After opening two locations of their popular Indian restaurant Badmaash, brothers Nakul and Arjun Mahendro along with their father, Pawan, have turned their attention to a new comfort food: burgers.
Burgers 99 opened Monday on La Brea Avenue.
The casual all-day restaurant offers several varieties of minimalist burgers on potato rolls, including an $8 bacon cheeseburger brushed with an Apple-Pan-esque hickory sauce and a $6 vegan burger with a housemade potato-mushroom-chickpea patty. The menu also includes bacon and egg sandwiches; breakfast burritos stuffed with hash browns and American cheese; hot dogs, fries and a salted peanut milkshake.
“We’ve always wanted to open a classic American burger joint,” Nakul said. “When our family moved from Toronto to Irvine 10 years ago, we lived right next to the In-N-Out on El Toro Road. That really opened our eyes to the SoCal burger experience.”
The brothers enlisted Geovanny Delgado as chef after sampling an unfussy burger that the San Fernando Valley native cooked while working at the Arts District cocktail bar Here & Now. There Delgado created a Thousand-Island-style dressing — flavored with charred Fresno chiles, dill, cumin and coriander — that he now uses as the house “secret sauce” at Burgers 99.
“It’s a little more refined and complex than a traditional burger sauce, but the flavors are very familiar to anyone who has eaten around L.A.,” Delgado said.
Arjun said the restaurant’s goal is to provide a quick and affordable meal to a neighborhood that includes upscale dining options such as Sugarfish, Sycamore Kitchen and Republique.
The streetwear-influenced, retro-styled interior of the restaurant features white subway tile and a short counter that overlooks the kitchen; a red neon sign beckons diners from the street.
As for the restaurant’s name? The brothers say they chose it for its particular phonaesthetic, à la “cellar door.” Or, as Nakul likes to put it: “Burgers 99 is a vibe.”
Burgers 99 is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Breakfast items are available until noon.
131 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, burgers99.com