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The Impossible Burger is best known for "bleeding" like traditional meat.

The Chicago Tribune says it’s “possibly the best veggie burger you’ll try.” Vox calls it “the Tesla of food.” An alt-weekly in North Carolina says it will give you an “authentic hamburgasm,” whatever that means. And starting today—Friday, October 27—Portlanders can taste it for themselves at a half-dozen high-profile restaurants across the city for the foreseeable future, including Imperial and SuperBite.

We’re talking about the Impossible Burger, a futuristic vegan patty six years in the making. Funded (to the tune of $250 million) by venture capitalists and perfected by Silicon Valley food scientists, the Impossible Burger uses plant-based foods like wheat, potatoes, and coconut oil to create a substance that is said to smell, sizzle, taste, and, yes, bleed just like the beef patties of yore. The magic ingredient? Heme, an iron-rich molecule most commonly found in blood, which Impossible Foods sources from fermented yeast. 

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Said to require 75 percent less water and 95 percent less land than conventional beef, the environmentally friendly Impossible Burger first launched at New York City’s Momofuku Nishi in July 2016. Initially, reactions seemed largely positive from both vegans and omnivorous burger lovers. But in August, reports surfaced that one of the burger’s essential ingredients, soy leghemoglobin, had not been officially confirmed as safe and allergen-free by the Food and Drug Administration.

When an Impossible Burger spokesperson argued the company had tested the ingredient on rats, it only made matters worse—after all, ethical vegans oppose all animal testing. Impossible Foods released a statement emphasizing the “agonizing dilemma of animal testing” and stating that “the option that advances the greater good” supersedes “ideological purity.” But the incident ultimately emphasized what Impossible Foods has been saying all along: the burger is targeted towards mainstream eaters and environmentalists, not ethically motivated vegans. 

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Portland eateries now carrying the Impossible Burger include Jackrabbit, SuperBite, Irving Street Kitchen, and three Vitaly Paley spots: Imperial, Headwaters, and Paley’s Place. But, true to form, not a single one is serving it in a vegan-friendly manner, according to the PR firm representing Impossible Foods. Instead, the burgers are being topped with ingredients like gruyere and beer cheese sauce as well as eggy "Russian-aise" and yuzu kosho aioli. That's well and good, but an odd move for a town with such a deep, robust, vocal vegan scene.

"While the meat itself is technically vegan, the preparation at each restaurant (the bread, the cheese, you name it) rarely is, so we do not promote the Impossible Burger as a vegan dish," explains Sean Marier of Allison PR. However, Marier assures that there will be vegan options available upon request at each of the participating Portland restaurants. So, if you’re not bothered by details like FDA approval, animal testing, or the fact that your plant-based burger is bleeding, you can now try this controversial burger. Let us know how it goes. 

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Editor’s Pick

Paley's Place

$$$ Pacific Northwest 1204 NW 21st Ave

In 1995, Kimberly and Vitaly Paley bailed from New York’s restaurant world for Portland, where they invested in farmers, not décor, and helped jumpstart a ne...

Editor’s Pick

Headwaters

$$$ Seafood 1001 SW Broadway St.

The Heathman Hotel's nearly century-old dining room and bar received a seriously modern makeover in 2016. Even more impressive is the huge, ambitious, seafoo...

Irving Street Kitchen

$$$ New American 701 NW 13th St

Upon entering Irving Street Kitchen, you’ll first be faced with the bar, which is hooked up to 10 curved steel “taps” for their cask-to-tap wine system that ...

Jackrabbit

$$$ New American, Pacific Northwest 545 SW Taylor St.

Top Chef celeb chef Chris Cosentino’s first Portland operation is set in the ground floor the Duniway Hotel (formerly the Executive Tower). It's one part off...

SuperBite

$$$ Modern, New American 527 SW 12th Ave

Star chefs Greg Denton and Gabi Quiñónez Denton’s downtown dining room turns a spotlight on wild microplates.

Editor’s Pick

Imperial

$$$ New American 410 SW Broadway

At last, Vitaly Paley’s Imperial has found some swagger thanks to a surge of energy from newly promoted chef de cuisine Doug Adams, who emerged out of nowher...

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