Meatless Goes Mainstream

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
Hawaiian Burger from Eden Burger

“Our plan and our dream is to someday compete with mainstream fast-food giants—to go head-to-head with McDonald’s and take away their customers,” Chad Goodwin says. His dream is manifested in Eden Burger, the buzzy vegan joint near the Ohio State campus he opened with co-owner Sebastian Kobach.

Goodwin says that Eden Burger, an organic, fast-food-style restaurant that transitioned from a pop-up eatery to a brick-and-mortar success about a year and a half ago, is scouting multiple locations for expansion. As you might’ve guessed from its name and Goodwin’s aspirations, Eden Burger isn’t lacking ideals or ambition.

What Eden Burger does “lack”—a connection to what Goodwin calls “the industrial factory-farming complex”—is exactly what his zero-waste-focused business doesn’t want. Should his dreams come true, what Eden Burger offers—quick, affordable burgers starring handmade, griddle-smashed veggie patties with an irresistible, mushroom-y “meatiness”—will propel Goodwin’s company into “the most sustainable food supply chain in the world.”

His dream may be distant, but it’s much closer than it once was. Veggie burgers have come a long way since the days when warmed-over frozen pucks with perplexing flavors were the norm. Locally, much credit goes to pioneering Northstar Café and its celebrated Northstar burger, a rice-bean-beet patty that’s been turning heads and changing minds for more than a decade.

The fire Northstar helped ignite has spread to countless menus around town. These days, you’ll find compelling veggie burgers ranging from The Sycamore’s hearty quinoa burger and the decked-out falafel burger served at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing to flavorful iterations of the Impossible Burger (a white-hot national brand) available at farm-friendly, fast-casual Acre. It even comes in slider form at area White Castles.