Mr Charlies has landed in Australia! The vegan version of McDonalds opened up their first location outside of California in Redfern, Sydney. The question that everyone has is: what is the food like and does it taste like McDonalds? You'd be surprised at one item in particular.
Mr Charlies first opened in February 2022, in Los Angeles by namesake Charlie Kim and friends Taylor McKinnon and Aaron Haxton. The opening hours are 11:11am and the logo reads, "Mr Charlies TMS" - the TMS doesn't stand for trademarks but "Told Me So" as in "Mr Charlies Told Me So". Redfern was a deliberate choice and a spokesperson has explained their reasoning on Instagram saying, “Why Redfern? Because we are a company on a mission to create change, and where better to start than by aiding our Indigenous communities. We are proud to be teaming up with some incredible charities and brand partners who are creating opportunity for the Aboriginal people.”
It's a warm and windy Friday afternoon when I meet Monica and Marco at Mr Charlies for a quick lunch. The shop is located on Cope Street, the tiny street parallel to busy Regent Street. The shop is clearly visible with bright red signage and the menu is short and sweet. There's the vegan equivalent of a hamburger (Not a Hamburger), cheeseburger (Not a Cheeseburger)or a double cheeseburger (Double Not) plus French fries, nuggets and a drink. A Frowny meal (their version of a Happy meal) will set you back $29.90 and includes a Double Not, 4 Nuggets, fries and a drink. The Not Happy Meals come in red boxes with the frown logo instead of McDonalds trademark smile.
The menu is a scaled down version of what is available in America and the breakfast options, Not a Chicken Sandwich and the Big Chuck aren't available at the time of our visit. It's early days so while the drink pumps remain a decorative feature for now, they'll soon stock iced tea. The Redfern store doesn't have any tables or seating although you can grab one of the benches outside or pull up a picnic rug. And while the store is eyecatching, it is nowhere near as photogenic as the Venice Beach store.
We order, get a number and wait for our order to be ready which takes about 5 minutes. The Double Burger has two impossible patties, 2 slices of vegan cheese, pickles, onion, ketchup and mustard. The first Double Not burger is pretty good but the second one we ordered was much better both visually and taste wise (the first one looks totally ordered at Wish). The second burger was hotter, the patties more distinct and looked more like the photo and was generous with the pickles (confession: I'm the person that asks for extra sauce and pickles on my cheeseburger). The burger itself is about 90% like a McDonalds cheeseburger, the Impossible patty the only real giveaway. But if you're craving a burger without the meat it's really not a bad option with the bun, cheese (vegan), pickles and onion pretty much replicating the original.
I did ask for fries to come out super hot which we were told would (spoiler, they were warm, definitely not hot enough).
While the burger was great, the soybean nuggets don't really have a lot of flavour to them and are much less convincing. They are best dipped in a sauce, for us the green sauce is a winner on everything but a double dip in the chipotle mayo and the sweet and sour sauce masks helps.
Apart from the epic jalapeno and coriander green sauce there's also chipotle sauce and a vegan mayo that are all house made as well as tomato sauce, bbq sauce and sweet and sour sauce. There is a lot of packaging with the sauces and most of the tubs were half full while others completely full which was just a bit odd since you're paying for each. The green sauce is everyone's favourite and smooths out any edges with a robust, creamy sauce. It's great for dipping fries in or the nuggs or even the burger!
So tell me Dear Reader, what do you think of Mr Charlies? Would you try it?
This meal was independently paid for.
3 Cope St, Redfern, Sydney NSW
Soft Opening Hours
Friday & Saturday 11:11am-9:49pm