When it comes to fast food, with the likes of McDonald’s, KFC, Dominos, Hungry Jacks, and Carls Jr dotting the landscape, we are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to grabbing that cheat day fix.
Well, you can add another choice to that fecund list, however, this new kid on the block is fast food with a twist.
That’s right, Vego’s Vegetarian Fast Food has thrown open its doors on the corner of Beaumont Street and Maitland Road in Islington, promising an array of plant-based fare served in true fast-food style – quick and convenient.
At its heart, Vego’s is all about the burgers.
“Vego’s is a bit of a unique proposition, particularly for Newcastle, but at its core, it’s vegetarian fast food.,” owner-operator Mark Hughes, who runs Vego’s with wife Julie, told Newcastle Live.
Mark added that the idea had been percolating for decades, but the time never seemed right. Until now.
“I had this idea, maybe 15 or 20 years ago, because a lot of cultures have really great vego fast food, street food culture and my background is in the food and wine media industry so I was always coming across these great recipes,” he explained.
“When I first had the idea, the products weren’t really there. The burger patties weren’t developed enough but in the last five years that has really changed a lot with patties that look, taste and feel like a real burger.”
The menu offers six core varieties – a Cheeseburger, a ‘Chick’n burger with lettuce and mayo, a larger version of the chicken iteration dubbed the Finger Lickin’ Good Burger, The Big V Burger (a works-sized cheeseburger), a halloumi burger and the most intriguing entry, a pulled jackfruit burger with a southern style slaw.
“And that’s the idea,” Mark said. “There are that old sort of mushy burger patties made up of potatoes peas and corn and they taste pretty good, but if you’re a general burger lover, you want a burger to taste like a real burger – these burgers do.”
But it’s not all about the burgers with Vego’s offering fries, spinach and feta gozleme, gluten-free arancini, halloumi fingers and, of course, fries with a secret seasoning.
Vego’s will also offer a range of breakfast offerings including coffee from Sprocket, a breakfast muffin, banana bread, churros and what is sure to be one of the menu’s highlights, house-made corn bread (made to Julie’s secret recipe) served with either cinnamon sugar or chili butter (honestly we were lucky enough to sample this and it was truly next level).
Mark said that the intention was to see the menu evolve organically, adding new items here and there to test the market, and giving customers the chance to have their say on the direction of the eatery.
For instance, in December we’re planning to have a Mexican month and we’ll put a ‘Phish’ taco on the menu,” he said.
“And with the specials, people can come in and vote online on our Facebook and if they sell and people like them we’ll keep them on the menu. So the people of Newcastle are involved in Vego’s as much as we are.”
While Mark said he was under no illusion that the food coming out of the Vego’s kitchen is “super healthy” (hey, it is fast food) the aim of Vego’s was also to promote gut health.
“We are not purporting to be super healthy but what we are doing is making your gut healthier.,” he said. “The fact is Oz has the highest rate of bowel cancer in the world and doctors universally agree its because we have too much meat in our diet.
“A vegetarian or plant-based diet allows yr bowels to relax a little bit. While it’s great to be vego, and hats off to anyone who is vegan, Vego’s is not just for those people – its for everybody who goes: “I just want to have a bit more plant-based food in my diet.
“So instead of going to the pub on a Friday night for a schnitty with the boys, come to Vego’s and have a big V burger fries and a Coke – it costs about the same – and on Saturday morning your bowels will thank you for it.”
Vego’s Vegetarian Fast Food is located on the corner of Beaumont Street and Maitland Road, Islington.