I’m writing this post a couple of months after our whirlwind US and Canada trip. To be honest I thought it would be hard to recall all the details from every place we visited, but looking through the photos I’m still hit by cravings from many of the amazing restaurants we visited. One of the places that I’m still longing for a repeat visit is Next Level Burger!
Next Level had some of the most convincing take away burgers we’ve ever tried. Upon entering the staff makes sure you know what you are getting in to; “you know this is a vegan burger joint right?” It makes me wonder how many people turn around and walk out when they find that out. I don’t think they should bother mentioning it; any non-vegan who tries this burger would probably be floored after finding out there’s no actual meat in them.
After accepting the disclaimer, we went ahead and ordered. We kept our order relatively modest, with a couple of burgers and tots (OMG Tater Tots!) to share. Like many of our America days; this day was an eat-a-thon; so we tried to be as sensible as we could when you’re eating at four to five places per day.
The first thing that blew my head right off was the fact that the tots are baked and not fried; and while I’m dubious about any actual health benefit behind this; even if they are 0.01% healthier due to this choice of cooking method, that’s a win because the taste, texture and consistency does not suffer one bit.
The first burger to arrive was the classic; which came with a very decent faux meat patty and a slice of vegan swiss cheese. This burger really looked the part as you can see. I’m always impressed when a burger is as well presented as this. Too often junk food fans are left disappointed by advertising images of tall decadent burgers only to be left disappointed by flat soggy versions that aren’t a fraction as desirable as the professionally photographed one. At Next Level burger they make sure there is no false advertising as the burgers come out looking picture perfect.
For any carnivores that happen to stumble in and miss the no-meat warning, they won’t be missing anything when they look at this. Realistic cheese, realistic patty. And fortunately, the taste and texture matches and should fill any meat-sized void you happen to have.
The second burger was a slightly different variation, with the patty accompanied by Daiya cheddar shreds and tempeh bacon. I’m never really convinced by tempeh bacon if I’m being perfectly honest, and I kind of think tempeh makes a fine burger patty on its own, so I really wish more places would just do a tempeh burger and drop this whole facade about trying to make it bacon-like, which it is not. That said, it’s not terrible, but on repeat visits I might branch elsewhere onto the menu.
We visited the Hawthorne (aka Vegan Paradise) branch, but Next Level Burger has become an Oregon staple with three locations and they’ve also branched out to Cali, NY and Seattle as well.
Next Level Burger
4121 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214, USA