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Toronto’s Ultimate Burger Showdown

People who know me, know I’m passionate and obsessed about burgers. A while back, I decided I wanted to try out all the burgers Toronto has to offer. After 30+ different burgers; here is my list, and of course my pick(s) for the best burger in Toronto.

Not everyone will agree with me, but my definition of a perfect burger consists of… A freshly grounded beef patty that crumbles or slightly falls apart when you bite into it (none of that frozen pre-made stuff), finely seasoned meaning that the seasoning should not overpower the natural flavour of the meat. A soft yet slightly toasted bun with fresh crisp vegetable toppings; and sauces (ex. mayo, ketchup, chipotle) that enhances or add a kick to the savory flavour of the patty. And last but not least, I believe all burgers should have cheese. A burger is just not complete without cheese whether it be cheddar, mozzarella, brie or whatever cheese that is available.

The list is broken up into 2 sections. One is for dedicated burger joints; places that specialize in burgers or is known for it’s burger. The second section is for restaurants that offer burger as part of the menu but does not specialize in it. Each store’s location (and website) are listed at the bottom of this page.

Dedicated burger joints

“The Top Joints”

Burger’s Priest
Freshly grounded beef patties topped with cheese and the “Option” (portabello mushrooms filled with mozzarella coated with bread crumbs and fried). Buns are soft, just the right size, nothing pretentious; simply delicious. Very limited options to choose from, following the theory of “doing one thing and doing it well”.
Dangerous Dan’s
Huge portions, anything but fancy, and absolutely arteries clogging. Known for it’s Quadruple C 24oz burger served with 1/4lb of cheese, 1/4lb of bacon and 2 fried eggs. They have lots of specialty burgers to choose from such as exotic ones like “The Elvis” (burger with bacon, peanut butter and fried banana) or “The Big Kahuna” (pineapple, peameal bacon and mozzarrella).
  Five Guys Burgers
Well known U.S. east coast chain (considered the east coast counter-part of In-N-Out) finally made its way into Canada. Simple juicy fast food cheeseburgers with a wide variety of free toppings to add on.

“The Other Guys”

Burger Brats
Tried their “Great Canadian Hangover” burger (3x 6oz patties, 3 slices of cheese, 2 slices of peameal bacon, grilled onions, mushrooms, lettuce, onion, tomato, special sauce and an egg). Only several burgers to choose from and limited toppings selection. Burger patties were cooked well done, the poutine was decent.
Apache Burgers
Old fashion (retro feel) fast food burger joint on the west side. Juicy gooey cheese topped beef patties on a soft bun (a bit too soft) wrapped in foil paper.
  Big Smoke Burgers (formerly Craft Burger)
Doesn’t stand out but seems to do everything well on the menu. Burgers are cooked just right, with decent fries and onion rings. “Good but nothing spectacular” is probably the most suitable phrase to describe them.
BQM Diner
Diner style, seating is a bit cramped. Various specialty burgers to choose from. The patties were fresh and seasoned nicely; the fries and enormous onion rings were the highlights of the meal though.
Golden Star Grill
One of the very few true uptown burger joints. Old school stand-alone diner; nothing much to look at besides good burgers (but very limited topping options). If you’re uptown and need a decent burger fix, this is the place.
 
  Great Burger Kitchen
Great tasting burgers with a nice assortment of toppings. A variety of poutines to choose from. Promotes locally sourced ingredients.
Stampede Bison Grill
Known for their bison burgers. The bison burger was not very impressive but it was still good.
Bamburger
Gourmet style burgers with quite a selection of toppings and cheese. The patties were decent but the flavour just didn’t stand out. They do serve miniature portion desserts which is a nice-to-have option (along with regular sized desserts).
  W Burger Bar
A more hip/trendy setting, unusual for a burger joint. Food was good, and it’s obvious they paid attention to presentation of the food.

“Not Really Impressed”

(photos above from left to right)

Groucho Burgers: Midtown’s answer to the likes of Johnny’s, Golden Star, and Apache.
Johnny’s Charbroiled Hamburgers: Never quite understood what the big hype is about this place. The patties texture and consistency is far from the freshly homemade patties I prefer.
Burger Bar: When the kitchen serves you a burger that has blood soaking through the bottom bun, it shows a lack of attention to detail.
Retro Burger: Closed down recently (Sept/2011), enough said for it’s quality.
Sliders: Was curious so ventured out to Etobicoke to check out their sliders. Nothing special, just a smaller version of a Harveys burger.
Licks Homeburgers: A special kick to the patties which some people love. Uses frozen patties which is a big no-no in my books.

