All images: Daisy Dickinson
Charlotte Griffiths selects the best veg in a bun, and then some, for miles around
1. Steak & Honour
We’re cheating ever so slightly here, but these homegrown heroes are hugely deserving of a double nod: if you head to Steak & Honour’s permanent home in the heart of the city, you can tuck into two equally splendid meatless burgers that have been crafted with just as much care and attention as their beef-based siblings. The ’Shroom – also available from S&H’s Citroën vans – sees juicy flat mushrooms combined with American cheese, lettuce, onions, gherkins, French’s mustard, Heinz ketchup and S&H’s signature toasted brioche bun. It’s definitely messy, but gloriously so: our advice is to wrap yourself in napkins and fearlessly dive in.
The other veg-friendly offering is their take on a bean-based patty, which goes by the name Check The Pulse – this burger features beetroot pickle and seaweed mayo for bonus umami that’ll have even the most ardent anti-veg crusader licking their fingers. No visit to S&H is complete without a pot of their outrageously crispy salted fries, and maybe a side of mac ’n’ cheese if you’ve got the room – but whether you’re a veggie burger fan or just fancy a meat-free feast, we wholeheartedly recommend taking your feet to Wheeler Street and through Steak & Honour’s neon-lit door.
2. Stem & Glory
Tucked away upstairs on Mitcham’s Corner is an eatery with ethics: Stem & Glory is camyoga’s addition to the Cambridge dining scene, providing delicious vegan dishes where you genuinely don’t miss the animal by-products – and their burger offering is definitely worth a detour, whether you’re carnivorous or otherwise inclined. It’s a clever combination of smoky barbecue sauce with on-trend jackfruit, which has been making waves in culinary circles for a few years now as the Holy Grail of vegan eating due to its meaty texture and ability to absorb flavour. Slow-cooking young jackfruit creates an uncannily realistic pulled-pork-style dish, which is perfectly paired here with a well-seeded bun, a fresh citrus avocado slaw, Cajun-spiced new potatoes and sweet, sun-dried tomato ketchup. Throw in a craft beer from Stem & Glory’s extensive list, and you’ve got yourself a dinner fit for a king – whether vegan or not.
3. Butch Annie’s
Follow the neon burger downstairs off Market Street and you’ll find yourself in one of central Cambridge’s great secret eating spots: Butch Annie’s. This colourful bar was designed around two culinary pillars – burgers and beer – and every one of the eight burger iterations that they offer can be transformed into a meat-free variety. Just say the word and a ‘secret-recipe’ patty will be swapped in, wrapped in bright turquoise paper and presented to your table – matched up with trendy (and delicious) skin-on fries dusted with za’atar, rosemary salt or simple Maldon.
Far be it from us to reveal all their secrets, but we will say this: the patty’s well designed to match up with a range of flavours so whichever option you choose from their menu, you’re in for a treat. We tried the Classic Butch in its veggie form and were delighted with the neat, delicious, well-balanced burger – plus it’s exciting to see a whole range of options on a menu rather than a lonely solo offering. Grab a few friends and a few more beers, and head downstairs for a session.
This bustling town-centre pub and brewery has a reputation for great atmosphere and even better beers, and their reliably tasty food offering makes the Brewhouse a fantastic spot to meet friends and while away an evening. Their extensive menu caters to all tastes and sizes of appetites, but you’d better come hungry if you’re keen on their veggie burger. This feast combines roasted butternut squash and sweet potato, then slathers on a thick, melty blanket of red Leicester cheese and serves it all up alongside hand-cut chunky chips and garlic mayo for dipping purposes.
If you’ve had a day where you find yourself needing to pull your dinner over your head duvet-style, this is the burger for you: a comforting carb blanket that will soothe away life’s stresses. For truly extraordinary times and a little extra cash, you can make the burger ‘dirty’ with a fried egg and onions or even double up your patty. Wash it all down with one of the brews crafted on site and even the most dedicated meat-eater is sure to go a little green with envy.
5. Honest Burgers
These relative newcomers to Cambridge are no strangers to the art of crafting a burger: our city’s outpost of Honest Burgers is the latest in the family, with at least 20 other branches found within London’s environs, so it’s fair to say they’ve got experience – and the queue out the door on weekends shows that we’ve taken the newest residents of ‘Meat Street’ to our hearts.
But for all their talk of commitment to top-quality produce and focus on simple meat preparation, how’s their veggie offering? Honestly (sorry)… it’s really rather good: a grown-up evolution of the spiced burger that all vegetarians lived off in the early 2000s. Honest’s Market Vegetable fritter is made from cauliflower, sweetcorn, tomato, coriander and cucumber yoghurt, and comes paired with the finger-licking triple-cooked skin-on rosemary-salted chips which food critic Jay Rayner once described as “the edible equivalent of crystal meth”.
Add in one of their home-made mint lemonades or a Tin Cup Cocktail – or Honest’s first milkshake, created in partnership with neighbour Jack’s Gelato – and you’ve definitely got yourself a burger to remember.