Months before officially opening its first brick-and-mortar location in Koreatown, Monty’s Good Burger was something of a foodie phenomenon.
After pop-ups at events like Coachella and Stagecoach, buzz began growing around the plant-based burger joint with the super-simple menu.
Monty’s is like In-N-Out (sans animal products) — and with an adorable dog as its mascot.
The concept is counter service, and customers can dig into meaty, multilayered burgers, thick shakes and classic fries. It’s an old-school, all-American menu reinvented for increasingly conscious eaters.
With an Instagram account that’s only a month old, the brand already has more than 24,000 followers — and two locations. With a second spot now open in Riverside Food Lab, both locales frequently see lines more than 50 people deep.
The menu has mass appeal, says co-founder Nic Adler, adding that sometimes meat eaters don’t realize they’re eating a plant-based burger until they’re halfway through and overhear someone mention it’s vegan.
“The key to Monty’s is how simple it is, how familiar it is,” says Adler, the founder of L.A.’s annual Eat Drink Vegan food fest.
As a vegan for more than two decades, he praises the plant-based community but says Monty’s was really made for omnivores as an intro to meatless eating.
“I remember Saturdays getting in my dad’s car and driving to McDonald’s and getting a shake, fries and a cheeseburger and sitting in the parking lot listening to music and talking. When you bite into a Monty’s, you go back to that special place, and that’s when you’re going to change people.”
Monty's founders Adler, Erin and Derric Swinfard of Monster Media, and Dirk and Amy Alton of Best Beverage Catering wanted to create a plant-based restaurant concept that would appeal to all eaters with a simple menu and delicious, familiar food.
“We just felt like we had such an opportunity to change people’s minds through burgers, hip-hop, fries, shakes, our dog’s face, the colors — just all the things that make up Monty’s,” Adler says.
Everything at Monty’s is 100 percent plant-based and environmentally friendly; the team sources fresh, local ingredients, mostly from within a 30-mile range.
The super-simple menu is designed to make ordering easy. Monty’s offers a single or double burger with an Impossible Burger patty, Follow Your Heart vegan cheese, house spread, lettuce, tomato, pickles and grilled onions on a Bosch Bakery potato bun.
(The Impossible Burger is a plant-based burger available only in select restaurants; it's widely lauded for having the taste, texture, and sizzle of beef.)
Julienne fries and tater tots are Monty’s two most popular sides, and they come with a choice of dipping sauces including house ketchup, ranch, onion aioli, house spread and sriracha aioli.
Floats and shakes (made with Klein’s Ice Cream) come in vanilla, coffee, chocolate and strawberry.
There are also kid’s meal options, fountain or bottled sodas made with pure cane sugar, house-made lemonade, cookies by Rocco’s Sweet Shoppe and sides made from scratch.
The menu is entirely customizable within its offerings, so guests can order triple burgers with different sauces, shakes with cookies mixed in, or whatever other combos they can dream up.
Adler’s favorite order? “I get a double with extra pickles and ranch instead of house spread.”
As far as the future for Monty’s, expansion is definitely in the air. But right now the team is focused on turning its first two spots into well-oiled machines.
“When you have a line down the street, you don’t have a lot of time to figure out logistics,” Adler says. “We’re trying to solidify our system right now, and that’s where our focus is.”
“At the same time I could check my email right now and there’d be 10 people asking us if we franchise or if we want to go to New York City or Mumbai. The response on that front has been amazing and it’s definitely in our minds; we’re exploring new locations.”
Monty’s Koreatown, 516 S. Western Ave., Koreatown; (909) 259-0652, montysgoodburger.com. Sun.-Wed., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Thu.-Sat., 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Monty’s Riverside (inside Riverside Food Lab), 3605 Market St., Riverside; daily 11 a.m.-11 p.m.