This guest blog post is by Kat Mandelstein.
This post is the fifth review in a series on The Austinot. It’s the companion of the Search for the Best Burger Joint in Austin by Austinot owner, Eric Highland, who is not a vegetarian or vegan. That’s where I come in.
If you’re a true carnivore, be sure to check out his series. But if you’ve been looking for the best veggie burger in Austin, you’re in the right place. All the post titles in my series begin with “Harvesting the Best Veggie Burger in Austin.”
In this review series, I’m not only judging the veggie burger, but the restaurant experience itself. With that in mind, know that these are my personal opinions. Feel free to agree or disagree with them. Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations.
Galaxy Cafe Overall Impression
This visit to Galaxy Cafe was not my first, but it was the first time for me to try one of their veggie burgers. Galaxy Cafe falls somewhere between a sit-down restaurant and fast food, because you order your food at the counter, and it’s delivered to your table when ready. The décor is definitely more upscale and modern than the typical fast food restaurant, with a modern-day diner look.
This particular location at the Triangle has a special place in the heart of many in the Austin social media and freelance marketing community because it has hosted Central Austin Jelly in the past. It’s a great place to eat, meet and work all at the same time, so it was a natural fit for our weekly co-working get together.
Galaxy Cafe has built a reputation for simple, fresh food that is locally sourced and prepared. They also have made a real effort to have gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options on their menu. Ingredients are organic and meats are hormone-free. Galaxy Cafe is also environmentally conscious, using biodegradable containers for takeout food. Used vegetable oil gets turned into biodiesel.
We visited on a Saturday at lunch, so it was pretty busy with the a sizable line at the ordering counter. I ordered the Veggie Burger Deluxe with sweet potato fries and fresh lemonade. Galaxy Cafe veggie burgers – both the basic and the deluxe – were more expensive than the other four restaurants I have reviewed. In fact, I checked the menus of several other sit-down restaurants I haven’t reviewed yet, and Galaxy was still the most expensive.
The Veggie Burger Deluxe is a homemade vegan patty on a whole wheat roll, topped with sliced avocado & sautéed mushrooms. Galaxy Cafe’s veggie burger recipe is bean and grain based, and is both vegan and gluten free. It contains beans, oatmeal, mushrooms, onions and carrots with seasoning. In fact, they shared their recipe with Austin Fit Magazine, so you can see the exact ingredients and even make your own version at home.
The burger is served with mixed field greens, tomato, red onion & pesto mayo on the side, and your choice of sides. I could not resist the sweet potato fries, which I had tried before. They are fabulous. Not greasy at all and lightly salted…some of the best sweet potato fries I’ve had.
After making it through the line and ordering, counter staff gave us our number and my lemonade. We went on to the condiment and self-serve drink and utensil bar before settling into a booth by the window. The order numbers have cute definitions of slang terms on them, to entertain you while you wait. Each number is different, so you can learn a new word every visit.
The wait for our food was shorter than traditional restaurants, but not as fast as fast food. When my burger arrived, it was missing the avocado and the mushrooms, so I flagged down one of the staff. They apologized and brought the extras out on a separate plate about 10 minutes later. I ate my fries while I waited. Darn they are good, so crisp and sweet!
Galaxy Cafe has a fairly extensive list of sides, including traditional fries, soups, salad, fruit, whipped sweet potatoes, pasta salad and macaroni and cheese. I have not tried many of these because their sweet potato fries are so tasty that I always want to order them. They were definitely the highlight of my meal, though the burger was also memorable.
Kat’s Veggie Burger Review Criteria
For consistency, I adopted Eric’s burger judging scale for veggie burgers using a 1-10 scale, with 5 being average. (As Eric would say, “Don’t be a hater. If I rate you a 5, that means you were average, and that’s not so bad.”)
So adapting the scale for veggie burgers, a score of 1 translates to “tasted like the dirt it grew in,” while 10 translates to “Mother Nature handcrafted it herself.” Remember, you are free to disagree with me. I am entitled to my opinions and so are you.
When reviewing a veggie burger, these are my categories:
- Veggie Burger Patty
- The Bun
- Messiness (note: Eric rates burgers higher as they get more messy because that’s how he likes them, but I rate burgers lower as they get more messy)
- Presentation (garnish, did they make it look appetizing)
- Overall Veggie Burger Taste
- Fries or Side Item (extra points for a choice in sides)
- Other Factors
Galaxy Cafe Veggie Burger Review
- Veggie Burger Patty = 8 The Veggie Burger Deluxe patty is bean, vegetable and oat based and has great flavor. I could actually see little bits of carrots and mushrooms in the patty. It was soft, but not mushy like other bean-based burgers in town that I’ve chosen not to write a review on. Galaxy Cafe’s is a true vegan patty. It had great flavor, but was slightly crumbly.
