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Burger Friday: World Street Kitchen

Posted by: Rick Nelson under Restaurant reviews Updated: October 11, 2013 - 1:55 PM

The burger: The word vegan has near-pejorative status in Burgerworld, where, vegan and burger would appear to have the same affinity as Congress and popular. Until, that is, the falafel burger at World Street Kitchen came along.

Rather than its meat- and dairy-free qualities, let's zero in on its chief attribute: taste. There's a lot to go on. The patty is basically a giant falafel that's stuffed, Juicy Lucy-style, with slow-simmered, sumac-scented onions. And what falafel: chickpeas ground with plenty of parsley and cilantro for color, and cumin and cilantro for flavor. Cayenne, black and white peppers contribute just enough heat to keep things interesting.

Then it's off to the deep fryer, where the patty attains a crunchy brown shell that reveals a creamy, spring-green interior, with those mouth-melting onions at its center. It's a stuffed burger that doesn't embrace the Juicy Lucy name.

"Maybe it should, now that I think about it," said chef/co-owner Sameh Wadi with a laugh. "But the whole thing is vegan, and I don't want to turn too many people off with any cheese or meat references."

Done. We'll all keep the Juicy Lucy chatter to a mininum, and instead turn our attention to garnishes, particularly the swipe of tangy tahini sauce blended with pickles and lemon juice, and a few delicate leaves of red romaine lettuce. As for the house-baked bun? Wadi inserts spelt for some much-needed umph, then gives it a light toasting. Seriously, butter? Mayonnaise? Cheese? Beef? Who needs 'em?

Here's another reason to love: The recipe originates with Wadi's mother. "Mom never made the stuffed ones at home, that's too complicated," he said. "But the actual falafel is the same that she uses at home, to this day."

Truly, a veggie burger for the ages. "It's extremely popular, to the point that I will never change it," said Wadi with a laugh. "Just talking about making even the slightest change, and I get dirty looks."

Fries: None.

Price: $9.

Address book: 2743 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-424-8855. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Talk to me: Do you have a favorite burger? Share the details at rick.nelson@startribune.com.

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