Since approximately 90% of my recent blog traffic has been people searching Google for “Unburger,” and landing on my last musing about its impending arrival, I come bearing a gift.

That’s right, it’s the Unburger menu, posted on their window on Stradbrook Avenue!

The beef burgers!


The veggie and bison burgers!


The chicken burgers!

Apologies for the horrendous quality. I need a real camera. But you can mostly make-out the ingredients, which pledge fresh, never-frozen beef and all other sorts of burger-related goodness. They also are planning to serve some big salads and intriguing sides, including edamame. 

My hungry-heart highlights:


The Drunken Aussie: Golden pineapple, Balsamic onion & tomat relish, carmelized onion, double-smoked bacon, aged Canadian cheddar, free range egg (sunny side up) and herbed mayo


Shanghai: Inhouse Asia slaw and sweet and spicy chili mayo. Can’t Handle the heat? Get the Shanglow.


The Bombay & Tonic: Premium chickpea patty, inhouse hummous, pickled pepper relish, green leaf and tzatiki sauce

They are also hiring, for all you frenzied Googlers out there. Call 888-1001 or drop off your resume at the joint.

This menu gives me the perfect opportunity to share my latest favourite idea, ever, in a post that’s been percolating since I got home from Portland.

That idea is Burgerville. They make burgers there.

Big deal, so what. Another burger chain, right? Another big slab o’ beef hocked between a bun, yes? Maybe with some bacon? (Mmm… bacon…) They cook to order, that’s nice. But what makes Burgerville different?

Take a deep breath, because I’m about to tell you.

First, their food is almost entirely local to the Pacific Northwest. Their beef — tons and tons of it each year — is grass-fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and grown by a farmer-led consortium. They grill it up fresh, never frozen. Their eggs come from cage-free chickens. Their fish is wild-caught and sustainable. They turn local, organic harvests into seasonal specialties, such as raspberry shakes in the summer. They sell fair-trade coffee and free-range turkey burgers. Their packaging is full of cute little trivia items about Coho salmon and other such classic West Coast food.

Here’s what’s really wild: they tell you exactly where their food comes from. Their bottled water comes from rain.  They buy wind-power credits for 100% of their energy use, convert all their cooking oil to biodiesel, and compost or recycle a whole crapload of stuff, keeping 85% of their waste out of landfills. Even their part-time employees get affordable health care, with the company contributing 90% of the premium for employees and dependents — a benefit that cannot be understated. Store general managers get to join the Burgerville Chef’s Council and actively develop the chain’s menu. And their news page reads like a Suzukian wet dream of sustainability, community investment, and responsible corporate leadership.

One last kicker: the receipt. This is it. Notice something funny?

My actual receipt, for the actual succulent slab of cow I devoured.

My jaw dropped when the cashier handed me this. There are calories on it. And fat. And it automatically adjusts for everything you take off (for instance, if you hold the mayo, it’ll show the stats minus the mayo.) Here you go: all the information that can be a difficult and squinty quest to find at every other fast-food joint, slapped right in the middle of your receipt, and broken down by percentage of recommended daily intake for males and females.

Remember: this is not some precious little boutique burger joint. This is a major Pacific Northwest chain with 40 locations in Oregon and Washington alone, a multimillion-dollar business that has won major national awards and was named the fourth best-tasting burger in the U.S. (I’ve had In’n'Out, for the record. Burgerville was better, and much less messy.)

Think all these Values ™ must cost an arm and a leg? Think again.

For all this rigorous focus on local and sustainable and organic and employee-friendly practices, you do pay a premium at Burgerville. But it’s slight. A Pepper-Bacon Cheeseburger meal at Burgerville is $7.99 U.S.; only a buck or two more than a Wendy’s Bacon Deluxe meal — and the enviro-smug feeling you get when you’re sinking your teeth into those burgers is well worth that buck.

This is so much more than just a juicy food chain. This is important.

Here’s the thing: as long as burgers have such a choke-hold on North America’s gastronomic imagination, we need to consider that burgers are serious business. They impact our food policy, our economy, our agriculture and — last but certainly not least — our health. 

In a perfect world, we’d all be eating Boon Burgers. But humans aren’t perfect. We like our slabs of cheese-drenched beef. And in almost every aspect of its progressive — and profitable — policies, Burgerville shows that you can do big, beefy North American fast-food cuisine the right way.

The whole time I was scarfing down my oh-so-tender burger, I was thinking: Manitoba is lucky to have a feast of agriculture on our doorstep. We could easily make a burger joint like this work here. We just need someone with the vision, and the will, to start ‘er up.

Looks like Unburger is angling to get in on that game.

I wonder if they’ve ever eaten at Burgerville. Part of me suspects they have.


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.