Pono Burger, the funky little Santa Monica burger outfit mostly set up in the Quonset Hut, a historic prefab metal relic from WWII. Easier than battling the lines around the corner at that point, we opted for burgers instead of Italian subs. Brought to the mainland from Windy "Makani" Gerardi, who owns Ultimate Burger in Kona, Pono is known for organic meats and vegetarian patties, interesting toppings, hand-cut fries and thick shakes made with Strauss Organic soft serve ice cream.
While most of the combos are big on flavor and texture - bacon and balsamic-strawberry compote top the Sweet Mona, and potato chips and guava rum sauce are on another - we were drawn to the simpler flavors of the turkey burger. That is, if you consider Asian slaw, avocado, sprouts, almond-ginger sauce and house-made wonton chips "simple." Even if the patty was a tad dry, the flavors worked, and the bun was good and fresh. We tried both the sweet potato and regular fries, and although our server said we wouldn't "need" ketchup when we asked for it instead of aioli, we still preferred it. A matter of taste, really. Of course we finished with a shake, going for a straightforward chocolate topped with crunchy cocoa nibs. Absolutely delicious.
A few guys who had just polished off their feast were talking about how stuffed they were - one even lay down on the banquette - but we weren't obnoxiously full. Then again, we know how to push away a basket of fries before it's empty (they couldn't stop).