The Butcher’s Son

1954 University Ave, Berkeley
(510) 984-0818

Recent Reviews

Matt Stefely

Slow service and my burger was charred black, the vegan cheese was barely recognizable as cheese because most of it looked like charcoal. The quality of other food items was decent though. The donuts were good.

Tara Mullen-Boustiha

The staff here is incredibly rude and they close 2 hours earlier than advertised due to ?running out of food?. I?m a bit confused how a restaurant, who?s sole purpose is to have food, runs out. At the very least, they could be cordial, however seems like manners are not part of their culture either. Do not recommend coming here unless you want to be chastised for being a customer.

Nick Y.

Wow! I totally found my new vegan brunch place. Please try the BLAT sandwich and the buffalo chicken sandwich! I would recommend going early because this place stays packed! Which is good of course but make sure you find a table so you won't have to stand or take it to go.

Eri S.

I wanted to like this place, and I may have ordered the wrong thing for me. That said, the pulled "pork" sando was way too sweet for my taste. I wished there was a lot more of the slaw instead of a tablespoon, I'd be happy to replace a good 1/3 of the bbq with. Liked it better with hot sauce so that the vinegar could balance. Another hint that maybe this is not the dish for me - I was the dork using fork and knife because I sadly lack the ability to eat sloppy sammies. Am possibly curious about other dishes, tho maybe the "meat" here might be... too... well, meaty for my taste? This may be one of those places that's geared to people who want to eat meat but are trying to not eat the real deal? Note, they had a line of maybe 12 people when i sauntered up mid afternoon on Saturday of a holiday week. I asked the cute woman in front of me and she confirmed there's always a wait but assured me it's worth it (note to self: don't go when already very hungry). Others kept showing up behind me and commenting that they also had expected less crowds... so not just this noob being surprised. Stand in line, order and pay at the counter. Take your drink and number with and hover to find a seat/perch inside, or outside in a little parklet out front or the deck out back if weather/your attire favors that. Staff were all sweet, but you do need to either yell loudly to be heard or wave your hand around a lot to get any attention. Also, maybe don't go to have any convo - the party of 3 next to me kept mishearing each other and it felt a little surreal to keep overhearing them because it was like they were having 3 different conversations.

Tomas Moreno

Amazing food. And it's all vegan?! Just be prepared for crazy lines. But well worth the wait

Liz M.

Been vegan for years and live in the Bay Area. Just found out about this place around Thanksgiving and was excited to try it. Ordered the Turkey Roast and a Shepherd's Pie for Christmas. It was surprisingly expensive for the size, $22 for the roast and $20 for the pie. They were both frozen. I cooked according to the instructions. The roast was not in fact stuffed as I thought it might be. It looked as pictured but the "skin" that is meant to be like crispy poultry skin was just kind of a rubbery thing. The taste was really bad, and I couldn't even finish one slice. My partner ate 2 slices even though it didn't taste great because he was so hungry. He just put a lot of gravy on it. And we both felt really sick the next morning with terrible headaches. We didn't eat anything unusual otherwise, don't drink and had veggies with it. We didn't and still don't truly know the cause of feeling that way, but after recovering, we tried the Shepherd's Pie the next day and felt similarly off afterward. The pie tasted good actually, although it had been frozen which isn't as good as fresh. Tried it once again the next day, and there was a consistent unease each of the three times. So it's not certain, but signs point toward our bodies rejecting this food. For special occasions in the past, I have had the Field Roast Celebration Roast, which is far tastier and makes us feel great. It's also $18 for a roast twice the size. We have eaten lots of "grain meat" in the past. There was a small heel left of the roast after just 3 slices, so it probably feeds 2-3 people. The Shepherd's Pie was 4 medium sized sections that needed something on the side. It cost $45 for the two, plus the cost to drive all the way to Berkeley. For $50 I was thoroughly disappointed and probably will never go to Butcher's Son again after this experience. I truly appreciate what a huge effort and loving act it is to create a vegan restaurant. In a world where so few people care about animals and the environment, it is no small thing. But in my own journey as a vegan, recovering from being raised in a culture/state that consumes a lot of meat and dairy, I gradually let go of the fake versions of meat as I dealt with the emotions around it. This time, it was about Christmas traditions and trying to recreate something that was never loving or good in the first place. Not only do fake "meats" lack the proper nutrition needed when replacing animal products in one's diet, but they don't confront the emotions that we each need to work through in order to heal this addiction and conditioning to believe that it is normal to kill animals, eat them and then form whole cultures and holidays around it. It is much better to eat whole foods, and adapt a diet more like the vegetarian diets of Indian, Ethiopian and Asian cuisine, full of lentils, whole grains and lots of vegetables, which provide plenty of protein and nutrients. In a way, although it is a loving intention to have a vegan restaurant, it is pandering to the addictions of meat eaters to create plant-based versions of meat dishes. For me, this helped me let go of it forever, and peel away another layer of sick European/American cultural conditioning from my soul. Perhaps the talented chefs of Butcher's Son are trying to create a first step kind of place for meat eaters, which is understandable, but these fake meats are not really ideal food for our bodies, and people generally feel better when they just eat the pure and healthy foods. I hope they will evolve toward a healthier option for their patrons. I appreciate the efforts of anyone offering vegan food and this place really is an incredible venture. Wishing them all the best in their business and hope we all continue to evolve in ridding our lives of eating animals. Attached photo of what's left of the roast, which I will sadly be throwing away.

Rachel M.

I so wanted to love this place!! It had been on my list for the longest time and some of my vegan friends rave about it. My bf is vegan and we thought it would be a regular place we could frequent together. Finally made it with my bf and coworkers for a pre-holiday lunch. Make sure to go to the newer location across the street from the old one on University. We arrived around 11a on a Saturday and looked like it was filling up. There is a market to the left and the dining area on the right. You order at the front first, get a # and grab a table. We decided to get a variety of sandwiches- cold cuts with all meats, jalapeño business, beyond mozzarella, steak and eggs, a cannoli and a donut-stuffed pancake. The cannoli and donut were ok- the cashew-based ricotta really emulated ricotta and the donut pancake was what you would expect. Like some of the other reviews, I and the rest of my table agreed that the "meats" were very salty and over seasoned. I took a few bites of my Beyond Mozzarella and, while I appreciated the effort, I just didn't like the textures and the overall flavors. The concept and execution is well intentioned and it works for a lot of others, but it just wasn't for me. However, my vegan bf did get inspired to make his own homemade seitan and he said he wouldn't mind returning. I, on the other hand, am on the fence.

Gibson Strickland

This place is excellent and broad, the meals was delicious and the prices were very reasonable. quickly, efficient service and very personal staff members. Recommended.

Sophie Werrin

Despite the name of this place and menu items such as mozzarella and meatballs or steak banh mi, this place is vegan. I decided to give it a try, ordering the Hot Garlic Lemon Chicken sandwich ($14) and a slice of blackberry cheesecake ($4.50).

Aileen Lawlor

Glorified vegan junk food! I can't say if it is actually healthy (outside of the "Something Healthy" salad), but these dishes are very satisfying, and if you want to take a meat-eater to a vegan spot where they'll be satiated this is the place. I was so impressed with the vegan cheese on the salad (reminiscent of feta) and the Jalapeño Business sandwich which tastes like a spicy steak and cheese. I loved the panko squash and ricotta sandwich too. Surprisingly filling, savory, & full of flavor.

Lisa M.

So good. Outrageously good. The brunch menu is a true delight. The best pancakes ever, vegan or no. Get the doughnut stuffed jelly filled variety are least once. You will never be the same. #thisismyaddiction is an incredible breakfast sandwich- cheesy and packed with avocado. The steak and egg sandwich is covered in creamy cheddar with thin cut moist steak on a soft hoagie roll. The bacon macaroni salad is creamy, salty, fight for the last bite mind blowing. Vegan cannolis? Shut the front door. The line can get long. Totally worth it.

Zahki Boodhek

incredible. outstanding. one hundred percent legit. ... too bad saturn closed but this place will do.

Seema K.

