Impossible Burgers Spawn Impossible Tacos
… and the Meat May Be Better than the Real Thing
A meat substitute that looks, cooks and tastes like beef – actually better? Done, done and done, with Impossible Meat, says Chef Tim Hockett, who uses the product with gusto at Lettuce Entertain You’s phenomenally popular Chicago restaurants, M Burger and Tallboy Taco. The hands-down success of these entrees at his meat-centric venues illuminates the growing appetite for vegan alternatives, and a no-risk way to introduce a plant-based concept to a traditional menu.
The debut of the Impossible Taco at the beginning of 2018 was an immediate hit, starting with his crew – not a vegetarian among them. “They loved it, and that’s when we knew we had to try it out,” he remembers. The limited-time-only dish elicited an equally avid response from customers, a gratifying but not surprising development given the Impossible Burger’s drawing power at all six M Burger locations.
Ironically, Hockett initially had minimal interest in introducing a meatless burger, citing the unimpressive taste profile of most veggie burgers. “I was skeptical until I saw it, looking like beef, marbled with coconut fat. When I cooked it on the griddle, it seared up like a regular burger and it tasted better than a regular burger.” Now a believer, Hockett launched the Impossible Burger in summer 2017 and customers lined up down the block for a chance to try the buzzy new non-beef. The interest never waned, he says: “It sells as quickly as we get it in stock.”
One of the only quick serve places using the Impossible Burger, Hockett says the only drawback is the higher cost. “It’s a little bit pricy ($8.99 versus $6.99 for the traditional M Burger) but because it tastes so darn good, our servers are not afraid to recommend it to anyone…and then they come back and order it again and again. It not only has a major appeal to vegetarians, with clean label and environmentally sustainable attributes, but is perfect for introducing meat eaters to a new option they can enjoy.”