One of the best parts of my job is visiting new restaurants, and I especially enjoy giving my business to family-owned establishments. Located in an unassuming building on Beechmont Avenue, Sonny’s looks awfully small from the outside. When you step through the doors, however, you’re greeted by a friendly, open seating area and a visible kitchen. You might be welcomed by Safet-Dervisa Sabanagic, the “Sonny” of Sonny’s Three Meat Burger, or another member of the family who owns and runs the restaurant. You immediately feel like one of the family because everyone is so friendly and warm. We had a few questions that Safet was more than happy to answer, and then we started conferring about what to order.
Sonny’s no-frills menu greets you when you walk in, boasting the three-meat burger, sandwiches, salads and sides. We quickly decided to try the original three-meat cheeseburger ($5.74; all meals are served with drink and choice of chili, soup of the day or fries), the sliders ($3.99), the grilled chicken sandwich ($5.89) and the fish sandwich ($7.49). Customers are encouraged to build their own burgers and sandwiches with a plethora of add-ons, including a variety of cheeses, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, condiments — your typical burger builders.
We placed our order and then sat at one of the tables (Sonny’s seats about 25 at a time) to wait for our food to come to us. We were able to watch the staff prepare our food, and soon the restaurant was crowded with other families. After a wait of about 15 minutes, our food started arriving.
The grilled chicken was perfectly cooked. Juicy, flavorful and not at all dry, it was served on a toasted Klosterman bun with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. We put the house sauce on it and fell in love. The fries at Sonny’s are delicious and made in-house, something I admire. It would be all too easy to serve pre-cooked, frozen fries, but Sonny’s makes the extra effort and it shows. The fish sandwich was absolutely wonderful. Atlantic cod is hand-battered and deep-fried (though you can also request the fish to be grilled), then served on your choice of rye bread or bun. It’s the best fish sandwich I’ve had in a very long time and it, too, works amazingly well with the house sauce.
The real stars at Sonny’s are the burgers. Three meats — lamb, chicken and beef — are combined in hand-made patties and grilled to order. The burgers have a definite Mediterranean flavor thanks to the lamb, but it is not overpowering. I would love to see a yogurt sauce offered, just to have the option of a kicked-up Mediterranean taste. The house sauce definitely enhances the burgers. I’m pretty sure the house sauce would make anything taste better — we even dipped our fries in it! The sliders are the typical mini burgers; three smaller versions of the regular-sized ones. They’re the perfect size for kids, and one can build them the same way as the original burgers.
The only dish I wasn’t completely happy with was the chili. Made with only finely ground beef, it has a strong tomato base and is very thin. My husband liked it, though, so this was definitely a case of personal preference rather than something the restaurant did wrong.
I would also love to see Sonny’s offer a “regular” burger made with just beef, for those who don’t care for lamb. It would only increase the eatery’s reach and bring in more customers, which would in turn increase the likelihood that Sonny’s will remain open for a long, long time.
I’m always happy to patronize local restaurants, even more so when the food is delicious and the owners are lovely people. I sincerely hope Sonny’s does stay in Anderson for a long while.
SONNY’S THREE MEAT BURGER
Go: 7863 Beechmont Ave., Anderson Twp.
Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Sunday
Entree Prices: $6-$10
Vegetarian Options: Few
Accessibility: Fully accessible