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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Meatless meat options in Downtown Davis

Descriptions and reviews of various local food joints that offer vegan meat options

By SIERRA JIMENEZ — arts@theaggie.org

The rise of meat substitutes in the food industry has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years with options on many menus and shelved in most grocery stores. Stanford University Professor Dr. Patrick O. Brown, who founded the Impossible Food phenomenon, “wanted to make the global food system sustainable by recreating meat, fish and dairy foods, from plants, with a much lower carbon footprint than their animal counterparts,” as stated on the Impossible Foods website

Animal meat production uses about half of the world’s land resources, creates at least 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions and uses 25% of the world’s freshwater supply. By making meat out of plants, the use of the land, water and energy is reduced “so people can keep eating the foods they love, without harming the planet they love,” according to the Impossible website. 

In Davis, there are a variety of meatless meat options for those non-meat eaters out there who don’t want to miss out on the fun. I have tried an assortment of options available in the Downtown Davis area in hopes to help non-meat eaters (and meat eaters!) to pick their new favorite food spot. 

Ike’s Love and Sandwiches

Notorious for its eccentric choice of combinations to stuff in between two pieces of bread, Ike’s seems to never fail in popularity 一 or taste. Limiting myself to the “Sometimes I’m a Vegetarian” on a Dutch Crunch roll, I was hesitant to dip my toes into new territory from the overwhelming menu. How many odd combinations could Ike come up with? Over 500 sandwich combinations apparently! I played it safe with the “Meatless Mike,” which People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) considers the “best vegan meatballs in America.” I must admit, I am not well-acquainted with vegan meatballs (for it is quite the niche food category), but I can attest that these meatless meatballs exceeded my expectations. Compared to other meatless meats I have consumed, these meatballs actually looked like meat. They were fluffy and, well, meaty looking! Thick and texturous, these meatballs not only looked like they had substance but tasted the part as well. Although a little bland, the seasoning of fennel added a peppery spice to the beefy-looking vegan meatballs. Picking out the meat to taste it on its own, the texture ripped apart like real meat would. It had the gristly texture but with the satisfaction that it was not actually animal cartilage. In the completeness of the sandwich, the pepper-jack and banana peppers added to the spicy moistness of vegan meat. I would not only recommend these meatballs for those meat-less meat-eaters out there, but also the whole sandwich (I would hope that you’d go to Ike’s for the sandwich and not solely a meatball!)

Burgers and Brew

Parents weekend? Date night? Burgers and Brew is a hot spot to take the ‘rents or go out for a nice night out in Downtown. One of the more high-end food joints in Davis, their burgers may be a little pricey, but trust me, it’s worth it for their impossible burger. A “1/3lb vegan patty with roasted garlic and olive oil, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and vegan mayo on a sesame bun” — they sold me with the description. The moist, meat-y volume and substance, taste and texture is incredibly similar to a meat patty. It has the grainy, gristley texture red meat has, and has the dark grilled look of a barbequed patty. There are remnants of a smokey flavor and juicy tender deliciousness with every bite. This may be the best impossible burger I have ever tried. I had an extremely hard time finding critiques for this burger because of its remarkable resemblance to a real meat burger, so I would recommend it for those non-meat eaters who still miss the delicacy of meat. 

Burger Patch 

Allegedly, Burger Patch is known for being a vegan spin on classic fast-food joints with its “nostalgic taste,” and that description could not fit better. The Patch Burger looks like a classic McDonalds happy meal with its plastic-ey cheese and iceberg lettuce, but vegan! The signature Patch Sauce seeps into the sweet grilled onions, tomato, lettuce and patty making it messy and fun like good ol’ road trip fast food. The patty itself has a mushroom-ey taste with slight hints of smokiness from a grill and slightly spicy undertones. The patty is obviously fake meat just from looking at it, but it does have a similar texture to real meat. It does not taste like a garden burger, but more so like they wanted to make sure the consumer knew they weren’t eating meat. Not the best beyond burger I have ever had, but I think that is the point 一 fast n’ easy to go food. I also sampled the non-GMO Beyond Chicken tenders which surprised me to the fullest. They were golden brown crispy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. They remind me of the Trader Joe’s Chicken Drumellas, which I’m sure many meat-eating Davis folk have had at least once in their lifetime. The Beyond Chicken tenders left crumbs of breaded chicken stuck to my fingers to lick off like I did as a child. I also dabbled with a bac’n strip. Its appearance follows the suit of the fake burger meat and definitely does not resemble real bacon. It’s floppy and has a rubbery, oily texture, but has a nice hint of barbeque to cover the beyond meat blandness. While the bac’n did not exceed my expectations, the chicken was by far my favorite item on the menu. 

The Hotdogger 

For those vegetarians and vegans out there, maybe you’ve seen them at the Davis Farmers Market Saturday mornings or Wednesday evenings but were dissuaded because of the meat heavy content of a typical hotdog. But, do not fret. The Hotdogger partakes in popular culture and offers a Veggie Tofu Dog for those non meat eaters. Not to mention all of their buns are made vegan! The Veggie Tofu Dog can be as extravagant or minimal as you like with a variety of delicious toppings and condiment options (I personally added the Hawaiian Pineapple mustard and *chefs kiss*). The hot dog itself took me back to baseball games in my childhood, waving down the hot dog vendors in the stands for the simple deliciousness of sports food. The Veggie Tofu Dog has the illusion of a classic Oscar Mayer wiener we all know and love. The plastic-ey look and simple yet extremely satisfying taste paired with the classic combination of ketchup, mustard, relish, onions and tomatoes hide the tofu part of the tofu dog. By itself, it was not that different from a regular hotdog! If I were to not have known it was a tofu dog, I would have a hard time telling the difference from a regular meaty hotdog. The nostalgic tastiness of this Veggie Tofu Dog will send vegetarians and meat lovers alike into shock at the flavor of this hotdog. 

Written by: Sierra Jimenez — arts@theaggie.org

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