Neighborhood: Wicker Park
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★★★
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★★
Food Quality: ★★★★
Overall Rating: ★★★★
Umami Burger is obviously a staple in Wicker Park for meat eaters. But now with their new “Impossible Burger” (their new vegetarian burger that tastes pretty much like a regular hamburger), it will definitely be frequented more by vegetarians. Prior to the debut of their “Impossible Burger”, I had never been to Umami Burger since I don’t eat meat. But I thought now is the time to try this place and I had only heard good things about it.
The service was great between the hostess and server. Water was plentiful and the server was very helpful with ordering and catering to our dietary needs: pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, regular meat eater, etc.. We came here in a big group (about 10 of us) all excited to try this new vegetarian burger and they were so nice about splitting up the check, which made things a lot easier for us of course.
The decor is modern, sleek, and creative with colorful paintings on the wall. It’s chic but the people who work there don’t act like they’re too cool to do anything. It’s always busy but it’s not hectic and there’s still space to walk around. They also gave us child coloring menus so we had a pleasant time coloring.
Now for the food…I love pickles and they serve you pickles on the table just to pick at. I’ve never been to a restaurant that has done this before and I absolutely loved being able to pick at the pickles before getting the food. They tasted fresh with a sweet aftertaste.
Now let me tell you about the “Impossible Burger” – for $16 (a couple of dollars more than a regular meat burger) you can get it vegan, vegetarian, or the regular one has fish sauce in it. It is made of wheat and potato protein, fat from coconut oil, and hemme (the ingredient that makes meat taste like meat). It is also much more sustainable than cow burgers because methane isn’t released into the air like it is when cows go through industrial factory farming. So you can eat this guilt-free or close to guilt-free as possible!
The “Impossible Burger” consisted of: two burger patties, caramelized onions, American cheese, miso mustard, their house spread, dill pickles, lettuce, and tomato on two tasty buns. It was absolutely scrumptious with the cheese melted and dripping on the sides of the burger. Having not had a hamburger in about 13 years, I kind of forgot what a hamburger tasted like and got used to veggie burgers made from black beans, oats, mushrooms, lentils, etc., but this tasted like how I remember a regular hamburger tasting. It was juicy and had the consistency of a regular burger without the feeling of death. It tasted like a regular burger but didn’t have a gross meat aftertaste that some burgers can have. The bread was toasted nicely and the onions and cheese went really well with the regular hamburger flavor and I love the savory dill pickles with the miso mustard. I can’t wait to try more variations of the “Impossible Burger”. I also appreciate that they have portobello mushroom burgers and ahi tuna burgers as options here.
We also tried the thin fries, which were good with the truffle fondue, sea salt, and chives. I would have liked if they had more truffle fondue on there because there was just a bit on the top layer and there really wasn’t a lot of it. But since we paid extra for it, I would have liked to see more truffle fondue on there especially because truffle is a precious ingredient. They also give you a bunch of dipping sauces which includes a truffle aioli option and a special ketchup (but be careful because it has fish sauce in it), that all paired seamlessly with the fries.
All in all, this was a great experience and I am so happy that there is a burger place that doesn’t think of vegetarians as an afterthought. I grappled with whether I wanted to try a burger that tastes like a real burger because of the ethical implications. But I could eat this guilt-free since there wasn’t juice from a dead cow oozing out of it.