New Kid on the Block: Lekka Burger

It’s been two years in the making, but the vegetarian’s answer to Shake Shack has arrived on Warren Street, opening today to the public. Lekka Burger is the brainchild of South African Andrea Kerzner, whose fascinating family history comes with some serious credentials in the hospitality business (Sun City, Atlantis, Mohegan Sun, to name a few) and the talentchild of Amanda Cohen, the veggie chef from the adored LES restaurant Dirt Candy.

When the UN released its first report about the connections between eating meat and climate change (it has since released many), Andrea, who also has a background in non-profits, wanted to combine her hospitality legacy with a climate change mission, or as she said in South African, “I said to myself, let me give it a bash.” (By coincidence, that’s my friend Peter Twyman who runs Yamba Malawi, posing with Andrea; they are friends from their work running African charities.)

So she cold-called Cohen, who asked for some time to think about it. She texted the next day. The two have since created an all-vegetarian, all-compostable menu model that still tries to have some fun with the concept – the place isn’t preachy.

“The whole idea is how can we come up with the best plant-based burger that tastes good not just ot vegans but to people who are maybe trying to cut back on meat,” said Andrea. And I will tell you, whatever they are doing in the kitchen, they are doing something right: the place smelled delicious, and, well, like a burger joint.

The service set up is Shake-Shack-esque, with an order counter and buzzers, but the feel is more like a restaurant with a lively bar and the ultimate score of the 10-person table in the window (there will be a race from the fields on Friday nights for this one). Andrea wanted it to feel like an old-fashioned diner, where you come grab a shake and a burger, but thankfully there is none of that vinyl and penny-tile aesthetic. It’s much warmer and much cooler, if you know what I mean. (The wonderful mural is by Argentinian street artist Magda Love, who did part of the wall on Hudson and Clarkson at City As School.)

As for the burger, I ate it without the bun, and it was crumbly but super flavorful, described by Grubstreet as a “reincarnation of an ancient Chinese recipe for yuguanfei, a mock meat shaped like a fruitcake, stained red from cultured rice, gelled with mung-bean starch, marbled with bits of fried cruller to mimic fat, and steamed.” There’s a clever cocktail menu designed by Dirt Candy’s Michael Cherry, vegan shakes, several salads including a broccolini Caesar. The fries are crinkle cut.

The pair has gone the extra mile in the concept: there is no consumer trash. Everything sold is either composted or recycled. The wines are vegan, the lighting is LED and the sodas are sugar-free. And all the profits on the merch will go to GrowNYC.

They want the restaurant to appeal to young families, but wanted the foot traffic of Warren Street for their flagship (there will be more) location. And we have already won Andrea over. She is looking for an apartment in Tribeca.

Lekka Burger
81 Warren Street (West Broadway and Greenwich)
Monday – Saturday: 11a – 10p
Sunday: 11a to 9p



  1. Curious if there are any vegan choices

  2. This is great news! Can’t wait to check out the burgers and will do so this week! Welcome.