A burger is an all-American meal that's often a staple on the menus of many bar-restaurants or fast casual spots. But chefs these days are going beyond the run-of-the-mill beef burger and putting both creatively indulgent and healthy twists on the classic dish. From ramen burgers to chickpea patties and everything in between, here are a few ideas chefs are employing to reinvent the burger.
Swap Out the Bun
Ever since the ramen burger debuted at a Brooklyn food festival a few years back, it became a craze. People had to have it. Nowadays, it's become more mainstream, and many Asian fusion restaurants offer the burger, which is sandwiched between two "buns" made from ramen noodles. Today, chefs are even taking this trend to a new level by swapping out classic buns for everything from grilled cheese to donuts to spaghetti noodles.
Switch Up the Patty
An easier way to get creative with a burger, and even make it more healthy, is to switch out the beef for something else. Turkey, ahi tuna, and lamb are common choices, or you can go beyond the standard by creating a steak tartare burger like FLIP Burger Boutique in Atlanta or even a falafel patty like Bernie's Burger Bus in Texas. And if you want to switch up the meat, go with elk or bison. Some chefs even do a burger blend with bacon or pork in their patty.
Make It All About Veggies
Veggie-based comfort food is becoming a big trend this year and the burger is a great place to showcase some of that. At Hub 51 in Chicago, they offer a new dish called the Anti Burger, which is made with quinoa, lentil, farro, chickpeas, caramelized onion, white miso, cumin, and shitake mushrooms. Try offering a vegetable-based burger that resembles its meaty counterpart.
Go Topping (or Filling) Crazy
When you're looking to create an out-of-the-ordinary burger, the best way to start is to experiment with different toppings. Start simple by swapping your regular mayonnaise for sriracha or basil aioli, pull in different toppings like super spicy peppers or pickled vegetables, and if you want to go really crazy, pile on some macaroni and cheese or slices of pastrami. You could even stuff a burger with oozing cheese or other meats, or get fancy with shaved truffles or foie gras.
Whether you're cooking up a ramen burger or a nutrient-packed veggie burger, there are many ways to teach this beloved American dish new tricks. If you're looking to bring a little innovation to your menu, take some inspiration from these creative burger varieties and start experimenting.