by Jessica Suriano
Husband and wife Ari Shapiro and Kerry Lane were hiking in Canada four years ago when they had an undeniable craving for burgers and fries. However, the Tucsonans’ adherence to meatless diets made that craving much more difficult to appease – until Beaut Burger.
Lane, a vegan chef, and Shapiro, a vegetarian and owner of the Tucson pizzeria, Falora, aren’t newbies to the dining scene, but Beaut Burger is a refreshing twist on the traditional burger joint in virtually every way.
Not only does it serve burgers that don’t leave your stomach feeling heavy or overstuffed, but its infrastructure is made from renovated shipping containers. The MSA Annex, an extension of the Mercado San Agustín, houses shops and restaurants within open shipping containers for a modern and minimalist design that blends into the beauty of Tucson’s natural landscape. The renovated containers allow for plenty of open-air seating and natural light.
“There were a lot of locations that we looked at, but we really loved this area and loved this concept and wanted to just do it here,” Shapiro says.
Since opening in June, Shapiro says Tucsonans’ reactions to the restaurant has exceeded expectations, especially by customers who aren’t vegetarian but still choosing to eat at Beaut Burger.
“We weren’t sure we’d still be here in six months, but we’re here and then some,” he says.
The recipe for the burger patties is a secret, but they are made with millet, pinto beans and many different vegetables and spices. The moisture in the patty and the size of it are some of the qualities Shapiro says sets Beaut Burger’s patties apart from traditional and sometimes dry veggie burgers.
Shapiro says the B4 burger for $6.75 is among the most popular menu items, a patty topped with griddled mushrooms, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and mayonnaise.
Another burger with a creative twist is the B7 for $7.50, with peanut butter, tamarind chutney and romaine lettuce. The B9 burger comes with roasted eggplant, pepita pesto and housemade mozzarella for $8.
Of course, tried-and-true classics such as the B1 for $5.50, a patty with ketchup, mustard, lettuce, onion and pickle, and the B2 for $6.50, the same as the B1 with added cheddar cheese, are available for less adventurous eaters.
The burgers are served on a house-baked, slow-fermented bun, but can be substituted with a gluten-free bun for an extra $2.
The fries, made with expeller-pressed sunflower oil, are also a fan favorite and were named some of the best in Tucson. Choose between hand-cut russet or sweet potato fries for $2.75, and add spice or fresh herbs to them for 25 cents more.
If the fries won’t cut it, other picnic-perfect sides include potato salad, beer battered cauliflower bites, barley bonzo, vaquero beans and vegetables, coleslaw and a dill pickle. Barley bonzo is a dish of cold barley topped with tahini dressing, cucumber, tomato, toasted garbanzo beans and herbs. Shapiro says the vaquero beans they use come from a local seed search organization.
The dessert options stay true to Beaut Burger’s commitment to comfort food. The first is a scotcheroo for $4.75, a peanut butter rice crispy with vegan chocolate ganache topping, and the second is a deep-dish fruit crisp for the same price.
Along with usual beverage options, patrons can also choose between three different types of wine, six different beers, organic juices or homemade limeade. During the 4 to 6 p.m. happy hour, a Miller High Life is $1 with purchase of a burger.
Beaut Burger seems to be succeeding so far in its mission to provide health-conscious options of staple fast foods to this corner of the Southwest, so that taste, flavor and dietary needs no longer have to be mutually exclusive.
“I think people love that it’s comfort food, that we don’t make a big deal about saying that it’s vegan or vegetarian – and that was all very purposeful because we didn’t want to narrowly define what we’re doing,” Shapiro says. “We just think if food is good, people will eat it, and they’ll like it and they’ll come back. You don’t have to overly label it.”
11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily