Support creative women with a sparkling evening at the movies and a scrumptious meal at Pono Burger

By Angela Matano

Pono’s decadent burgers pair well with the comic gold of ‘Late Night’

As Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox famously sang in “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” all the way back in 1985, a tipping point has hopefully been reached, putting women at the helm of both restaurants and movies, at least in California. With states like Alabama and Georgia trying to roll back women’s rights, why not vote with your dollar and choose to spend money on ventures run by those of the female persuasion?

The terrific new comedy “Late Night,” directed by Nisha Ganatra and written by the phenomenal Mindy Kaling (“The Office,” “The Mindy Project”), stars Emma Thomson as the host of a struggling late-night talk show. Thompson’s Katherine Newbury, while witty and sharp as a tack, has lost her creative edge. Salvation comes in the unlikely form of Kaling’s Molly Patel, an underdog with a wellspring of undiscovered talents.

Both classic Hollywood and au courant, “Late Night” manages to subvert the fish out of water genre with an original combination of gender bending and an upending of racial stereotypes. Harkening back to the screwball comedies of the ’30s, where the roles of women got turned upside-down, the movie pokes fun at the assumptions people make about each other, gently kissing you while turning the screw tighter.

The result is a rom-com that feels more like a job-com along the lines of “The Devil Wears Prada” or “Broadcast News” — a love affair with work and self-discovery. Kaling and Thompson become each other’s fairy godmothers, granting wishes and fulfilling dreams for each other in ways neither of them could have predicted, a rose-colored snapshot of a world we all dream of and, perhaps — with the stars aligned — can turn into reality.

Chef Makani Carzino of Pono Burger in Santa Monica knows all about manifesting fantasy into something tangible. Her restaurant empire, which began with a burger stand in Hawaii, also includes the upscale Makani on Venice’s Rose Avenue. Deviating from the usual fast food expectations of cheap and greasy, Carzino’s more casual joints, like Pono, emphasize fresh, organic and locally sourced ingredients.

As you might expect, burgers take center stage at Pono Burger, preening in the spotlight. The signature sandwiches use beef and turkey from family-owned ranches, providing an excellent base for fixin’s that can be piled decadently on top like the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. More is most definitely more.

Chomp into the Paniolo, smothered in house-made Kona coffee bourbon BBQ sauce, English oak-smoked cheddar and bacon, and topped with a buttermilk beer-battered onion ring. The strong flavors balance each other out surprisingly well, and the textures — crunchy, chewy, crispy, melty — will unbuckle your heart.

While the burgers certainly shine, there are numerous other items to soak in on the menu. Vegetarians can rejoice in the portobello mushroom sandwich with citrus aioli, for example. Don’t stop yourself there either; the superfood quinoa croquettes with spicy yuzu dipping sauce leave you feeling just this side of virtuous, and the curry cauliflower augmented by a pomegranate-tahini dip bursts with original flavors.

Another strength of Pono Burger is the restaurant’s seasonal menus. New and exciting dishes pop up every few months, giving you abundant reasons to return. At the moment, the rose milkshake, a mixture of rose water and Straus organic vanilla ice cream, brings to mind princesses, Arabian knights and warm summer evenings — a truly transcendent experience.

For an unforgettable evening made up of comfortable standards tweaked in unexpected ways, get out of the house and enjoy what our fair city has to offer, brought to you by women who make
it look easy, even though they have to do it backwards … and in heels.

Pono Burger is at 829 Broadway Ave., Santa Monica | (310) 584-7005;

“Late Night” screens this weekend at The Landmark, 10850 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A. | (310) 470-0492;