurants top their mock meat burgers with cheese, dairy-based sauces or even bacon. At PLNT Burger, the new kiosk co-founded by chef Spike Mendelsohn at the Whole Foods in Silver Spring, the Mushroom “Bacon” BBQ Burger is 100% vegan. A gooey mess to eat, the Beyond Meat patty—pressed thin on a flattop griddle—comes loaded with melted orange vegan cheddar, barbecue sauce, fried onions and shiitake mushrooms sauteed with a smoked spice mixture (creating a bacon flavor). While it may be a tad redundant onion-wise, make sure to order a side of “bloomies,” Spanish onions coated in rice flour and spices, and fried to crunchy nirvana.
833 Wayne Ave. (inside Whole Foods Market), Silver Spring, 240-685-6286, plntburger.com
At BGR The Burger Joint and Quarry House Tavern, you can dress your Beyond Meat burger in a variety of outfits. That’s because the plant-based selection in both places can be ordered with any of the condiments and topping combinations that are available on their long lists of traditional burgers. At BGR, the mock meat blends nicely with “The Wagyu Wellington’s” assertive toppings—caramelized onions, garlic, roasted mushrooms, black truffles, blue cheese and mojo sauce (a blend of horseradish and mayo). Ditto for Quarry House’s “Zeus” (garlic sauce, white cheddar, Greek relish and feta pepperoncini). At either place, there’s an Amazon of options.
BGR The Burger Joint, 4827 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, 240-743-4546; 229 Boardwalk Place (Rio), Gaithersburg, 301-569-7086, bgrtheburgerjoint.com
Quarry House Tavern, 8401 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-844-5380, facebook.com/quarryhouse