Don’t ask me if hamburgers are Hamburger’s invention or cheap American fast food. . . Well if you wanna know my opinion – then HH for sure has reinvented their idea of “hamburgers” and turned it to a hip and trendy craft. Five years ago you might have found a white bun with an organic ground beef patty at your favorite soccer bar. . . today’s concoctions are mad up of seitan-, chickpea-, portobello-, quinoa-, bean-patties, surrounded by spelt, gluten-free, sourdough or brioche buns. Plus a mandatory side of sweet potato fries with some competing mayos and cole slaws. Vegetarian and vegan burgers in Hamburg, are a well executed trend.
Writing this burger guide has been on my mind for more than a year now. These up and coming burger joints are convenient spots to go out with friends – not too fast-foody or fancy. Besides, eating burgers, you’ll really get to know those friends: bare hands (maybe take off the rings) or fork and knife? Wiping their mouth after every bite, or feeling comfortable with freckles of mayonnaise? That said, I have slowly come to accept that burgers aren’t what they used to be – meaning that the spacey pilings might have to be devoured with silverware in the one or other case (Grilly Idol’s Teriyaki for example). But I prefer the traditional way and have learned some skills for handling them:
Hold the burger horizontal (don’t turn downwards), so the filling doesn’t fall and drip out. To have even more control lift your elbows upwards. Then, don’t bite too vigourosly, otherwise the back side will burst out. Bite carefully and for extra support have your little fingers overlap in the back of the burger so that you keep the concoction together till the end. Got it? Then you’re ready to decide where to go!
Now I’m not a strict anything, let’s call me flexi-vegan (or vegan++ for the IT peeps) . . . But my burgers haven’t consisted of meat for ages, so this is my medley of Hamburg’s vegetarian and vegan burger options. As a guideline for you to judge my judgements for your own judgement:
I like my burgers fresh and flavorful: not too dry, not too thick of a bun, slathered in sauces with creative additions that provide contrast. Burgers shouldn’t be a sandwich in a bun, but a luscious “hand-food” assembly.
– colors refer to the map –
MY FAVS: Happen Pappen, Most Wanted Burger, Otto’s Burger (vegetarian), Rice Ninja
ALL VEGAN: Happen Pappen, Froindlichst, Vincent Vegan (foodtruck)
MOST CREATIVE COMBOS: Most Wanted Burger, Grilly Idol
ONE OF A KIND: Happen Pappen
MOST CHARRED AND JUICY: Grilly Idol
BIG GROUPS: Froindlichst, Grilly Idol
BEST SIDE: roasted potatoes at Happen Pappen, asian cole slaw at Grilly Idol
Happen Pappen – my post here
all vegan (gf option)
Extremely popular, but still as down-to-earth as can be. This café/bistro serves my favorite vegan burgers in town; Monday through Sunday from 6pm. Either as the piled concoction or served in a bowl omitting the bun for some extra salad and roasted oven potatoes – awesome! These burgers are creative and taste earthy but fresh, whilst still slathered in those best ever homemade mayos. Meaning I could eat out here every evening, without getting sick of the often-case “too rich, too fatty” restaurant food. Happen Pappen’s vegan burgers taste like completely new inventions and I’ve gotten anti-vegan guys to love them as well, so don’t hesitate! If there’s any space left (usually not for me), the cakes are just as juicy and delicious (my favourites being apple and chocolate). Nothing is boring at HP and one visit will lure you back to this spot for any daytime meal.
Patty: seitan, rice-chickpea-coconut, red lentil
Bun: yummy spelt, but a tick too thick, also gf available (or take the bowl for my favorite ratio)
Combos: INNOVATIVE, like the Asian (coconut-chickpea, wasabi mayo, radish, carrot), a Mexican, “Indiana Jones” (BBQ, roasted onions . . . ), one with cranberries, pickles, roasted onions and more
Ratio: too much bun in the burger for me, but the burger bowls are perfected and quite large
Sides: roasted oven potatoes with amazing homemade harissa mayo, fresh salad, nachos
Drinks: teas, smoothies, homemade lemonades, soft drinks, no alcoholics
If it were mine: thinner buns // if my mom would co-own it: craft beer
8,50€ or 10€ for b-bowls (they are large), order and pay (afterwards) at the counter
burgers served Mo-Sa: from 18:00
Feldstraße 36 (St. Pauli/Karoviertel)
all vegan (gf option)
A spacy vegan joint with a saloon-like, beach shack interior, a loungy back room and lots of open-air seating outdoors. The burgers and pizzas are good, the fries and cakes amazing, and I’ve still got to try out the burritos, smoothies and Sunday brunches. The service was very friendly and open to special wishes.