If you are someone who has adopted veganism but yearns for the texture of meat then this place is for you. I purposely did not say taste of meat because that is a stretch after tasting the food. That said, the entrees we did have are immensely tasty and very filling. Seating inside is not a lot but they do have an outside patio with three tables. Ordering food is not at the table - you line up, order at the cashier, and the food comes out to you. Staff are around but minimal and you rely on self for service. So onto the food. We ordered a couple of items and shared the food. My favorite was the fried chicken sandwich. Does it taste like a fried chicken? No but it does have a crispy texture and lots of spicy sauce that drenched the patty. Messy but very satisfying in a spicy, crispy bite manner. The steak sandwich was the same story with pretty believable texture of steak but not taste. That said it was tasty on its own. The disappointment was the meatball sandwich. The texture of the meatball was far too dense to make it anything similar to a real meatball. But their vegan mozzarella definitely comes a lot closer to the real deal. So in general you get really great tasting food that is a hit or miss from the real meats they are trying to imitate but the variety and ingenuity of the establishment in coming up with this successful idea is definitely commendable.

Mark Urquhart

I like this place because of their 'impossible burger' with all vegan components, including the best fake bacon ('Facon'?) I have tried. Tastes just like a (very good) meaty burger. You can also buy the facon at the shop.

Jason Bodenheimer

I'm pretty happy with this place. Innovative food that satisfies any meat eater or meat eater turning vegan. My only complaint: in the heart of Berkeley, with a son that has a wheat allergy, I would expect that the staff would know their menu inside and out. If I order an item on your menu and ask for it with a gluten free option, I kind of expect that you'd know the vegan bacon has wheat gluten as its first ingredient. Asking for gluten free should trigger a response of "are you gluten free as a preference or because of an allergy or dietary restriction?" Your customers shouldnt have to ask additional staff once food is received if items within your gluten free option actually has gluten in it. I'm glad I double checked so I could take the bacon off my kid's burger. He would've broken out in hives for days. Don't let my rant deter you, it's intended for the proprietors to read this and retrain their staff. ;) The food is brilliant.

Molly E.

I was so thankful I had the opportunity to try this place while I was in town! They close early on several days so make sure to plan accordingly. They are also almost always very busy so give yourself time to wait and dine. My friend and I shared the meatball sub and the cold cut sandwich with the lemon garlic chicken and we loved both of them! They also have a TON of dessert options and every one I tried was incredible. I tried the chocolate chip cannoli, cookie, blueberry cheesecake, rocky road bar, and cherry cheesecake. The rocky road bar was shockingly my favorite (I usually don't love things with marshmallows in it), followed by the cheesecakes. Highly highly recommend!

Chloe B.

Definitely super exciting about an all vegan restaurant. I went to their old place and was super excited about their expansion. I love how much variety they have on their menu. I also like how they have to go cases. Yes, it can be crowded at times on the weekend and the lines can be long. Pricey, bur hefty portions. I'll be back!

Alexandria N. Fall

I went with a group of people and we tried approximately 10 million different things on the menu and everything was amazing. The bacon, butter, and eggs were surprisingly realistic and they?ll make a pancake for you with a donut stuffed in the middle! It sounds ridiculous but it?s absolutely amazing and I love that this restaurant is 100% cruelty free as well. I was visiting from LA and was really happy I came!

Donny Smoke-Adolph

This place is incredible. All vegan or vegetarian meals. Mostly sandwiches so great for lunch. The sauces make all the difference on the sandwiches and the sides are very tasty.

Stylishshopper ..

Start your car, bike or roller skates and get yourself to Butcher's son as soon as possible!!! Also, grab some vegan friends AND some meat eating friends to PROVE to them that you simply don't have to end a life to have a SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS, COMPLETELY GRUBBY and FILLING grilled steak hoagie sandwich, OR chicken, or BLT or meatball sub. Honestly, as a dedicated vegetarian for 30 years (mostly vegan, 95%) I wasn't too sure if I would even like the steak sandwich. Wow, wow, wow, wow. The fried mozzarella was incredible too. The meatball sandwich, incredible. The sides, macaroni salad and potato salad, you guessed it, INCREDIBLE. Be prepared for a line and reasonable wait, so come just before you are super hungry, this place is popular for a reason. Vegan cookie dough tubs, vegan cookies, vegan donuts...... I'm from veggie paradise Portland and I am a bit hard to impress..... BRAVO Butcher's Son!!!!

Sophie W.

