Burger’s Preist drool-inducing Double Double
1. Burger's Priest
1636 Queen E, at Coxwell, 647-346-0617, theburgerspriest.com.
Yes, Shant Mardirosian's signature Double Double cheeseburger ($7.99) is a mess, and deliciously so. Here's why: two 3-ounce patties of roughly ground beef (what cut he's not sayin') fried smash-style on a griddle, flipped, covered with a lid to seal in the flavours and finally dressed with sweetly caramelized onions and unapologetically American processed cheese. Serve on an absorbent Wonderbread bun as tradition dictates and induce drooling. The truly righteous know to order them fried in Heinz mustard à la Jarge (jarz-sh). And while he has no problem with pickles - which he offers - he considers relish a sacrilege and will only add it to your burger for a price: $500 an ounce. "Think I'm kidding? Try me!" And what's this we hear about a second Priest to launch shortly in Leaside?
Monday to Wednesday 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, Thursday and Friday 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Saturday noon to 10:30 pm. Closed Sunday, some holidays. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: barrier-free, no washrooms.
2. Stockyards Smokehouse & Larder
699 St Clair W, at Christie, 416-658-9666, thestockyards.ca.
Most come to Tom Davis's uptown barbecue shack for some of the best smoked ribs and chicken in town. Who knew his roughly ground smash-griddled burgers would turn into a major attraction on their own? Davis takes aim at the Priest's Double Double - and just misses - with his mustard-seared Animal cheeseburger ($7.50) but hits the bull's eye with his Butter burger ($9), a beefy 6-ounce patty topped with butter lettuce, a whack of skinny onion rings and a sizable pat of bone-marrow-laced compound butter.
Tuesday to Saturday 9 am to 9 pm. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 3 pm, dinner Sunday 4:45 to 8 pm. Closed Monday, holidays. Unlicensed. Access: steep ramp at door, washrooms on same floor.
3. Woody's Burgers
3795 Lake Shore W, at Brown's Line, 416-546-2093, woodysburgers.com.
Rising from the ashes of Freshwood Grill, this west-side take-away prides itself on doing everything naturally, from its hand-pressed 7-ounce beef patties stuffed with processed cheddar ($6.35) to its freshly made salsa and grilled jalapeño toppings. Even the wood they're grilled over is all-Canadian hardwood. Lots of alterna-burgers, too - tandoori chicken, bison - and they'll sell them to you raw to cook at home on the barbie. It's a shame that Woody's halfway to Hamilton, cuz downtown, these guys would give Stockyards and the Priest a run for their money.
Daily 11:30 am to 9 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Booth seating.
4. Golden Star
7123 Yonge, at Doncaster, 905-889-6891.
Growing up in Thornhill, we scorned this classic burger joint just north of the city's limits as an after-dinner dining destination. We cool cats would commandeer somebody or other's mother's station wagon and hightail it to the then one-and-only Harvey's in Richmond Hill. What fools we. Instead, we could have been chowing down on the nearly 50-year-old resto's classic All-Star Burger Deluxe ($7.10), 6 extremely juicy ounces of never-frozen medium-grind Nortown steak loaded with processed cheddar, beefy bacon and house-made barbecue sauce, the lot "run through the garden." Who said you can never go home again (editor's note: Thomas Wolfe and the Shangri-las)?
Daily 10 am to 11 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor.
5. W Burger Bar
10 College, at Yonge, 416-961-2227, wburgerbar.com.
Before I visited this handsome midtown burger bar, I'd always assumed the W in its name stood for wannabee, all flash and no substance. Colour me wrong. Instead, I encounter an impossibly moist and medium-rare (ish) 6-ounce hand-formed patty of hormone-free beef cooked smash-style on a flat-top and served on a toasted house-baked whole wheat bun stacked with ripe tomato and leaf lettuce ($6.99), a complimentary plate of celery ‘n' carrot sticks with blue cheese dip on the side. Upgrades of good local cheddar ($1.50) and meaty bacon ($1.25) only intensify the taste.
Monday to Wednesday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Thursday and Saturday 11:30 am to 2 am, Sunday noon to 11 pm. Licensed. Access: two steps at foor, washrooms in basement.
6. European Meats
176 Baldwin, at Kensington, 416-596-8691.
This hectic butcher shop in Kensington Market has always been known for its stellar house-made hot dogs, but who knew its snack counter also flipped a burger of equal repute? Go for the basic Texas burger ($2.50) - 6 ounces of specially ground beef on a surprisingly good bun generously topped upside-down with chopped lettuce, diced onion, dill pickle and tangy tzatziki - or the double ($3.75) if you're really hungry.
Monday to Saturday 8:30 am to 6 pm. Closed Sunday, holidays. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, no washrooms.
7. Gourmet Burger Company
482 Parliament, at Carlton, 647-344-5103, thegourmetburgerco.com.
Of all the recent would-be burger franchises, only John Ward's mini-chain has the goods to go all the way. His secret weapon? The Aussie burger ($8.50), 6 ounces of aged lean never-frozen house-ground Canadian beef topped with enough bacon, lettuce, tomato, Hellman's mayo, gooey cheddar, grilled pineapple, honey-poached beets and a runny fried egg to sink a battleship. What other burger includes all four food groups?