Patty: lentil, black bean, differently spiced seitan patties – had a bit of that succulent meat flavor
Bun: homemade spelt, gf also available
Combos: an Italian (sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts), a Mexican (black bean, tortilla chips, guace), a BBQ, a chilly cheeze
Ratio: the bun was tasty on it’s own, but in the combo it was a bit too dense and dry
Sides: very good potato crisp-like fries, nicely salted sweet potato fries, fresh abundant salad –– there’s no choice to omit your choice of side, they come along with the dish
Drinks: great craft beers, cocktails, warm drinks, homemade ice teas, smoothies
If it where mine: work on them mayos so you can add more and have perfect ratio, and let the sides be optional
11,90 € for burger with a side (they come together), order and pay (afterwards) at the counter
Mo-Sa: 12:00-22:00, Su: 10-22:00, reservation here (though there’s plenty of seating space, especially outside)
Barmbeker Straße 169 (Winterhude)
Vincent Vegan (foodtruck) locations, see more below
all vegan (gf option)
I have heard lots of vegans say that this is their favorite burger. The chatty and accommodating service makes for a fun atmosphere. The “single” burger was missing some juiceiness, which makes a burger a burger (instead of a sandwich). Maybe the ratio with their double patty burgers would be perfect, plus some extra turmeric-garlic mayo. However they prep them combinations to be a very edible street food; these burgers can’t be demolished by silverware.
Patty: seitan-tofu mix
Bun: fluffy and soft, but too large
Combos: with guacamole and jalapeõs (great!) and optional cheeze or veg-bacon
Ratio: a lot of bun, too little mayo, a tasty combo, but not very juicy burger-ish
Sides: sweet potato or normal fries with three different mayos (I vote for the garlicky turmeric one)
Drinks: soft drinks (lemonades, water . . . ) but this is a food truck, you’ll have lots of neighbours to please your bud
If it where mine: make the bun a bit thinner and slather it in the great mayo.
Rice Ninja Foodtruck (on outdoor markets)
one veggie, possible to be made vegan (all GF)
I actually don’t like to call things burgers that aren’t really burgers . . . but after advertising Happen Pappen’s burger bowls so strongly, I guess Rice Ninja’s burgers deserve a spot here too. These “burgers” are an authentic, quick and cheap meal for in between. Instead of a bun you’ll have some fried rice, filled with simple, unique flavour and freshness, bringing a lightness to common heavy burgers. Most importantly they taste great.
“Patty”: teriyaki oyster mushrooms – they’re great
“Bun”: fried rice!
Combo: clearly different, staying simple but great, with coleslaw, salad, thai basil, a slightly spicy sauce and sesame
Ratio: perfect and light
Sides: asian cole slaw and cool manioc fries
Drinks: water and Fritz Kola
Meat Friends: pulled pork or tuna “burgers”
If it were mine: well it’s not 100% my definition of a burger . . . but I think nobody really cares unless they try to have scientific discussions about this food science
three vegan, four veggie
This is a mix of cute and old-classic, nothing like: “Burgers are mainstream, vegan is too, let’s open a restaurant!” The cottage styled bistro is family run with really good homemade, not trendy, vegetarian and vegan food. Their “Börgers” are super, so I haven’t come around to try any other dishes. The latter are long-established German standards, which are hard to explain in English: call it a simple veggie patty/dumpling with different sauces, quiches, salads or falafel . . . Börgers we all know though, and this is a great spot to have a classic one, keeping it simple with conservative styled German twists (see combos).
Patty: homemade vegetable patty, very good
Bun: soft, springy white bun, like a traditional “burger bun” should be, but it tastes homemade and fresh – all burgers can be made bunless too
Combos: classic (ketchup, mustard, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes) with “classy German twists” like cranberries and camembert, mushrooms and creme fraiche, but also a great avocado, modest BBQ or chili-cheese Börger; on demand switch arugula for iceberg lettuce
Ratio: perfect but still edible by hand
Sides: always a little coleslaw, sesame sweet potato fries, poppy-oregano potato fries, side salad, tomato carpaccio
Drinks: alcohol free beer, homemade lemonades and ice teas, soft drinks, hot drinks
If it were mine: offer free tap water
Most Wanted Burger
one to two vegan, one to two veggie (varies seasonally), (gf option)
#MWB was a great surprise, because we had judged the joint by its cover – “the imbiss type”. Their burgers are outstanding, and you can watch them prepare’m freshly on the spot in their lively and small kitchen-bar. This concept was opened by a chef and barkeeper who wanted to turn fast food into first-class, high-piled creations. Each combo I have tried) definitely is perfected and unique. Plus they’ve got truffle fries.