Pubs, Bars, Restaurants that serve burgers

“WOW, Big Surprises! Good Surprises!”

Moxie’s Classic Grill
Moxie’s “X-treme” burgers takes the top spot on this portion of the list; probably a bit of a shocker for many people. I tried the “X-treme” burger at several locations; and every time, the double patties were juicy and cooked to perfection.
Utopia Cafe & Grill
Awesome burger with fresh crisp vegetable toppings. The texture and consistency of the burger patty was right-on, especially with the melted cheese and bacon. Most of the other food on the menu are good as well.
  Caplansky’s Delicatessen
Known for their smoked meat, their Caplansky’s burger beef patty consists of 70% ground beef and 30% smoked meat. The result is a juicy burger with a hint of smoked meat.

“Order Something Else If You Can”

Stockyards Smokehouse & Larder
Famous for their BBQ and incredible fried chicken, their burger was done right as well. It’s in line with some of the gourmet burger joints, but definitely not their forte.
Mill Street Brewery
Quite a good burger with fresh ingredients, very satisfying with a nice cold beer on a hot summer day on their patio.
  Turtle Jack’s Muskoka Grill
Was hoping that I run into another Moxie’s quality burger but it wasn’t quite as fantastic. It was still good with a nicely seasoned and cooked patty topped with avacado and crispy vegetable toppings.
Duggan’s Brewery
More known for their beer than food, it was still a decent patty albeit a bit overcooked. Nothing to write home about as it was similar to burgers from other pubs (ex. Gabby’s, Firkin’s, etc).
Smokey Joe’s Cafe
The environment and location is the selling point here… rooftop patio uptown is pretty rare.
  Bier Markt
Don’t bother trying as it was a $25 kobe beef burger that was horribly overcooked with absolutely no traces of kobe beef.

Apache Burgers.. 5236 Dundas St. West, Etobicoke
Bamburger (www.bamburger.ca).. 2116 Yonge St., Toronto
Bier Markt (www.thebiefmarkt.com).. 600 King St. West, Toronto
BQM Diner (www.burgershoppe.com).. 354 Queen St. West, Toronto
Burger Bar (www.theburgerbar.ca).. 319 Augusta Ave., Toronto
Burger Brats (www.burgerbrats.ca).. 254 Adelaide St. West, Toronto
Burger’s Priest (www.theburgerspriest.com).. 1636 Queen St. East, Toronto
Caplansky’s Delicatessen (www.caplanskys.com).. 356 College St., Toronto
Big Smoke Burger (www.bigsmokeburger.com).. Various locations in downtown Toronto
Dangerous Dan’s Diner (www.dangerousdansdiner.com).. 714 Queen St. East, Toronto
Duggan’s Brewery (www.duggansbrewery.com).. 75 Victoria St., Toronto
Five Guys Burgers (www.fiveguys.com).. 7600 Weston Rd., Vaughan
Golden Star Burgers.. 7123 Yonge St., Thornhill
Great Burger Kitchen (www.greatburger.ca).. 1056 Gerrard St. East, Toronto
Groucho Burger.. 1574 Bayview Ave., Toronto
Johnny’s Charbroiled Hamburgers.. 2596 Victoria Park Ave., Scaborough
Licks Homeburgers (www.lickshomeburgers.com).. Various locations in the GTA
Mill Street Brewery (www.millstreetbrewery.com).. 55 Mill St., Toronto
Moxie’s Classic Grill.. Various locations in the GTA
Retro Burger.. 1450 Yonge St., Toronto
Sliders.. 704 Queensway, Etobicoke
Smokey Joe’s Cafe (www.smokeyjoescafe.ca).. 4899 Yonge St., North York
Stampede Bison Grill.. 5 Brock Ave., Toronto
The Stockyards Smokehouse & Larder (www.thestockyards.ca).. 699 St. Clair Ave., Toronto
Turtle Jack’s Muskoka Grill (www.turtlejacks.com).. Various locations in the GTA
Utopica Cafe & Grill (www.utopiacafe.ca).. 586 College St., Toronto
W Burger Bar (www.wburgerbar.com).. 10 College St., Toronto

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email: mike@mphotos.ca
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