It’s hard to argue that we’re not spoiled foodies here in Los Angeles. What, with all the fresh local produce and overabundance of exceptional vegan & vegetarian restaurants, we’ve really got nothing to complain about. Still, sometimes you just want to be able to walk into to any ol’ place and order something off the menu without having to worry about what secret ingredients are lurking within. It’s getting easier to do just that these days as more “regular” restaurants are expanding their menus to include not only vegetarian but also entirely vegan options. Johnny Rockets, the 50′s style burger joint is one such place. Known for their jukeboxes, milkshakes and all-beef grilled patties, Johnny Rockets has taken a step in the right direction and added an all vegan burger option to their menu.

'Vegan Veggie Burger at Johnny Rockets

Here we have what Johnny Rockets has dubbed “The Streamliner”: the original meatless Boca® burger with grilled onions, fresh lettuce, ripe tomato, pickle & mustard. I ordered mine without the onions, natch. I inquired as to if they also offered soy-cheese, which they do not, but which they really should. I mean if you’re gonna come this far, why only come part of the way?

This burger was darn good! As mentioned, they use the Boca burger which is made from soy and is entirely vegan. I don’t recall ever trying a Boca burger before and I really liked it. It had a smokey, charbroiled flavor to it which I don’t think came from the grill itself but was actually part of the burger seasonings. The buns are also vegan. I did not order fries but you’ll be happy to know that their fries are also totally vegan, cooked entirely in vegetable oil, not beef tallow. Sadly, they do not have any vegan shakes. Yet.

'Vegan Veggie Burger at Johnny Rockets

My verdict: very tasty. Certainly not the greatest burger I’ve ever had in my life, but definitely enjoyable… and added with the fact that I was able to eat it while at a place as ridiculously normal, corporate and contrived as Johnny Rockets while listening to Leslie Gore cry about her party on the jukebox, well, it was pretty special. My only complaint is the color of the pattie… kind of beige and homely looking. A darker color would make it look more appetizing. I’m not big on additives and unnecessary ingredients being put into my food, but on the other hand, this is already a processed, pre-packaged, frozen convenience food, not an organic, locally grown, pristine salad… so I don’t think that adding a bit of “caramel coloring” to make it look a little bit more appealing would hurt. Are you listening Boca people? Your burger is mighty tasty, but it’s also butt ugly.

Giving credit where credit is due, I learned about the Streamliner burger at Johnny Rockets via Lane at the excellent VeganBits blog when he wrote about it back in May, though I only now got around to trying it. I was so hungry when I sat down at the Johnny Rockets counter to try this burger that I forgot to pay attention to whether they used a separate grill or not to keep my innocent soy burger away from the bloody meat juice on the main grill. Thankfully Lane was paying close attention on his visit and confirms in his post that indeed, his eagle eye noticed that the burgers truly were cooked on separate grills from their meat & cheese counterparts.

The Johnny Rockets website also assures us that:

“Please be aware that we designate a special area of the grill on which to cook only the Boca Burger and we do everything in our power to keep the area free from other materials. We also have special color-coded turners and tongs which help to keep cross-contamination to a minimum.”

It seems like they’re making a real effort to be vegetarian-friendly, well… as vegetarian-friendly as you can get while still being a meat peddler that proudly boasts of serving 13 million beef hamburgers to your guest each year. Oh the irony.

Johnny Rockets has locations just about everywhere in the USA other than the Midwest Western Middle of the country (and Portland for some reason), so if you’re anywhere other than those areas, you’ll probably be able to find a location just by throwing a rock in any heavily foot-trafficked direction. I ate at the Encino spot on Ventura Blvd., though for the full experience you might want to visit their original Melrose location, that is if you can find yourself a seat between the hoards of Japanese tourists and hairy bikers.

P.S. You might also want to know that Boca burgers are owned by Kraft Foods.

Which of the following statements are true?
1.) Kraft is EVIL
2.) Kraft is owned by Philip Morris tobacco
3.) Kraft uses Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) in most of their products.
If you picked “All of the Above” you would be correct.

