When viewed as a substitute or alternative for beef, meat-free burgers can get a little controversial. They fly in the face of plant-based diets that reject eating cows while confounding those who relish eating cows. But really, when a new, vibrant burger arrives on the scene, it's unfair to quibble and not just eat up. Frida's Deli opened shop in University City on Thursday, July 12, and promptly proved that hearty, healthy vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free fare can also taste downright, well, meaty. Robust sandwiches such as its "crab cake burger," "steak" sandwich and tempeh "BLT" approach meat-free mains with flavor and texture to rival any deli in town. The "Frida Burger," however, is a standout: a sandwich that stacks a giant housemade vegan burger with tomato and tahini-chipotle slaw, served with mixed greens and an apple dressing. (It should be said that the sheer size of the burger is challenge enough, sans any side dish whatsoever.) Owner Natasha Kwan takes special pride in the "Frida Burger," having spent years of trial and error perfecting the recipe. She describes her burger as a combination of Match Meat (a local company! Woo-hoo!) blended with beans, vegetables, herbs and spices. The crisp edges of the patty give way to a thoroughly flavorful, fluffy, juicy core, and the tahini-chipotle slaw keeps everything juicy. In short, the "Frida Burger" isn't a substitute for anything; it's a fine burger in its own right.
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