Santa Monica's R+D Kitchen already serves up a seriously tasty beef burger, yet it's the simple veggie burger that steals the spotlight. Made from a mix of lightly toasted brown rice, mushrooms for depth and nutty almonds for crunch and a bit of forward flavor, plus some sautéed vegetables, the patty is tender, juicy and wonderfully caramelized at the edges. Served dripping with melted jack cheese and a side of invitingly vibrant toppings, the veggie burger from R+D Kitchen is a straightforward example of elevated vegetarian cooking. When everything squeezes together within the eggy sesame-seed bun, meat eaters may actually feel jealous — and that certainly doesn't happen often. 1323 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (310) 395-3314, —Farley Elliott

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