Some of the Boca burgers are made with organic (and therefore non-GMO ingredients), though I cannot confirm which exact Boca product Johnny Rockets is using. The menu says it’s the “100% Soy Boca Burger”, but that’s not an actual name of any Boca product. Boca lists two vegan burgers on their website, the “Original Vegan” which is not organic, and the “Vegan made with Organic Soy”, which is. Beats me which one J.R’s is feeding us. So, if after eating this burger you turn into a mutant and/or start to sprout purple soybean monsters with teeth from out yer ears, don’t come cryin’ to me.

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13 Responses to “All beef and no soy make Johnny a dull boy.”
  1. I love hearing about when big corporations start paying attention to the growing vegan movement! Awesome!

  2. Destiny says:

    That’s cool that they offer vegan options, but yeah, Boca burgers are not the coolest. I’m grossed out by their texture. I wish Amy’s California burgers were more popular among restaurants. They’re made out of “real” ingredients and aren’t bland or weirdly pale (Boca!). And vegan shakes would be the best!

  3. scott says:

    Robert Kraft also owns the Patriots, the greatest football team ever.

  4. tofufreak says:

    I love JR’s!!! I actually have only been there once (as a 6th grader) with my friend. interestingly enough, i ordered the streamliner! (i wasn’t even veg at the time!) so anyways, i can attest to how yummy and convenient it is for us vegans to have a spot at JR’S!!!

  5. SCVegan says:

    Wow… Well, that’s pretty cool of them. I don’t think I have ever been inside of a Johnny Rockets; I’ll need to check this out.

  6. quarrygirl says:

    i had the streamliner a couple of years ago, and it TOTALLY tasted like meat juice, as though it had been cooked on the same grill. maybe they have changed. OR maybe it’s because mine had onions on it and they cooked the onions in meat juice. who knows? well, that looks tasty anyways.

    cool thing about boca burgers, evil or not, they are sold in HUGE boxes at my local costco. i recommend grabbing them and keeping them around as a quick meal. they are only 100 calories for the big ones, and 0 grams of fat! suhweet!

    i will def go check out the johnny rockets situation again. and i will get fries. yum.

  7. Vegyogini says:

    I’ve enjoyed the Streamliner a few times and I think it’s a really nice option to have. It might not be the most nutrient-dense meal, but it’s vegan and tasty.

  8. Melisser says:

    Good to know there’s vegan options on the road or when dining with non-veg folks!

  9. Jennifer says:

    That’s a cool “mainstream” restaurant vegan item to find! I’m confused, though, about Johnny Rockets not being in the midwest; we have at least two here in Columbus.

  10. laura says:

    ALL OF THE ABOVE! Kraft is the DEVIL! Boca, why did you sell out?! Le sigh.

    Also, Your burger is mighty tasty, but it’s also butt ugly.

    OKAY?!?!?!? I grill mine in the george foreman grilling machine (god bless this glorious thing!) and it makes it a little better to look at. a little.

  11. Nikki says:

    You crack me up! I used to love JR’s back in the omni days so this would be fun. I like being able to go to mainstream places with omni friends and not stress them out with all my creative ordering.

  12. FoodEater says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone! I’m pretty excited to see that many of you already knew about the Streamliner. I had no idea it’s been on their menu for a long time… mostly because I usually never go to places like this unless being dragged kicking & screaming.

    quarrygirl: They claim to also cook the onions and toast the buns for the vegetarian burgers on the clean veg only grill, so technically even your onions should have been death free by association. Of course who knows what the disgruntled 16 year who cooked your burger that day actually did, but it’s suppose to be their policy to keep everything separate. I’d imagine that realistically like in all things, they occasionally (and in this case) unfortunately slip up.

    Jennifer: My bad on calling that area the Midwest. I always get confused about where the Midwest actually is, considering that it’s not in the West or in the Middle of anything. Blame my ignorance on the lack of geography taught in American schools if you must! To correct my error, it’s not the Midwest that’s lacking in Johnny Rockets, it’s the Middle Western section of the country. Hmmmmm.

    You can see the map of all their locations here:

  13. Kirby! says:

    Hahaha, Johnny Rockets…. I used to go there with my friends in high school because this guy we hated worked there. And when you play “New York, New York” on the jukebox, all the employees have to stop what they’re doing and sing the song with a humiliating little dance. GOOD TIMES!