As a child, my best friend’s family was vegetarian, and his mom, Mrs. Hansen, waged an ongoing battle to convert me, to keep her son from falling prey to the evils of what she called the “red meat cells.” Unfortunately for her, Tofurkey and TVP could not compete with the double cheeseburger that seduced us at the Conee Corral Drive-In or, as we affectionately called it, Bill’s Grill (in honor of the owner, who flipped a mean burger when he wasn’t busy teaching high school chemistry). She might have succeeded had the Seward neighborhood’s mostly vegetarian Birchwood Cafe opened in 1975 instead of 1995. That is where Phil Werst and Jeff Robinson have created a masterful vegetarian burger aptly dubbed —in a sly nod to the Matt’s Bar original that has tempted many a carnivore to burn their tongue—the Vegy Lucy. As the name implies, their homage is a meatless patty made from black beans and artichokes, enveloping a melted cheese center. Most often, it is served on a homemade potato bun with corn chips or salad (the cheese and accompaniments change weekly). Now, if only they could get me to stop craving bacon.
3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., 612-722-4474