Disclaimer: This was a work-sponsored lunch and the burger might have suffered from the 20-second walk from the restaurant to my office.
For months, my colleagues and I were awaiting the opening of Pono Burger. A casual restaurant right next door from our office that was even closer than Bay Cities? Yes please. Well, Pono Burger finally opened on Wednesday and we ventured over on Thursday to order some burgers for our team lunch.
I had the Pono burger cooked a little pink inside with raclette cheese and avocado and some sweet potato fries. The burger itself was well put together, a good size, and best of all, stayed together till the last bite. The beef patty was hearty without being too greasy or overwhelming and was cooked to my liking. The cheese and avocado added to the richness of each bite and the lettuce was wonderfully green and crisp. The brioche bun was also great in that it didn’t disintegrate at the end, which is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to fancier burgers. I forgot to take note of the famed Pono sauce on the burger, but I guess it’s good that it didn’t overpower or distract from the burger experience. Overall, a very decent burger.
The sweet potato fries were cut thinly and met expectations. They were not as crunchy as I would have liked, but tasted healthier, so maybe that’s why.
To wash down my burger and fries, I also ordered a house-squeezed lemonade, which was a little too sweet for me. Later in the day, I stopped by for a salted caramel milkshake (ordered without the bacon bits) and it really hit the spot. The shake was so thick I had trouble drinking it from a straw. I liked that it wasn’t as sweet thanks to roasted flavor of the caramel and the little bit of salt.
My vegetarian colleague ordered the meatless burger, which was a large portabella mushroom instead of a meat patty. I kind of think they went the lazy route with that since anyone can stick a portabella on a grill and call it a burger. It’s too bad they didn’t expand their menu a little bit to add a house-made veggie patty.
Was Pono burger worth the wait? Yes. It’s going to be hard not ordering from that place all the time now.
Santa Monica, CA.