When it comes to favorite foods, burgers top your kidlet’s list. But for all that greasy goodness, there’s parent guilt to match. That’s why we’re crushing on Seattle’s new plant-based burger joint, Next Level Burger. It’s where you and your crew can nosh on tasty vegan burgers, heaping piles of fries and rich creamy shakes, guilt-free. Read on for the drool-worthy deets!

Origin Story
Like many great inventions, Next Level Burger was born out of necessity. After owners Matt and Cierra de Gruyter had their first child, Cierra went on a quest that’s familiar to many new parents. She set out to find healthy ways to feed her family. Without any formal training, aided by a slew of cookbooks, what she discovered led Cierra to adopt a vegetarian and eventually 100% plant-based diet for her crew. Next up on her to-do list: find a healthy, sustainable, vegan restaurant the whole fam could enjoy. But nothing fit the bill, so the couple took Cierra’s home-cooked meals to the streets, and a food revolution was born. Next Level Burger’s first restaurant opened in Bend, Oregon in 2015. Since that time, Matt and Cierra have opened two other Oregon spots (in Portland and Lake Oswego), and on August 25, they opened the doors at their first Seattle restaurant inside the Roosevelt Square Whole Foods, where they serve up “burgers for a better world.” And from what we’ve seen, theses two are on a mission to redefine the classic American burger, using responsibly-sourced, organic, GMO-free, plant-based ingredients, and do their part to save our planet too.

photo: Next Level Burger

Burgers You’ll Flip For!
Whether you and your crew are down with plant-based foods (you old pro), or you just want to see what this whole “food revolution” is about, it’s easy to find something for everyone on the Next Level Burger menu. Burgers are what this joint’s all about, so don’t shy away from ordering one, piled high with the good stuff. Creative combos like Bleu BBQ (featuring tempeh bacon, blue cheese and BBQ sauce) and the All American (topped with tempeh bacon, cheese and mayo) seamlessly substitute impostor ingredients like egg-free mayo, dairy-free cheese and meatless bacon without skipping a beat. And the variety of plant-based patties (like Umami mushroom & quinoa, house-made black bean & veggie, and quinoa & black chia seed) mean you and your sidekick can nosh on a new burger each time you visit until you settle on a favorite. Families will find a few non-burger items on Next Level’s menu too. If you’re craving bold veggies, disguised or otherwise, try a sandwich, hot dog or salad. Long story short, even the most dedicated carnivores in your fam won’t miss the meat when they dig in to these burgers, hot dogs and more!

photo: Michael Shay

Would You Like Fries With That?
What’s a burger without fries? Next Level’s got you covered here too, with standard crinkles, tots and sweets (all have the option of being oven baked or deep fried in sunflower oil to help families make healthy choices). But they’ve also got “Fries with Style,” dressed up vegan versions of those drool-worthy combos you normally pass up, thanks to the calories. Here you can nosh on old school faves like chili chz fries and Bleu BBQ (topped with tempeh bacon and gooey dairy-free sauces) without the guilt. Speaking of, the calorie and protein counts alongside each menu item make it easy for parents to find healthy options that’ll totally fill up bity bellies with the good stuff.

Shake It Up!
Whether you order one with your meal, or save it as a dessert, do not pass up the coconut or soy based ice cream shakes when you’re there. They’re thick enough to eat with a spoon, and so creamy it’s hard to believe they’re dairy free. Order up a basic flavor ($6), like vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter or coffee. Or take it to the next level ($6.50). We’re talking brownie explosion, salted caramel & peanut and dark chocolate PB cup to name a few. Each one is hand-spun like the old days and big enough to split with your sidekick or your better half. Yum!

For Kids Only!
Parents of picky eaters, we totally feel ya. And it’s one of the reasons we love the Kids Meal menu at Next Level Burger. Everything on it is chock-full of hidden veggies, beans and other good stuff, so you can relax and let your Little order whatever tasty treat looks good that day. And we’re pretty sure even the pickiest eaters will find something to love here. The kids’ menu options include quinoa patty burgers, an atypical grilled chz, nut butter and jelly sandwiches, plus a seasoned vegan hot dog that’s got 32 grams of protein cooked right in. Each meal ($7) comes with organic fries and organic grape juice. Plus, they’ve got that Goldie Locks, not too much and not too little, just right size thing going on too. It’s nom nom goodness that feels like a treat!

Next Level Burger
1026 N.E. 64th St.
Seattle, Wa 98115
206-319-0026
Online: nextlevelburger.com

Do you think you’ll try Next Level Burger? Already been? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

— Allison Sutcliffe (all images courtesy the writer, unless otherwise noted)