Burger Kings: Where's the Beef

1. Faroe Island Salmon Burger

It doesn't get much fresher than this. To make the Faroe Island Salmon Burger ($12), chef Regan Reik uses whole salmon flown in three times a week, most often from its namesake islands midway between Scotland and Iceland (though it does change seasonally). "We are getting it direct," says Reik. "It's going from fisherman to restaurant." The fish is filleted, ground and then shaped into patties in the restaurant's fish-cutting room. Reik, who recommends ordering the burger medium, keeps everything light with subtly sweet challah bread, a tangy Dijonnaise, and a bright asparagus and fennel slaw to complete the refreshing dish. Winton Place, 12700 Lake Ave., Lakewood, 216-228-2250, pierw.com

2. Vegan Burger

You'd think for a restaurant known for its grass-fed beef burgers, one of their biggest selling items would be a meaty, greasy option. Not so, says BRGR 9 owner Fadi Daoud. The popular choice here is the vitamin-packed, 8-ounce Vegan Burger ($9). A mishmash of squash, spinach, carrots, edamame, garbanzo beans and zucchini is coated in breadcrumbs and drizzled with tart chimichurri and creamy guacamole for a light-yet-satisfying meal. "It fills you up but won't put you to sleep," says Daoud. 1382 W. Ninth St., Cleveland, 216-535-0001, brgr9.com

3. Chicken chorizo

Buckeye Beer Engine is always hungry for experimentation. Two years ago, chef Chuck Leggett came up with the Chicken Chorizo Burger ($9.50) as a monthly feature, but it was so popular he added it to the brewpub's menu. Smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and red wine vinegar are mixed with a hand-molded Ohio farm chicken patty, while avocado, pepper jack cheese and tomato add an extra kick. "You have all that flavor, but the chicken chorizo is a healthier alternative to pork or a beef burger," says Leggett. 15315 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-2337, buckeyebeerengine.com

4. Veggie burger

Even carnivores can appreciate what Town Hall's veggie burger ($10.50) has to offer. "I think we captured that unique hamburger texture, which is greatly lacking in so very many mushy veggie burgers I've tried in the past," says chef and owner Fabio Salerno. His secret is to roast beets, cook onions and then round things out with a combination of smoky spices before searing it to perfection. Rosemary aioli, pickles, white cheddar cheese and a bed of organic arugula on a buttery toasted bun balance out the sandwich. "No single ingredient overpowers the other," he says. 1909 W. 25th St., Cleveland, 216-344-9400, townhallohiocity.com

5. Shrimp Burger

More over cocktail sauce. We found a new way to enjoy shrimp thanks to Brown Bag Burgers. Seasoned lightly with Cajun spice, the Shrimp Burger ($5.79) had us diving in again and again for another bite of the plump, grilled seafood patty layered with house-made bruschetta topping, garlic mayo and onion straws. "What's unexpected about this burger is that it is lighter — people are expecting shrimp on top of a burger, but it's just the seafood," says general manager John Jacobs. "Plus, everything here is grilled to order." 25853 Brookpark Road, North Olmsted, 440-801-1122, brownbagburgers.com

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