Let me qualify this review with the obvious point; I’m not a vegetarian. However, I have several friends and foodie acquaintances who are vegetarian, pescatarian, or vegan. Many of whom do not like the thought of their dietary options beginning and ending with a three-veggie blue plate or a garden salad when they dine in the city.
So, like a trooper foodie I am, I trekked around the city looking for a different twist to veggie burger options so that I would be more knowledgeable about options for friends visiting Jackson who are looking for options. Now, we have some excellent meat alternative burgers at various restaurants. But, instead of the usual meat-like alternative, I wanted to test out more creative options altogether. So, the black bean “burger” at Babalu caught my eye. Its patty is a house-made black bean cake lightly fried to help it hold shape and give it a combination of crunch to puree consistencies. The burger is dressed with fire-roasted salsa and topped with arugula, pickled red onion, and a slice of avocado, all between a sweet brioche bun. Let me start with the most powerful flavor points with this burger: the bun, and the bun. The bun is topped with some secret sweet concoction of honey drizzle – and it’s GOOD. Secondly, the bean cake. On flavor, the black bean mashup is good. However, I was not prepared for the texture of the interior once I cut the burger. The crispy exterior of the cake had me expecting something similar to a faux crab cake. It was not, at all. For those of you big on textures, this may not be the one for you. On creativity, it gets the gold. And much like the Baba Burger, it is big, and it is quite filling. The arugula gave the overall flavor profile the right punch, with the avocado and salsa pulling the subtleties back in for more.
Now, when my friends ask for a “totally non-burger-like” veggie burger that’s way more than veggies between buns, I’m taking them to Babalu for a run on the Black Bean Burger.