Patty: (changes every 3 months), example: spinach-herbs (veggie), pumpkin, tofu-peanut-banana (vegan)
Bun: great brioche or sesame bun (veggie), super crunchy toasted Krossi (vegan)
Combos: creative without faking any cheese or meats, special ingredients such as banana chips, pomegranate, pumpkin, dried berry, mango salsa, sprouts, radish . . .
Sides: lots of different fries (like sweet potato or truffle), great homemade mayos (1 vegan), potato chips, tempura veggies, potato salad, tiny corn on the cobs (latter two are only veggie)
Drinks: soft drinks, cocktails, wine, bad selection of beers, hot drinks
Meat Friends: get a pasture-raised patty, very good
If it were mine: all great, continue the good work! // If my mom would co-own it: craft beer
five vegan, ten to be made as a veggie, (gf option, but only for the meat variants)
A chill’n, maybe a bit gentrified, burger restaurant in the midst of St. Pauli. Their generous sized burgers are 100% worth it: they’re juicy, nicely charred (yes the vegan black bean patty tastes this way too) and perfected by some housemates who out of nowhere, opened this successful burger bar. We got to chat with one of them. He was really into his thing and whilst mixing and tasting the cocktails, he refilled my tap water every time it was empty – not something you’ll see very often.
Patty: charred black bean or crispy marinated soy
Bun: perfect brioche, white sesame, or a steamed asian bao bun
Combos: a large selection, many with an asian twist (like teriyaki, peanuts, red beet sprouts, wasabi-mayo in a steamed bao bun)
Ratio: altogether great, though some wouldn’t suffer from less mayo
Sides: four different slaws (asian slaw is best), side salad, sweet pot. and normal fries, homemade sauces and mayos (11 vegan)
Drinks: great selection of craft beers, soft drinks, long drinks (there’s quite a bar), shots, wine, champagne, coffee (but no tea! ;))
Meat Friends: organic patties are charred to perfection and taste as juicy as one could expect for a burger
If it were mine: a bit smaller portions, and a tad less mayo on some // My dad wants to add: “give the local Paulianers a discount”
Otto’s Burger – my post here
one vegan, two veggie
This is a Hamburg favorite, and there is no wondering why. It feels local and individual but still American styled (at least the Grindel one). Most importantly, the burgers are verily perfected. I guess that was their goal, two cousins and a friend wanted to reinvent this American fast food and bring it back to the city where it originated. The vegetarian burgers are tender and juicy. This spot has become a delicious standard for groups with diverse tastes.
Patty: quinoa-bean-carrot (vegan) – great!, portobello mushroom (veggie)
Bun: great brioche bun, but the egg-less vegan variant is too dry
Combos: simple but awesome (succulent veggie patty, tomato relish and guacamole or squeaky portobello mushroom, coleslaw and pickled onions)
Ratio: the veggie: super perfect!, the vegan: the dry bun brings it a bit out of balance, more mayo necessary
Sides: sweet potato fries, normal fries, coleslaw, onion rings, awesome mayos (only one vegan, the jerk-mayo, but it’s awesome)
Drinks: great selection of craft beers, homemade smoothies, shakes and lemonades, soft drinks, wine, long drinks, specialty coffee at the entrance from Playground Coffee (at Grindel)
Meat Friends: get a pasture-raised patty, very satisfying
If it were mine: get that vegan bun as good as the others
8€ menu, table service
Ottensen: Mo-Su: 11:30-21:45, Grindel & Schanze: Mo-Th: 11:30-22:30, Fr-Sa: 11:30-23:00, Su: 11:30-22:00, no reservations and quite busy
Grindelhof 33 (Grindel), Schanzenstraße 58 (Sternschanze), Bahrenfelder Straße 175 (Ottensen)
one vegan, one veggie
“Edel” means fancy, “satt” means if you are (hunger wise) satisfied or full. Now what do you expect? Edelsatt appears like a kind of fancy bistro (on Mühlenkamp especially). The owners used to be hunters, so they’re passionate about local game. The animal in the patties will literally have run around forests eating what they wanted for their whole life – as organic as it can get. The meat patties are made of three different types of wild deer and wild boar – partially sourced from two specific huntsmen. But I care about the vegetarian and vegan type, even if the quinoa and tomatoes were fenced in dirt fields their whole life. The vegan one is luscious, and very filling although I was missing something fresh and contrasting. The vegetarian type has an oriental flair, with eggplant instead of a patty and some zangy orange-chili mayo.
