Restaurant Review: Monty’s Good Burger challenges perceptions of vegan food

Jasmine Yamanaka/HIGHLANDER
Burger 9/10
Fries 9/10
Dips 8.5/10
Shakes 9/10
Desserts 7/10
Price $$
Ambience 8.5/10

 

With the Riverside Food Lab in downtown Riverside being the latest great place to eat, vegan food may seem like the last thing you’d want to order there. After all, when people picture vegan food, they picture salads, soy and bland flavors. Monty’s Good Burger fights this stereotype, presenting customers with an In-N-Out style meal with the added bonus of it all being vegan, organic and locally sourced.

Upon approaching Monty’s Good Burger in the food hall, you’re greeted by neon signs and bar stools. The ambiance is reminiscent of an 80s-style diner, and is definitely the type of place you’d go to take Instagram photos. My only complaint was that the stools can’t be moved, and the space to eat is limited due to a lack of ample seating.

When looking at the menu, the first thing that immediately caught my eye were the prices. A single patty burger with the works was $11! As a college student on a budget, spending $11 on one burger did not seem worth it. Nevertheless, I decided to pick something from every section of the menu to get the true “Monty’s experience.” I ordered the classic single patty burger, Julienne Fries with an onion aioli dipping sauce, a strawberry shake and a “Sonoran cowboy” cookie.

Upon receiving the single patty burger with fries, I noticed that the burger was a bit smaller than I had expected. However, it looked extremely mouthwatering, with a soft bun and a juicy patty. Biting into the burger, I was swept away by the house spread sauce. All of the elements of the burger were extremely crisp and fresh, and the burger was juicy and tasted extremely rich. I personally do not eat beef, but when I let my friends try the burger, they were shocked by how much the burger tasted like a real beef patty. The burger was overall extremely high quality, but what really elevated the sandwich was the house sauce. The flavour reminded me of a “thousand island” spread, but of a higher quality, a stronger flavor and with more of a kick.

Next, I bit into the Julienne Fries. The fries were extremely fluffy but just crispy enough on the outside. I felt very “clean” when eating them, because they weren’t excessively oily and my hands weren’t greasy after eating them. For the price of $4, you receive a good amount of fries that you’ll definitely savor. I dipped the fries into the onion aioli, hoping to be just as blown away as I was when I tried the house spread sauce. I was a bit disappointed, however. The onion aioli had a decent flavor; it was very light and tasted like a classy rendition of a sour cream and onion dip. However, it did not meet the high standards of the house spread, especially considering the fact that I had to pay an extra dollar for it to accompany my fries. The house spread was much more fulfilling and had a stronger flavor. The onion aioli was almost too light, and the flavor was not as unique as the house spread.

To switch things up, I tried the strawberry milkshake. When you first receive the milkshake, the first thing you’ll want to do is take a photo of it. The shake is a vivid pink color with a large strawberry on top and comes with a cute paper straw. When I took the first sip, I was awestruck by how light and creamy the shake was. I couldn’t believe that it contained no milk! The shake was extremely rich, frothy and had a very natural strawberry flavor. When I asked the chefs how they made the shake, they told me that they used real strawberries! I was extremely satisfied by the shake, and it was truly $5 well spent.

Lastly, I ended my meal with desert. I had originally wanted to try the “Middle of Brownie” cookie, but they had unfortunately run out because that flavor was extremely popular. I figured I would try the “Sonoran Cowboy” cookie instead, because one of the cashiers highly recommended it. He told me that the cookie was a vegan cookie filled with organic raisins, oats, chocolate and nuts. I bit into the cookie, anticipating a taste similar to an oatmeal raisin cookie. However, I was completely surprised to find that it tasted exactly like a coconut cluster cookie. The cookie did not taste anything like an oatmeal raisin cookie, and had a very crumbly texture. The only flavor was coconut, with a raisin or two in every bite. Personally, I enjoy the flavor of coconut, but this cookie was not as good as I had expected it to be. For the cost of $4, I expected the cookie to be higher quality, especially considering how good the other items were.

After eating all that food, I was surprised because I wasn’t feeling bloated and full. I felt satisfied and I didn’t feel “gross.” Typically after eating fast food, you feel sluggish and heavy, but I actually felt very light. If you were to tell me that all of the food I ate was completely vegan, I would not believe it. Monty’s Good Burger helped me realise that you can enjoy “unhealthy” food in a healthier way that is made with local ingredients, and that vegan food is so much more than what we see on TV. All of the food was overall very good and high quality, with a few exceptions.

My only complaint is the price point. For what you get, the prices are extremely hiked up. I understand that the prices are higher than what I’m used to because all of the food is plant based, locally sourced and organic. However, even with that in mind, $11 for a burger that I finished in less than three minutes is not exactly something I could afford on a daily basis. Monty’s Good Burger is a great place to dine at and everyone should try it at least once. However, Monty’s is the type of place you’d go to if you wanted to treat yourself and your friends, not a fast-food joint that you could visit more consistently.

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