Despite the name of this place and menu items such as mozzarella and meatballs or steak banh mi, this place is vegan. I decided to give it a try, ordering the Hot Garlic Lemon Chicken sandwich ($14) and a slice of blackberry cheesecake ($4.50). The prices are definitely a bit high, but the food is good. The "chicken" in the sandwich is obviously not chicken, but it does take on a bit of charred smokiness that grilled meat has. With the avocado and tomatoes, sandwiched between two thick pieces of sourdough, it was a tasty lunch option. It also came with a scoop of potato salad, which is what we chose for our side. This was also my first time trying vegan cheesecake, and it was pretty amazing how blended cashews could taste so much like cream cheese. The center of the cheesecake is definitely mushier and less firm than a typical cheesecake, but the flavor is there. We shared the sandwich and cheesecake between the two of us, and it was the perfect size. An entire sandwich would have been too much. Also, the wait for food was pretty long; we waited for at least 20 minutes after ordering, if not 30. There's seating inside, in the back patio and outside in the front.

Nineveh R.

One of the best vegan joints I've been to!!! WOW. Was up North for just the weekend and we came here TWICE. It was that good!!! The first time we came for lunch and I got the jalapeño business sandwich. If you love spice this is the sandwich for you! That baby was HOT and I loved every bite. Everyone in my family got something different and everything I tried was great. They even have vegan cannolis!! We got one of each that they had and I'm not a cannoli expert (since I normally can't have them) but we all thought they were yummy. The second time we came for the weekend brunch. Again, I was impressed! I got the steak and egg hoagie which was solid. My sister got an awesome bagel sandwich, also solid. However, the best thing I tried was what my other sister got.... a PANCAKE that had a DONUT cooked into it--which is every 8 year olds dream btw--and although it sounded a bit ridiculous... it was SO GOOD lol. I enjoyed the 2 measly bites she allowed me to have... it was too good she didn't want to share. I didn't blame her! The only thing that bums me out is that I'm all the way in LA and will have to wait a good while to come here again. If this place was in driving distance I'd be here regularly! Can't wait to come back and try out more of their menu!


Their food is SO good!!!!! Even my friend who is not vegan really enjoyed her meal! HIGHLY suggest coming here! Little pricy, but you definitely get what you pay for here in excellent quality foods!

Gloria T.

The Butcher's Son is delicious and well worth the wait in my opinion (we didn't even wait long). My sister and our friends took Bart to downtown Berkeley and walked over to have "Brunch". The folks aren't overly friendly (standard for vegan spots in the bay) but the food is really good. While they're pricey, their portions are huge! We ordered: #ThisIsMyAddiction - Served on a Toasted Garlic Buttered Ciabatta with Bacon, Scrambled Egg, Grilled Mozzarella and Avocado Jalapeño Business - Served on a Soft Hoagie with Seasoned Steak, Cashew Pepper Jack Cheese, Double Bacon, Fresh & Pickled Jalapeño, Sriracha Mayo Cold Cut - Served on a French Roll with Lettuce, Tomato, Pickles Chips, Red Onion, Cheddar Cheese, Salt & Pepper, Oil & Vinegar, Dijon Mustard & Mayo Mozz Sticks, Donuts, Cheesecake, and Matcha Oat Latte's (not worth the $5). Oh, and a salad, because balance. We enjoyed all of our food and would absolutely go back again!

Molly L.

I am overall thoroughly unimpressed by the service and the food here. I'm not sure what all the rage is about. First off, my to-go order took 40 minutes to get to me. 30 minutes into waiting, I finally asked if someone could check up on my food. Even though I was cleary sitting there waiting for my food no one ever bothered to ask me anything about why I was waiting. The lady comes back 5 minutes later and apologized saying that my order for some reason was not put in. She said it was a computer glitch and that she'd get my food and give me a refund (but she never did). She then came back with the food and says "oh someone gave you the wrong number that's why you never got the sandwich and then walked away as if her promise for a refund no longer mattered because it was not the computer's fault. Someone still gave me the wrong number and she never bothered to ask me about my order even though I was sitting there for 40 minutes and I saw her asking all these other folks about an order and she was just ignoring me the whole time. As for the food, it was sub-par. I ordered the garlic chicken pesto sandwich and it was too salty and looked and tasted fake. I am so disappointed with this place and the fact that I spent over $14 plus tip (that they didn't even deserve but the cashier looked at me while I was on the tip page, which is unprofessional). I won't be back and I'm not sure why people would line up to eat here or bother with this ridiculous server.

Z U.

