Burgette space
Photos courtesy of Burgette

The RundownLos Angeles

Burgette in Santa Monica Is Your Next Date Night Destination


My partner and I were fighting, or shall we say, co-creating a deeper understanding of our shared life journey. Whatever you want to call it, we weren’t seeing eye-to-eye, but thankfully, we had a hard-to-land Friday night reservation at Burgette, a new Parisian-inspired restaurant and wine bar in Santa Monica worth heading to the Westside for, and we were not canceling.

Our Burgette date night ended in harmony, cohesion, and abundant love and respect, thanks in large part to glasses of pét-nat, gooey soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese, dim lighting, and French fries dipped in mushroom jus that possessed the uncanny flavor of French onion soup. 

Can a dinner reservation be substituted for couples therapy? I’m starting to think yes — especially when said reservation transports you to a hidden bistro in Paris, where all of your needs are anticipated, and you both experience profound sensory pleasure at every turn. Let me elaborate.

Burgette details
The vibes are strong.
Burgette bar

Are we in Santa Monica or a locals-only haunt in the 11th?

Chef Sean MacDonald based Burgette’s design off of one of his favorite spots in Paris, a secret cocktail bar by the Eiffel Tower which he’s conveniently forgotten the name of. “I wanted to make it this moody, Parisian side street-type restaurant that you’d walk into and feel super cozy, where you can sit for hours leisurely enjoying cheese and charcuterie and drinking good wine,” he says. Oui.  

With a dark wooden bar, gold chandeliers, burgundy velvet walls, copper pots dangling from the ceiling, and servers that seem like they’ve just walked off a Godard set, we’d say MacDonald has succeeded. And because it’s 2024 and “phones eat first,” each table is adorned with a personal lamp offering ambient lighting for snapping those perfect burger pics. Be sure to sneak a peek of the curtained-off Champagne room in the back for private parties (shh!), where you’ll find a wall of flutes and coupes handpicked by MacDonald for your drinking pleasure.

Burgette Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts, bone marrow, and more round out the menu.
Burgette beef cheek and bone marrow

Sure, burgers are the draw, but there’s more magic going here.

Burgette and its neighboring sister restaurant, Bar Monette, have a similar “lots of small plates” vibe. But while Bar Monette’s menu draws from Italy and Spain, Burgette’s is pure Parisian. “When I was in Paris, I saw people pick up radishes and butter from the market, and go sit by the canals and eat them and drink wine,” MacDonald reminisces. So he created an appetizer of raw radish and crème fraîche flavored with tarragon, garnished simply with French olive oil and pickled shallots for acidity. It’s a fresh, light dish to start your meal, as is the classic take on a Parisian frisée salad with Dijon vinaigrette, salty olives, diced apple, and fines herbes.

But most things at Burgette are not light. They are rich, luxurious, and borderline sensual. Take, for instance, the wild mushrooms, draped in a puddle of richly flavored jus, topped with fried rosemary and grated Gruyère. The waiter will recommend you also get the frites, and then once you’ve devoured the mushrooms, use said frites to sop up the extra sauce. It’d be similarly foolish not to get a plate of delicate jambon de Paris, shingled atop a nutty brown butter crumb aioli emulsion. And since you’re really going for it, order one of the French cheeses — maybe the 30-month Comté or creamy soft-ripened Vacherousse.

La Burgette burger
Two burgers; both winners.
Burgette La Vivianne smash burger

That being said, don’t skip the burgers.

If you’re wanting a beef burger, you’ve got two options at Burgette. The first is the namesake smash burger, made with Wagyu beef, Dijon sauce, gherkins, and Cheddar cheese. The second option is La Vivianne, named after the chef’s grandmother. “I named it after her because whenever we went to restaurants, she’d order not like you might expect from a grandma — she’d get things like lobster pasta or big steaks instead. She’s very petite, but she’d end up eating the entire thing in one sitting, so I wanted to make a dish that was a little bit funny in that aspect.” And by funny, MacDonald means over-the-top: he pours hot bone marrow butter over the raclette to melt it over the smashed Wagyu patty. 

Not really feeling a burger, but still want Wagyu? There’s beef cheek, slow-cooked for three days, served with a huge marrow bone and a glossy, sweet, wine-heavy sauce inspired by beef Bourguignon. 

Burgette table spread
Burgette details

The wine list is 100% French (and fresh).

MacDonald’s wine supplier is from the Champagne region, and his family produces bubbly. Needless to say, he knows what’s good when it comes to wine. Burgette’s list features plenty of pét-nats, along with one of MacDonald’s personal favorite sparkling wines, Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé. There’s a spectacular white Vermentino from Languedoc and a not-on-every-menu-in-L.A. “Sancerre Rouge” made from pinot noir grapes. In a beer mood? Try the creamy Kronenbourg Blanc wheat beer with notes of grapefruit. 

You can’t go wrong at Burgette, no matter what mood you’re in when you arrive: Simply order a glass or two, some gooey cheese, a burger, and a few small plates, and let your mind wander to somewhere far more romantic than Santa Monica Boulevard.

Who knows, it may even reignite your relationship.

Erin Mosbaugh is a food and travel writer from West L.A. who has worked in kitchens in New York and L.A. and co-created the James Beard Award-winning food site First We Feast. Follow her on Instagram and TikTok; follow Resy, too.