Sonny McLean’s House-Made Veggie Burger Scores Big

Story & Photos by Remy Noelle

I haven’t had a “real” hamburger in years, so when it comes to veggie burgers, I can say without shame that I’ve been around. I’ve run the gamut of patties, from Garden and Boca to bougie brands you see in fancy grocery stores. Having messed around with generic veggie hockey pucks, I understand the aversion to any burger that doesn’t involve lots of beef – but homemade patties are in a league of their own. While some burgermeisters think stomaching a mashed circle of sweet potatoes, barley and mushrooms is more daunting than plowing through a quarter-pounder, I’m always game.


Hold up. Make that Sonny McLean’s homemade blend of black beans, white quinoa, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes. The unsuspecting Irish pub on Wilshire and 27th is harboring a mean menu item, and its name is the equally innocent “Veggie Patty.” In a testament to owner Grant Woods’ confidence in the stand-alone flavor of his “bloody good” veggie burger, the ensemble arrived without heavy aiolis or sauces. Every ingredient shone through on its own – the sundried tomatoes gave every bite a burst of tangy flavor, and Panko breadcrumbs bound the blend together without a flaw. Bun and burger were grilled to prime crispness — the veggie patty at Sonny McLean’s is no mash, and it held its shape between those two sweet brioche buns (sweet in every sense of the word) with impressive resolve.

While some burger joints take their burgers way too seriously and think fries are something to be requested (Pono Burger, I’m looking at you), Sonny McLean’s understands that burgers and fries suffer from some severe separation anxiety. Sonny’s fries don’t mess around — the mountain of thinly sliced sweet potatoes and Russets were herbed to high heaven. Had the burger and fries been people, they’d be the couple that turns heads, manicured and coiffed with at least 1,000 Instagram followers.

If you’re a true American pub goer for whom a burger just ain’t a burger without a beer, Sonny’s has an impressive lineup of standard and craft beers on tap. I’m only half American, so I skipped the beer and opted for a simple gin and tonic, while my dining partner went for the Peach Palmer. The drinks are strong and never too sweet, and the service is quick.

When dining out I rarely meet a handcrafted veggie patty I don’t like, but by that same token, I rarely meet one that blows me away. This one both blew me away and had me checking my calendar for the next time I could meet it again. Head over to Sonny McLean’s any day of the week, especially if you’re looking for a good spot to watch a sports game. Finish it all off with the brownie and vanilla gelato — Sonny’s knows that’s another match made in heaven — and you’ve got yourself a good night.


Veggie patty: $12

Sonny McLean’s Irish Pub

2615 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403