This was my first time at the butchers son, it was really hyped up by my partner so I was super excited to try it ! I'm vegan and have been craving fried chicken so as soon as I saw it was an option on the menu I was dying to try it !!! We ordered - BLAT (with a burger bun instead of sourdough) Jalapeño business Fried mozzarella The blat was okay, the chicken was nice and crispity crunchity but bland and had a planty after taste. If I tasted anything it was just the avocado, everything else was bland (You can get better vegan chicken at the store like 365 brand or gardein) :^( 4/10 The Jalapeño business was amazing !! So rich and buttery, definitely not for the feint of heart ! Not too spicy just right !! 8/10 Fried mozzarella THIS WAS THE BEST THING IVE EVER EXPERIENCED it didn't stretch like normal mozzarella sticks but it was so gooey and cheesy, it's definitely better than what I'd remember even regular mozzarella sticks to taste like !! I have no clue how cheesy and oozieducie it was ?! 10/10 overall the workers n the outdoor seating were great ! The food was also very good despite the blat being ultra bland. Also don't come here if you're looking for health food the food is really rich and somewhat greasy but not in a bad way !! Totally comforting and delicious 8.5/10 would definitely come here again

Jim L.

I was disappointed in this place. I really thought I'd love it. Tuna melt was cold and oily, flavor was tangy and not right. The fried buffalo mozzarella cheese appetizer was unimpressive. I will say, the Cesar Salad was quite good but very salty. Lastly, I used the bathroom when I first got there, but there was no hand soap. I told an employee. After my lunch I used the bathroom again, and there was still no soap. I told another employee and he seemed to already know, but resigned to the fact - oh well - just no soap. Perhaps they were simply out of soap and didn't think it was important enough to send someone to buy some immediately.

Nhung N.

pretty good, a little heavy. Great veggie/vegan restaurant. They have a large variety of options so the is always nice. large portions - very filling. The location itself is also quite nice. They have a nice back patio area.

Lydia Z.

Yall I am sorry but this place really was not it for me. I am all for the vision (plant based & tasty & flavorpacked) but the steak and egg hoagie was quite heavy and heartburn inducing. My SO got the fried bagelwich which was not too bad but it was also quite heavy and did not sit too well. We both felt that the nonvegan equivalent had never made us feel so grody afterwards. Perhaps it was the heavily processed beancurds/tofu or the fake nacho cheese? Unsure but we were quite disappointed. The "steak" was very similar to the 99ranch sweet beancurd slices I'd do stirfry with and that association made the hoagie seemingly less authentic/innovative. All in all, felt like very processed foods, limited actual plant/whole food options, and heartburn + brain fog afterwards. :(

Thom P.

Hip hop music is horrible and agressive. Not "cruelty free" for my ears. Also serving tap water to customers. Awesome food tho!

Mikey W.

Came here upon a friends recommendation and was very impressed. The food was great and well thought out. The portions were large and even though I'm not veg I loved it all. Had a iced coffee and tasted some of someone's donut and it was all great. Only issue I had was with the service. Everyone was very curt and rushed, though they were to the point and knowledgeable I prefer a bit of service. My wife has food allergies and I had asked some questions about the specific ingredients and the server pointed to a sign that says everything is cross contaminated then she wouldn't even give specifics. Put a bad taste in my mouth in an otherwise excellent experience.

Kao S.

After many years and countless tries I've finally made it here. Yeah I know it's so close to home but that's how it is when that happens. It's Sunday at 4pm and service is fast, ordered and received our food in 10 minutes. Nice open dining area with plenty more tables in the back patio. Seems like they have expanded to a bigger location from what I heard as now they have a little retail area also. Items ordered below: Bacon Cheeseburger: Phill Steak and Cheese: Grilled Cheese: Rhubarb Pie And a Cider: IMO everything is fairly priced and the portions are generous. Great flavor and prepared well. Location is right on University Ave and plenty of metered street parking. I definitely am trying to make it back here to try all the other items on the menu. If you're vegan, this place is a must and you gotta come and eat here.

Christopher Hann-Soden

Truly excellent vegan sandwiches. This place doesn't do "healthy" vegan food that's all fiber and no calories. They make delicious, greasy, sandwiches you can sink your teeth into. I once ordered a cheeseburger using a vegan donut for the bun; I would highly recommend it, but maybe hold the onions.

Taryn R.

