Los Angeles is known as a haven and hotspot for vegan food, with meatless alternatives available on almost every menu and hundreds of restaurants specializing in plant-based cuisine. However, Venice resident Peter Williams and his wife Erin Harnisch saw a gap in the available offerings.
“We noticed that a lot of the burger joints were converting to solely doing factory-produced meat replacements like Beyond or Impossible, which we have nothing against – we actually enjoy them ourselves from time to time– but we found ourselves really craving just a simple, savory veggie burger with less processed food and simpler ingredients,” Williams said.
This craving led Williams and Harnisch to create Herbie Burger, a fully vegan restaurant that opened its doors Aug. 1 with the goal of serving up home-made, nutritious and flavorful food to appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike.
“We’re really focused on making scratch-made vegan comfort food which is different from a lot of the other vegan fast food places,” Williams said. “That’s really what our differentiation is.”
The signature Herbie Burger patty is made primarily from a mix of black-beans and mushrooms and was developed by Williams, who is the chef behind the restaurant’s offerings.
“It took a lot of experimentation but we finally came up with the right mix of ingredients, kind of playing around with the proportions, flavoring what kind of vegan binder we were going to go with, but over the course of a couple of years we really refined it and got it to a place we really love,” Williams said.
Other menu items include buffalo tofu tenders and vegan loaded nachos, as well as several sides which Williams said have proven popular.
“Everyone loves the vegan elote,” he said. “There’s a nice kind of spicy blend and in-house we make a vegan version of cotija cheese that is cashew-based and super savory and people have given really good feedback on that dish.”
Herbie Burger is located in Culver City and is currently only open for delivery and pick-up, but Williams said they have plans to expand to an eat-in location in the future once the business becomes more established.
“We’re really focused right now on getting up and running and creating a brand, but we would love to be in a brick and mortar in the future,” Williams said. “It’s really so valuable to be able to interact with your customers and get that direct feedback.”
For now, Williams said he is relying on order patterns to gauge people’s reaction to the food.
“We’re getting a lot of repeat customers,” Williams said. “People can tell you your food is good but until I see people ordering over and over again, which we’re starting to see, that’s when I really know we have a good acceptance and that people love the food.”
More information about Herbie Burger and their menu can be found on their website