Pono Burger brings the healthy goods to a new location on Rose Avenue in Venice, complete with landscaped outdoor patio and full bar. Organic, grass-fed burgers never tasted so good!
Not long ago, I wondered if we needed another burger joint when Bareburger opened on Main Street. After eating there, I concluded that, yeah, these guys are delivering quality ingredients in a casual setting for a decent price, so I decided that they can stay. Then just a few blocks away, a few months later, Pono Burger opened a new restaurant on Rose Avenue in Venice. I rolled my eyes and asked once again, do we need this burger spot too?
Pono has been around for a little while with another bustling location on Broadway in Santa Monica, and an even more recently opened location in West Hollywood. The Chef, Makani Gerardi, hails from Hawaii where "pono" means "to do things the right way," and she aims to deliver on that promise with everything she serves. Nothing is frozen, the beef is organic and pasture raised with grass-fed cows. And of course the fruit and vegetables are organically purchased from local farmer's markets.
Pono works with select farms like Eel River in Humboldt, which is a family-fun ranch with big green pastures, and no hormone or antibiotic use on the farm. They also work with other notable CA names like Straus Family Creamery, Niman Ranch and Andrew's Cheese Shop. I'm always a fan of working with quality, local purveyors, but I needed to see how things tasted.
Pono Burger took over the old Hostaria del Piccolo space on Rose Avenue, and all I can say is, man, it's amazing what a little greenery can do. Pono fully landscaped the outdoor patio with tons of trellises of flowering plants, and made it a lovely place to spend a warm Los Angeles afternoon or evening.
So of course there's a range of great looking burgers, build your own's, and even a seasonal menu using whatever is fresh. You might find the Sassy Wahine on the seasonal selection with housemade wasabi, pickled ginger, organic avocado, pea shoots and homemade sesame ponzu dressing. Pono's Chef Gerardi even recommends beer selections with these burgers so you can have the perfect combination.
I went with a tasty turkey burger, piled high with Asian coleslaw, organic avocado, pea shoots, housemade sesame ponzu and almond ginger sauce. I was able to get a gluten free bun as well. You can also get a quinoa burger or a completely meatless burger. In addition, there is a seasonal farmer's market salad.
One of the differences between the Santa Monica Pono and the one on Rose, is that there are cocktails served in Venice, in addition to the beer and wine offered in both locations. Again, Chef Gerardi is using quality ingredients like organic juices and elixirs in the seasonal drinks. No refined sugar here. I'm hoping the Pepa doesn't go anywhere soon as the bright green cocktail came with Hacienda Vieja Blanco tequila, organic cumber, lime, cilantro and thai chile. Jut the right amount of sweetness and spice.
So to sum it up, yup, we need Pono too. I like Pono Burger Venice's casual setting and pretty outdoor patio. I also like that you can belly up to two different bars inside or grab a group to sit at one of the big bench style picnic tables. It's an inexpensive night out with quality ingredients. There's always room for that kind of restaurant in Los Angeles.
Pono Burger (another location on Broadway in Santa Monica)
512 Rose Avenue, Venice