We Found the Impossible Burger!

There's no meat in this patty, but it's every bit as good as a ground beef hamburger. Really.

The Impossible Burger at Gaia’s Garden in Santa Rosa looks, tastes and eats like a beef burger. Mostly. Heather Irwin/PD
The Impossible Burger at Gaia’s Garden in Santa Rosa looks, tastes and eats like a beef burger. Mostly. (Photo by Heather Irwin)

A vegan burger that even the staunchest carnivores can sink their teeth into has arrived in Santa Rosa.

Gaia’s Garden (1899 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa) is featuring the much-hullabalooed Impossible Burger, an engineered faux-beef patty years in the making as scientists studied what exactly made a great burger, well, a great burger.

Embraced by some of the highest-end Bay Area chefs including Traci des Jardins (Jardiniere), meat-evangelist Chris Cosentino (Napa’s Acacia House) and St. Helena’s Harvest Table and even Gott’s Roadside in Napa, this isn’t your usual veggie burger. 

Inside of the Impossible Burger. Heather Irwin/PD

What’s the big deal? First off, there’s no dry, gritty flavor of beans, mushrooms, grains, and nuts that have made most of us run screaming from the mere thought of a “vegan” burger.
If we’re getting down to brass tacks, what makes the Impossible Burger unique is that it actually “bleeds” like cooked ground beef.  Sounds yucky, but that’s the truth. More importantly, it also tastes and chews like the meaty version. Mostly. 

The science behind the Impossible Burger is the result of a relentless search for a better burger that was more sustainable for the planet but would be appealing to carnivores. Funded by millions from venture capitalists like Bill Gates, the breakthrough was the connection between“heme”, an iron-containing molecule found in plants and animals. It’s what makes meat taste like meat, but the compound isn’t limited to animal products.

In the case of the Impossible Burger, soy leghemoglobin is the catalyst, which when cooked becomes “heme”, giving this vegan patty the flavor, look and mouthfeel of beef. Weird, right?

The taste test: We’re sold, especially since Gaia’s Garden does the Impossible up fancy with a load of mix and match toppings including caramelized onions, mushrooms, avocado, vegetarian mayo, dairy or non-dairy cheese, lettuce, tomato and all the usual toppings on a soft, herbed whole wheat bun. On a whim we opted for coconut “bacon”, which is nothing like bacon, but gives a delightfully smoky crunch. 

Impossible Burger with avocado and coconut bacon. Heather Irwin/PD
Impossible Burger with avocado and coconut bacon. Heather Irwin/PD

It’s a beast, and ours was overcooked a titch, but, unlike a beef burger, we were full but not full of regret an hour later. Easier on the gut. Easier on the planet. Win-win.

There are competitors to the Impossible Burger already entering the meatless burger market, notably the Beyond Burger, made with pea proteins and beets (for the “bleed”) which we also sampled at a food show and found entirely delicious as well.

We’re a long way from moving away from ground beef as an American food staple, but with vegetable-based products that can satisfy our heme-tooth in a sustainable and delicious way, it’s a huge step in the right direction.

Gaia’s Garden is at 1899 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, 707-544-2491, gaiasgardenonline.com.


19 thoughts on “We Found the Impossible Burger!

  1. I finally tried the Impossible Burger at Gaia’s and oh my word is it delicious! And it’s huge! Seriously so amazing. I had the Impossible Burger at Bibi’s, too, but I prefered Gaia’s Garden’s preparation more. Unfortunately, the Imposter burger at Superburger gave me a really upset stomach, but I am also really sensitive to largely soy-based foods (I’m guessing it is?). Sigh. All tasty stuff, though. It’s so great to have alternatives to beef!

  2. Your blatant mistakes like “vegetarian mayo” (all mayo is vegetarian) and lack of spaces and proper punctuation (try proofreading), and disrespectful, childish descriptions of vegan/vegetarian cuisine make you look uneducated, lazy and ignorant.

    1. Hey Walter, does all that misguided and unnecessary anger give you daily heartburn? Are you a Rolaids or a Maalox man?

    2. Ease up Walter.
      If you find yourself getting fussy over descriptions of the condiments,
      it’s time to take a breath and appreciate the main dish.

  3. So I tried this Impossible Burger. It actually tasted pretty good, closest simulation of a beef patty I have ever run across my palette. Unfortunately, a few hours later I developed abdominal cramping. Later, when it came out, it was painful, like a brick that did not digest. Anyone else have a similar experience?

    1. Tim, this is the first we’ve heard of that reaction, and I’m sorry that it happened to you. We would appreciate hearing if anyone else has suffered digestive upset after having one. My family and I have eaten a bunch without any distress.

  4. I’ve enjoyed going vegan every once in a while. My longest has been 3 months at one time. The best vegan burgers i’ve tasted are the ones from VeganBurg on Haight, in San Francisco. It is not only the best vegan burger, it is also the best burgers I’ve tasted period.

  5. Even though I spend spend half my life vegan for religious reasons, and can appreciate the appeal of this stuff, I realized that products like this, Amy’s, etc. are actually early-adopter frankenfoods. For me, good vegan is whole grains, avocados, beans, lentils, olives, veggies, nuts. Whenever I try to eat simulated meat, it just does not do my body any good. Also, vegan butter (margarine) is horrible for you.

    In other words, it seems to me that PETA and all these organizations pushing this new category of frankenfood are actually very helpful to the long-term plans of Monsanto and other organizations that are trying to move people away from the kind of existence that God designed for humans and the planet.

    1. At Gaia’s Garden, the basic burger is $12.95. “Basic” includes your choices of lettuce, tomato, raw or carmelized onion, conventional mayo or vegan mayo, vegan sriracha aioli, vegan pesto aioli, barbecue sauce, housemade pickle. Add-ons such as coconut bacon, avocado, sauteed mushrooms, vegan cheese are an additional $1.50.

  6. No thanks. I’ll stick with the real thing, thank you. How cool that God gave us dominion over animals to provide us with such delicious protein.

    1. God “gave us dominion?”

      At best, I’ll consider any “dominion” I have to be “borrowed,” and very limited in scope.

  7. I look forward to trying Gaia’s faux-burger, but as a non-vegetarian I love Super Burger’s (Fourth Street) meatless burger.

    1. Thanks Greg! As a local joint Superburger actually owns the national trademark to that vegan, non GMO, gluten free burger called The Imposter. It fools many of our customers into thinking we made a mistake and served them a real hamburger patty. If it wasn’t everything you hoped for in a meat substitute it wouldn’t have made it to Superburger’s menu. We are glad someone noticed 🙂

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