Is This Outrageously Delicious Cheeseburger the Wave of the Future?

Where's the beef? Oh, it's in there, but this patty is more sophisticated than it might look.

The burger world is getting turned on its ear with the launch of LocoL, a new and thoughtful brand of quick-service restaurant from Top Chef Season 11 guest judge Roy Choi and renowned San Francisco chef Daniel Patterson. LocoL is currently open in Southern California only but has plans to go nationwide—and looks destined for major success if its cheeseburger is any indication.

With what they're calling the Cheeseburg, Choi and Patterson have figured out how to engineer a delicious burger that's both healthier and kinder to the Earth. How? Their version isn't made entirely of beef. In fact, the patty is a blend of beef, tofu, seaweed and sprouted grains, which combine to create to a slightly airier texture without altering the flavor. Most people, if they tasted it blindly, wouldn't guess that it's made with anything but beef.

Topped with gooey Jack cheese and a surprisingly flavorful scallion relish that will make you experience green onions in a whole new way, the burger is served on a toasted bun created by bread savant Chad Robertson of San Francisco's fabulous Tartine Bakery. It's a unique, memorable sandwich.

It's also one that will hopefully move the needle on eco-friendly dining. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it takes 150 gallons of water to produce just one quarter-pound hamburger. That's an environmentally unfriendly statistic for anywhere in the world, but especially so in drought-riddled California. Still, with any luck, LocoL will soon spread its tasty, chef-driven version of fast food—which includes everything from noodle bowls and chili to inventive egg breakfasts—well beyond the west coast.

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