The new burger lands at Shake Shack tomorrow. Here's why even meat lovers will want a taste. 
Credit: Courtesy of Shake Shack

Deeply devoted fans of Shake Shack like myself (have you tried the chili fries? You have to, right now if possible) understand that the chain has mastered fast food burger magic. The combination of the pillowy bun atop the crispy, but still juicy beef patty, capped by the crunch of pickles and onions, makes it one of the best burgers out there at the moment. Biting into a burger that combines all those mouthwatering elements is an experience vegetarians deserve, and Shake Shack plans to deliver.

On Thursday, April 19, Shake Shack will release its take on the veggie burger. Of course, vegetarians do have the option of the ‘Shroom Burger (a deep fried mushroom filled with cheese) already, but until now, Shake Shack has never released a burger patty made from vegetables. This one combines beets, brown rice, and black beans—making it high in both protein and fiber. Food & Wine got a first taste, and let me tell you now: This is probably one of the best veggie burgers I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

First of all, the patty is soft with a slightly crispy top—it’s not at all dry or crumbly, as some veggie burgers tend to be; in fact, it barely avoids becoming mushy. It gets an extra little kick of flavor from the slice of melted provolone on top, and a vegan mustard mayo (made from chickpeas). The beet flavor does come through after the first couple bites—and beets can be polarizing—but in this case, the hint of sugar and deep purple color is welcome.

The texture comes probably as close as one can get to a regular beef patty, so if you’re a vegetarian who misses meat, or a meat eater looking for healthier dinner options, you won’t be disappointed.

One possible downside (depending on who you ask) of the regular Shake Shack beef burger is that it tends to be heavy and super filling. On the other hand, the veggie burger is refreshingly light. I could have easily eaten two if they would have given me a second one.

And though it might be easy to dismiss the pickles, raw onion, tomato and lettuce as boring toppings, these vegetables are a necessary element of the Shake Shack experience, especially in the case of the veggie burger. The tang of the onions and pickles brings all of the flavors of the burger together, while the softness of the patty is nicely countered by the crunch.

As a pretty much lifelong carnivore, I can say for certain that I would gladly (if only occasionally) swap out this veggie burger for the beef version. I think other carnivores will feel the same. And vegetarians—who seem to always be on a quest for the perfect veggie burger—will find an indulgent treat here that almost perfectly mimics the fast food experience.