All this month, Another Food Critic is taking a special look at the vegetarian options on local restaurants’ menus. To learn more, click here.
I suppose I should start this off by telling you I worked for Burger King in high school. Purists might be afraid that might compromise my ability to review the place by giving my fond memories of the place an unfair advantage, but I have to imagine it’s just as much of a disadvantage to them as well.
Sure, I get a craving for a whopper now and then, and the smell of the BK lounge takes me back. Unless, of course, I happened to leave my closet door open that day, and the work boots I used at BK are out. I last set a working foot in there five years ago, but I still have whopper-smelling boots. But I digress.
Unlike McDonalds, you see, Burger King does in fact have a vegetarian burger, which is reasonably healthy at 320 calories (410 with mayo, amazingly) but it tastes about like a leather shoe. I don’t even know what’s in the thing, even BK’s website glosses over its contents. In an average workday I know a handful of people would order them, but they’re no gourmet meals.
Sorry, BK fans, but I’m going to have to burst your bubble about the rest of the “healthy” stuff on the menu. Those new smoothies, strawberry-banana and tropical-mango? 410 and 450 calories, respectively for a 20-oz shake. The salads here come with chicken on top of them too. The “tendercrisp” varieties range from 670 to 700 calories, while the grilled chicken isn’t much better at 490-520 calories. Somehow the dressing itself is a celebration of excess: The apple cider vinaigrette is 210 calories. Honey mustard is 220. The ranch dressing is somehow less fatty at 170 calories per packet. I’ll leave it at that.
Burger King is a few millimeters in front of its competitors as far as variety for its meat-free dishes. But the options are so packed with sugar and sodium, the place clearly hasn’t caught on that people want healthy food. In fact, it’s completely missed the point of making a veggie menu in the first place.