Absolutely delicious in all possible ways! If you are vegan, or not, you should try this spot for any meal! It won't disappoint. We came early, before the rush- and luckily we did bc the line got long, extremely quick. We ordered, grabbed a seat and waited. Food came out quick and staff was friendly. I ordered the BLAT, my husband ordered the #thisismyaddiction, and started with the mozzarella sticks, and fished with and packed up to go, two cannolis and a piece of cheese cake. The food was amazing, the mozzarella sticks are a must! As well as the desserts. The sandwiches were amazing and would definitely order again, but would love to try other menu options!

Julie Gagnon Âû

This place is amazing! I love their lemon chicken, their mimosas, and their desserts. The bacon looks and tastes like regular meat. I wish I could come here every day, we have great vegan restaurants in Phoenix but nothing like this!

Tyler B.

Not sure why a vegan places feel the need to call everything beef or chicken or pork when its not, im okay with not having meat in my meal just tell me what im actually eating. Also. we have been waiting over 40mins to get our food, it a Friday during lunch how long of a lunch break do people have, please find a way to bring food out faster. When the food arrived it was lukewarm. I got the bbq pulled "pork" sandwich. The bbq part was good amd what I was hoping for. However because they call it pork I am forced to compare it to actual pork and compared to actual pork the "meat" was very dry and flakey, not tender and juicy like I would expect from a pulled pork sandwich. If I ignored that It was supposed to taste like pork then it was actually quite good. The person I was with got the "tuna" melt. She said it was also unsatisfying and actually made her stomach hurt afterwards.

Deyanara L.

Finally ventured out to The Butchers Son after seeing the review on Bay Area Eats. I must say, it was frustrating getting there. Berkeley drivers must be really enjoying their "goods" to be bad drivers. Not to mention that parking sucks in that area. As expected, their was a medium sized line to order the food but it was moving fairly quickly. This was due in part of the very rushed cashier. I get it, she was trying to get through each order quickly, but she didn't look up once to confirm anything. Lets just say, good customer service isn't what you come here for. My BF and I ordered the Killer BLTA, the Pulled Pork Sandwich, a slice of Cherry Cheesecake and 2 Chocolate Chip cookies. Unfortunately, we wandered around the patio and inside dining area for a few minutes trying to find an open table. Nada. It was busy and crowded. Luckily, a table cleared up in the patio after a few minutes of waiting and we took a seat. Then....we waited. And waited. And waited. I want to say it took about 20 minutes to get our food. Again, I get it..they were very busy. The food was pleasing to the eye but I did notice that the portion of the size is tiny. Half a cup at its best. My BLTA was good. The chicken was soft but lacked flavor. The bacon was the star of the show, however. My sourdough bread was lightly toasted but the juices form the tomatoes and chicken made it soggy, which ended up with my sandwich falling apart. My boyfriend thought the Pulled Pork sandwich was just okay. He mentioned it had good flavor but the consistency was off, calling it "too rubbery." The sides were good. My potato salad was light and lightly salted, and his macaroni salad was pleasant as well. We indulged in the cherry cheesecake while there and I can honestly say, it didn't taste vegan at all. Although it was bit softer than regular cheesecake, it was delicious! Would I make another stop here again? Probably not. Due to the location and how crowded it is, it's definitely made for locals that can walk there and/or pick up their food to go. I'm glad I experienced it, but won't be coming back.

Sasha T.

Be still, my heart: this joint looks just like a quintessential East Coast deli, but everything they serve up is 100% vegan. We had the Caesar Salad, Steak Banh Mi, BBQ Pulled Pork, and a Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie. The Caesar Salad was LEGIT! The BBQ Pulled Pork was deliciously flavored and we'd totally order it again. The Steak Banh Mi was good and spicy, but it was a bit too salty for my personal liking. That said, everything was just delicious.

Alyssa Jarvis

I had a salad and split a cookie with a friend. We both left feeling full and satisfied. The food was so yummy and worth every penny.

Grace Cadej

Amazing! My family visited Berkeley for three days and found The Butcher's Son just down the street from our motel. We're all some form of veg*n, so we dropped in. On the first visit I tried the #ThisIsMyAddiction, a delicious and filling breakfast sandwich. The bacon on it was shockingly good and I came closer to enjoying "real" bacon than I've been since I stopped eating meat 26 years ago.