- The Bun = 6 Their bun was nothing to write home about. It was soft and fluffy, but a little ordinary and not quite big enough to keep all the toppings from sliding out. This is the one area where the burger fell short, especially for the price. A larger seeded bun would have made this burger stand out more.
- Toppings = 8 The Deluxe comes standard with my two favorite toppings: avocado and mushrooms. It also has lettuce, tomato and red onion rings on the side, as well as pesto mayo (which I did not try since it isn’t vegan). All the toppings were fresh and, once I got my missing avocado and sautéed mushrooms, the combination of toppings was wonderful.
- Messiness = 6 Veggie Burger Deluxe is actually pretty messy to eat. My toppings kept sliding out as I ate, and the patty crumbled a bit too. It seems like the bun is too small for the amount of ingredients inside of it, so this contributes to the messiness.
- Garnish = 7 The garnish is the toppings, simply presented on a white diner plate. The sweet potato fries are what made my plate look so mouth-watering.
- Taste = 7 This is a very good veggie burger. The seasoning in the burger, plus the mushrooms and avocado, make the Veggie Burger Deluxe taste much better than the average veggie burger.
- Fries or Side Item = 8 If I haven’t already said it enough, the sweet potato fries were awesome! They also get extra points for such a wide array of side options. Plus, the side is included in the price and not extra. This may be why they feel justified for charging what they do for the burger.
- Atmosphere = 7 The atmosphere is clean and modern, with zen river stones in the entry way and new modern lighting and seating. Galaxy Cafe does have patio dining at this location, so you can bring your four legged friends. But the patio is basically chairs and tables set up on the sidewalks of the Triangle, next to the restaurant.
- Cleanliness = 7 Stark white tables are kept bussed and clean between customers. Counters and bathrooms are also kept very clean, especially given the volume of customers coming through.
- Other Factors = 7 The Triangle location is conveniently located centrally. Flying Saucer, a massage therapy studio and Embellish are all nearby if you want relaxing things to do before or after your meal. You can grab a beer while watching a game, get a relaxing massage or meetup with your girlfriends for a group pedi party, but make sure you make reservations for the last two options. On Wednesday night, the Triangle also has a Farmer’s Market, so you can grab fresh produce for the rest of your week.
Bottom Line on the Veggie Burger at Galaxy Cafe in Austin: 7.1 out of 10
Overall Score = 7.1. The overall score is the average of the 10 categories.
Galaxy Cafe may not have made the top of my best veggie burger list, but they have a very good burger that I would not hesitate recommending. I would also recommend Galaxy Cafe in general to my gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan friends, since there are multiple options for them.
Galaxy Cafe also does a nice job with their Web site and social media presence. Their company culture and focus on the teamwork and customer service of their employees is admirable. Seems like a company that really cares about both their employees and customers. Between this and their focus on organic food and the environment, this is the kind of local company that I am happy to support.
It’s worth noting that the same parent company owns Zocalo and Top Notch Burgers. I haven’t tried Top Notch, but they do appear to have a veggie burger, so I’ll have to give it a try to see how it compares to the veggie burger at Galaxy Cafe. I have tried Zocalo and really like it. Similar to Galaxy Cafe, it has counter service and they deliver food to your table. They have very fresh Mexican food and a big patio. For those of you who remember West Lynn Cafe, the past upscale sister restaurant that was owned by Mother’s Café & Garden, Zocalo is in that same restaurant space. The architecture still gives this space a lot of its charm. I would give a thumbs up for trying Zocalo if you haven’t.
My quest for the best veggie burger in Austin has not ended. I will be continuing to sample and review over the coming months, so please share your suggestions in the comments.
Harvesting the Best Veggie Burger in Austin Continues
So far, of veggie burgers in Austin reviewed on The Austinot, here is the scorecard:
#1 – score 7.8 – Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse
#2 – score 7.5 – Magnolia Cafe
#3 – score 7.1 – Galaxy Cafe
#4 – score 6.8 – Elevation Burger
#5 – score 6.35 – Billy’s on Burnet
Other places that have been suggested for me to review are: Mr. Natural, Mother’s Cafe & Garden, Woodland, Big Daddy’s, Whole Foods, BJ’s, Crown & Anchor, Bartlett’s, 24 Diner, Arlo’s, Your Mom’s Burger Bar and Topnotch.
Kat Mandelstein is not a native of Austin, but she got here as fast as she could. By day she is the Director of Social Business Strategy & CollaborANT at Ant’s Eye View, and by night she is the President of Social Media Club Austin, sits on the International SocialMediaClub.org Board of Directors and recently became the host of the Social Media Book Club and Webinar.