New Eats: Impossible Burger at Hopdoddy

It was a dismal Saturday afternoon, but sometimes you have to run errands no matter how rainy and chilly it is. That’s where I found myself last weekend, and hungry, too, as it was approaching 2 p.m. and I’d skipped breakfast. A friend called to see if I wanted lunch when I was at Poplar and Perkins. I looked around, saw a crowded parking lot at Hopdoddy, and it looked inviting.

I stood in line for a burger at a Hopdoddy in Austin some years ago and it was good, but come on. If I’m going to stand in line for food in Austin, it’s not going to be for a burger when we have so many good ones here. And I’ve eaten at the Overton Square Hopdoddy, but hadn’t been to the East Memphis one and more important, I hadn’t tried the Impossible Burger.

I’m not a vegetarian; I’ve dabbled in it, but it’s not sustainable for me because I review restaurants. I know I couldn’t be vegan, so I’ve never tried. But I’m all for making healthier choices in my diet and I’m not a black-bean-burger kind of eater. It’s a texture thing for me, and the Impossible Burger got it right.

That wasn’t unanimous; it was definitely split between a yea from me and a nay from my friend, so you’ll have to decide for yourself. My thoughts are that it’s the best burger substitute I’ve tasted, though I’ve yet to try the Beyond Meat patties. (Those are available to the home cook at Whole Foods; the Impossible Burger is only served in restaurants for now.)

Do you remember the first time you tasted a near beer? Mine was O’Doul’s and I thought it tasted just like beer and what a great idea! I could go out, drink a beer or two then switch to O’Doul’s. But after a real beer, it tasted weak and watery. I kept that in mind when my burger came and tasted it before I shared.

And speaking of beer, the Impossible Burger has something in common with the beverage, since heme, a protein in soy plant roots, is fermented in a similar manner as beer. It’s an iron molecule and is what gives the burger its meatiness.

The difference in appearance was minimal. My patty was thinner, but it had a pink center and looked like meat. Our other burger, the one made of beef, was definitely more visually appealing, but it was also topped with mushrooms, goat cheese and pesto. Mine didn’t smell like a burger to me (some think it does), but the truth was in the first bite.

It tasted like meat. Not like a veggie burger, not like a black bean burger. Meat. I ordered it straight from the menu, with cheese and dressed simply with tomato, onion and lettuce, and asked for the sauce on the side. Second bite, just as good, then I added the Sassy Sauce, a blend of mayo, honey mustard and horseradish. Still good.

I took a bite of the meat burger and of course I could tell the difference, yet still I liked the Impossible Burger. My friend did not, and said it left an unpleasant aftertaste, too. Not to me. I’m all in. My reluctance to order it again would only be the price. It was $12.75 and the bigger Magic Shroom burger was $8.95. You can replace the Impossible Burger for any patty on the menu for an upcharge of $4.25.

According to the Impossible Burger website, you can also find the patties at Farm Burger in Crosstown, Hard Rock Café on Beale, and both locations of Local. If you try it, let me know what you think.