Impossible Meets Its Moment

Tamara Palmer
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Photo by Wes Rowe

Wes Rowe used to spend hours upon hours each week handcrafting his own veggie burgers for his customers at WesBurger, his popular restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. He felt that making his own was the only way to go, until he discovered that Impossible Foods’ faux ground meat, a product created by a startup in nearby Silicon Valley, yields delicious results if you know how to finesse it properly.

“I’d been playing with it for a couple months trying to figure out how to make it work in my workflow and be really consistent,” he told DoorDash. “There are a lot of ways to cook those burgers and they taste very different depending on how you cook it. That was one of the reasons I was hesitant at first. It’s a lot less labor intensive for us to have the Impossible Burger on the menu versus this thing that we’re spending eight to 10 hours a week prepping. Making these veggie burgers, they’re really good, so for me it can’t just be easier; the product has to end up being better. So it took awhile for me to feel comfortable getting to that point.”

Impossible Foods’ mission is to create an environmentally kind and efficient product that doesn’t sacrifice flavor. No animals are harmed or killed in making this “meat,” which is comprised of ingredients including coconut fat, wheat protein, potatoes and heme, a nonprotein that imparts a juicy flavor. Production takes just 25% of the water and 5% of the land that a regular beef burger requires to make.

Impossible Foods made its debut in 2016, first appearing on the menu at David Chang’s popular New York City restaurant Momofuku Nishi, at vegan chef Tal Ronnen’s celeb-spotting Crossroads in Los Angeles, at San Francisco restaurants Cockscomb (operated by Top Chef Masters winner Chris Cosentino) and at the now-closed Jardinière. Most chefs began serving the product as an Impossible Burger. A few years later, it’s still the most popular use of the “meat” (and has even been embraced by fast food giant Burger King), but the versatile product has been starting to pop up on menus in other forms, including breakfast sandwiches and sausage.

In 2019, Impossible Foods started selling its groundbreaking product in select grocery stores in Southern California, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and North Carolina; according to the company website, Impossible hopes its “raw” product will be in refrigerators nationwide over the coming months. For many home cooks, it could signify the future of getting their households to reduce the consumption of actual meat for the health of their bodies and the planet.

Rowe has gotten positive feedback on his Impossible Burger, which he offers in four styles: vegan (with no cheese), All-American (with Hooray Foods’ vegan bacon), PB&J (yes, that’s peanut butter and jelly, and it’s fabulous) and his signature Hot Wes, which is topped with onion rings, queso and pickled jalapenos.


“We’ve got it kind of locked in,” Rowe noted. “We cook it on a separate surface [from the beef]. We actually cook it on a panini press, but one that’s flat and doesn’t have the grill lines in it so it’s cooking on both sides and it cooks really fast. We cook it in 60 seconds. [This technique] allows it to still be a little bit pink in the middle — that way, all the fat is not rendered out, that’s where all the flavor is. It’s been going really well, people really like it.”


“We’ve got it kind of locked in...We cook it in 60 seconds. It allows it to still be a little bit pink in the middle — that way, all the fat is not rendered out, that’s where all the flavor is. It’s been going really well, people really like it.”

- Wes Rowe, WesBurger

One warning to diners looking to try Impossible items for the first time — the meat taste can be so realistic that it can be a bit of a shock for some vegans and vegetarians who haven’t had the real thing in a long time, so ordering your food well done is something to consider in a case like that. On the other hand, that convincing taste might be enough for carnivores to reconsider their overall meat intake.

Impossible menu items such as the Impossible Burger are available to order from a wide array of restaurants in 20 DoorDash markets in the United States. They’re easy to find and discover, too; just look for them in the custom cuisine carousels labeled Impossible!


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Here are some spots in San Francisco to find the Impossible:

Wesburger

Mission, SF

Two 4oz grass-fed burger patties on a bed of sizzling rice and kimchee. Topped with two sunny side up organic eggs and our famous dashi gravy.

The Melt

Financial District, SF

Our signature MeltBurger made with a plant-based patty that looks, smells & tastes just like beef! The Impossible patty is chopped, grilled and filled with loads of melted cheddar, jalapeño & pickle mix (not too spicy, we promise) and Melt sauce on a toasted, artisan bun.

Umami Burger

Mission Bay, SF

Two impossible patties, grilled onions, vegan American cheese, miso-mustard, 'ooh-mami' sauce, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato. Impossible patties are 100% plant based and cooked through.

Burger King

Downtown, SF

Our Impossible™ WHOPPER® Sandwich features a savory flame-grilled patty made from plants topped with juicy tomatoes, fresh lettuce, creamy mayonnaise, ketchup, crunchy pickles, and sliced white onions on a soft sesame seed bun. 100% WHOPPER®, 0% Beef.

Fire & Brew

Fisherman’s Wharf, SF

Vegetarian. 100% Plant based burger patty, butter lettuce, tomato, red onions, house-made pickles, tomato aioli.

Here are some spots in East Bay to find the Impossible:

Umami Burger

Waverly, Oakland

One of the very first restaurants to carry the Impossible Burger in all of the country, Umami Burger doesn’t just offer one type of Impossible burger; it offers a whole menu of them.

A+ Burger

Fairview Park, Oakland

If you want a burger dragged through the garden, this one—packed with generous amounts of lettuce, onion, and tomato—is for you.

The Athletic Club Oakland

Waverly, Oakland

This entire burger, from the bun to the Impossible patty, is vegan.

Taps and Takeout

Montclair, Oakland

Pair an Impossible burger order at this fast-casual spot with a craft beer like the cream soda-inspired Mother Earth Cali Creamin Ale.

CAÑA

Lakeshore, Oakland

OK, so it’s not exactly a burger, but you can try Impossible Foods’ ground “beef” in a Cuban-inspired empanada with manzanilla olives and raisins.

Here are some spots in South Bay to find the Impossible:

The Counter Custom Burgers

West San Jose

Get creative and tap into the endless possibilities offered to customize your Impossible Burger.

The Funny Farm

Santa Teresa, San Jose

Pair your Beyond Burger with one of Canada’s best fry contributions, poutine.

Birk's Restaurant

Santa Clara

Topped with a fennel aioli, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, portobello mushrooms and a side of sweet potato fries – who says you can be fancy with your burger.

Konjoe Burger Bar

Santa Clara

A champion of supporting local artisans, enjoy this Impossible Burger with locally-sourced, vegan ingredients.

Water Tower Kitchen

Central Campbell

Share your Meatless Mondays with this classy bar and their Impossible Burger served with goat cheese and garlic aioli.

Here are some spots in the Peninsula to find the Impossible:

The Cheesecake Factory

Northeast Hillsdale, San Mateo

Their Impossible Burger is cow-free with a plant-based patty and melted vegan cheese.

Mendocino Farms

University South, Palo Alto

This famed sandwich shop features two kinds of plant-based meat. Plant-based chorizo in their Impossible Taco Salad and Impossible patty in their Impossible Burger Queen.

Dog Haus Biergarten

Downtown, Belmont

Menu features four plant-based versions of burger and dog classics. Impossible burger patties for their burger and slider. Beyond sausage for their bratwurst and veggie hot-italian.

Redwood Grill

Woodside Plaza, Redwood City

Redwood City comfort food spot rounds our their meals, including the Impossible Burger with a side. Open daily except for Mondays.

Gott's Roadside

University South, Palo Alto

Longtime NorCal burger joint has fully embraced Impossible Burger. You can get your burger, cheeseburger, or bacon cheeseburger with the plant-based Impossible burger.

Check out other restaurants that serve the Impossible

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