Patty: large fried quinoa patty, crispy outside, hot and soft and savoury taste inside (vegan), veggie has no real patty, just eggplant
Bun: all organic, not special but very good
Combos: oriental, healthy and different than the others (quinoa patty, hummus, tomato-cashew cream or eggplant, hummus, mozzarella, orange-chile mayo)
Ratio: a bit too much patty (vegan), veggie one great
Sides: superb sweet potato fries with fennel salt, normal fries, side salad, homemade mayos (one vegan, the tomato-cashew – different and very tasty!)
Drinks: soft drinks, beer, gin, cocktails, wine, hot drinks
Meat Friends: tastes very special in a good way, it’s wild meat, supposedly that’s healthiest, tastiest and friendliest – seems like a win, win situation if you’re gonna eat meat
If it were mine: make the vegan patty smaller, turn on different music
7,50€-8,00€, very friendly table service
Tu-Sa: 12:00-22:30 Su: 14:00-21:00 (Mühlenkamp) reservation here, Mo: 12-21:00, Tu-Sa: 12-22:30 (Karoviertel)
Mühlenkamp 8 (Winterhude), Karolinenstraße 32 (Karoviertel)
four vegan, seven veggie
Former Hans in Glück got recreated to Peter Pane, at least in north Germany. They are a very successful franchise, and an easy choice for large groups to meet up for lunch. This time of day is busy but peaceful amongst birch trees – or is it maybe more fairy tail-ish wooden decor? In the evening the bar-feeling is present, intimate discussions are hard, because loud music is part of the concept. Their burgers are hit and miss, some are great, some are too dry, hot or plain – but they have a large selection, so hope for a hit!
Patty: wheat or sweet potato-tahini (vegan) – great! , sweet potato, tomato-olive, walnut-celery, (veggie)
Bun: sourdough, multi-grain or brioche – all good; also bun-less on a few selected kinds
Combos: something for everyone – from potato chips and BBQ sauce, to spicy pepper sauce with grilled veggies, or mushroom, herbs and chive-mayo . . .
Ratio: depends on which one you get . . . Weltreise was too plain, but Panflöte surprised me positively
Sides: fries, side salad, tasty mayos (five vegan)
Drinks: beer, homemade ice teas and lemonades, soft drinks, cocktails, wine, hot drinks
Meat Friends: only get locally sourced patties
If it were mine: offer sweet potato fries as small side portion (not just the pound portion), and make all burgers as good as the best one
7,90-8,90€, menu, table service
Mo-Su: 11:00-open end (reservations on the website, there are 5 locations)
Schäferkampsallee 1 (Schlump, Eimsbüttel), Lange Reihe 107 (St. Georg), Goldbekplatz 1 (Winterhude), Hoheluftchausee 99 (Hoheluft), Witts Allee 1A (Blankenese)
Now I haven’t tasted every vegan burger in Hamburg, but I’ve gone to every spot that seems worthwhile for me. Below are some further burger spots that I either haven’t tested yet or that I don’t approve of (see the gray ones on the map, if you open the extra tab)
- The Burger Lab (one vegan, one veggie) – 7,90€ – Eimsbüttel/Schanze, the meaty burgers are nice, but I’m not a fan of the veggie and vegan ones
- BurgerKultour (all seven burgers possible vegan or veggie, also gf) 7,50€-11€ menu – Eimsbüttel/Schanze, modern urban feeling
- Anchors & Hearts (three vegan) 10,50€-12,50€ menu – St. Pauli, restaurant feeling, opens at 18:00
- Hensel (one vegan, one veggie) 5,30-6,50€ menu – Winterhude, seems kind of fast foody
- The Bird (two vegetarian) 10€ – St. Pauli, definitely for greasy meat burger lovers, and the black bean burger isn’t bad, but it’s a really “burger” place with loud music
- Brooklyn Burger Bar (most normal burgers optional as a veggie) 9-14,50€ menu – downtown
- Atelier F (one vegetarian) 7,80€ menu – downtown, main emphasis on meats (they’re concept ist French-American kitchen)
- Bürgerlich (one veggie), 6€ menu – downtown, seems very casual and simple
- Dulf’s Burger (no vegan) 7,40€ – emphasis definitely on huge piled (meat) burgers