Lansing may not be the home of the hamburger, but it sure isn’t a stranger to them, either. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or an evening to entertain an elevated palette, Lansing’s burger joints won’t disappoint. And don’t worry if you aren’t a meat eater — there are still plenty of options for you, too.
One of Greater Lansing’s staple burger restaurants is the Peanut Barrel in East Lansing. Owner and general manager Michael Krueger, who also owns and manages Crunchy’s, another East Lansing burger joint, described the eatery as “an old-school restaurant.”
There are many ways to make a burger, but according to Krueger, simplicity is key. When it comes down to it, the cook and the style really count.
“There are a lot of ways you can dress up a burger. With toppings, sauces or whatever,” said Tim Sorenson, the Peanut Barrel’s kitchen manager. “But the things that you really can’t cover up are how it’s cooked and a fresh bun.”
The Peanut Barrel has been in business for more than 40 years, staying consistent in its fresh, made-to-order ethos.
“We use hand-pattied Angus beef, and we cook it on a flat top.” Krueger said. “We use a company called Pizza Crust Co. for our bread. We offer wheat, rye and white bun options to customize your burger as well.”
Pizza Crust Co. may sound familiar. It’s a wholesale bakery based in Old Town, so you can ensure your bun is fresh when you eat at the Peanut Barrel.
If you’re more in the mood for fine dining, Cask and Co., near the Frandor Shopping Center, has a table for you.
“Elevated food for every mood is our slogan,” said Kurt Weaver, the restaurant’s director of operations.
On the menu, guests will find signature cocktails, sushi and shrimp tacos, but the burgers shine above all the rest.
“We use an 80-to-20 certified Angus blend for our burgers,” Weaver said. “Having the right thickness is important. You don’t want it so thick that it feels like you’re eating meatloaf, but you don’t want it so thin that all the juices run out.”
Weaver said Cask and Co.’s burgers are properly seasoned with the right amount of salt, pepper and garlic powder. He also discussed the importance of the grilling surface, but most important, he boasted the eatery’s buns.
“We use a brioche bun, which is made with a lot more butter than most buns, so it has a creamier, soft and squishy feel to it.”
In addition to Angus burgers, Cask and Co. offers a bison burger with a “super slaw.”
“It has a cucumber-wasabi mayonnaise mixed in with the coleslaw,” Weaver said.
Finally, if you’re looking for a trendier, all-vegan burger spot, VEG-N is your Lansing-area go-to.
Although meat is the main focus at most burger restaurants, VEG-N has a different perspective.
“Seasoning and love — and not dead animals,” said co-founder Christabelle Dozeman.
Dozeman described VEG-N’s menu as “plant-based, fast-casual American classics to try to get people comfortable with eating more plants in their day-to-day lives.”
The restaurant started out as a food truck in 2019 and then moved to a more permanent location on Cesar E. Chavez Avenue in early 2021. It opened up a drive-through, which helped it get through the COVID-19 pandemic, and it also offers dine-in and takeout.
If you’re wondering what kinds of burgers a vegan place serves, Dozeman has the answer.
“All of our burgers are kind of styled after what you would want to get at a regular restaurant, but we make it plant-based so you can experience the same flavors and still have a quality meal,” she said.
There are many benefits to choosing non-meat options, and VEG-N has you covered if you want to test it out.
“We don’t skimp on flavor, and there are none of the poor-health aspects for humans, the climate and animals that regular burgers have,” Dozeman said. “Try them out — you’d be surprised.”
When asked if she had any recommendations for people trying vegan food for the first time, Dozeman said, “If people are open-minded, there is really not any advice. If you’re just willing to come in and try something to begin with, that’s a good start.”
The next time you’re searching for a bite to eat around the Lansing area, don’t forget you can refine your palette at Cask and Co., stop in for a classic at the Peanut Barrel or try something new and beneficial for both your health and the health of the environment at VEG-N.
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