Sunday to Thursday 11 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 11 pm. Closed some holidays. Unlicensed. Access: bump at door, no washrooms, counter seating.
8. Chuck and Co.
672 St Clair W, at Christie, 416-533-3500, chuckandco.com.
We were ready to dismiss this newish chain after sampling its miserable Masala turkey burger ($7) at its Liberty Village location. However, one look at the swanky uptown outpost's Bacon Cheddar Burger ($8) and our intial reaction's out the window - one bite and we're converts. Where else will you come across 4 ridiculously succulent ounces of freshly ground chuck topped with smoky bacon, gooey cheddar and all the fixin's on a fancy-pants ciabatta bun?
Monday to Thursday noon to 9 pm, Friday noon to 10 pm, Saturday 9 am to 10 pm, Sunday 9 am to 3 pm. Brunch weekends till 3 pm. Licensed. Access: barrier-free.
9. Burger Shack
233 Eglinton W, at Oriole Pkwy, 416-487-1974.
As the Golden Star is to Thornhill, this family-style fast food joint is to Forest Hill. Like the Star's All-Star, the Shack burger of choice is the Homemade Banquet Burger ($5.25), 6 significant ounces of never-frozen beef dressed with processed cheddar, regulation bacon and a truckload of lettuce, tomato and sweetly caramelized onion. Still up from the night before? Have a burger for breakfast!
Monday 8 am to midnight, Tuesday to Thursday 8 am to 1:30 am, Friday and Saturday 8 am to 3 am, Sunday 9 am to midnight. Closed some holidays. Unlicensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor.
10. BQM Diner
354 Queen W, at Spadina, 416-792-7792, burgershoppe.com.
Yes, it's a shame that this landmark luncheonette is no longer the legendary Stem. But credit owner Saeed Mohamed for keeping much of the original resto's decor, Formica-clad booths ‘n' all. The food, however, is a marked improvement on that served at the former greasy spoon, particularly the BQM Banquetburger ($9), 4 ounces of never-frozen naturally raised AAA Ontario chuck, finished with processed Canadian cheddar and thick meaty bacon.
Sunday to Thursday 11 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to midnight. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, booth and counter seating, washrooms in basement.
365 King W, at Peter, 416-977-3010, grindhouse.ca.
We have to give points to this tourist strip resto-lounge for creating one of the juciest patties around, the Signature ($7), 5 plump ounces of grass-fed, hormone-free and locally sourced beef. We'll even thumbs-up their smoked artisanal Jarlsberg upgrade ($1.75). But we'll take those points away for a bun that literally falls apart within 15 seconds, no matter if it is made with whole wheat flour spiked with Steam Whistle Pilsner.
Sunday to Wednesday 11 am to midnight, Thursday to Saturday 11 am to 3 am. Closed holidays. Licensed. Access: five steps at door, washrooms on same floor.
12. Acme Burger Company
542 Church, at Wellesley W, 647-352-4089, theacmeburgercompany.com.
Despite the generic handle, this import from Rob Fordland (aka Etobicoke) is the only burger chain in town that serves halal meat. Not that you can taste the difference. Housed in the old Zelda's, the chic new room will shock those used to the intentionally trashy decor of old. The namesake burger's gone upmarket as well, now 8 ounces of certified Angus beef ($6.49) upgraded with "real" cheddar cheese and bacon (75 cents each). Still, we miss the drag queen bingo.
Sunday to Wednesday 11 am to midnight, Thursday to Friday 11 am to 4 am. Licensed. Access: slight bump at door, washrooms on same floor.
13. Five Guys Scarborough
800 Warden, at Sherry, 416-755-5757, fiveguys.ca.
The arrival of this American burger chain has been regarded in some quarters as the second coming of Ronald McDonald. Frankly, we can't see the fuss. Sure, the Bacon Cheeseburger's ($8.49) a handful, and all extra toppings - grilled onions ‘n' mushrooms, jalapeño peppers, A-1 steak sauce - are on the house. But the processed cheese on them doesn't melt and the bacon's strictly run-of-the-mill. Good thing a regular order of fries ($3.49) is large enough to feed a family of four and bottomless refills of sugary soda pop are free.
Daily 11 am to 10 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free.
14. Hero Certified Burger
77 Wellesley East, at Church, 416-972-9665, heroburgers.com.
When Lettieri first launched this "certified" chain (now with 22 locations and counting) seven years ago in Hazleton Lanes, we failed to jump on board, finding their heavily hyped product undersized and overpriced. And did we mention taste-challenged? Since then, their namesake burgers ($6.99) have gained more heft - when they say 8 ounces, you get a post-grill 6 1/2 as opposed to the previous 4 - flavour and swankier, mostly free toppings. Optional gluten-free bun (79 cents), too. Who says old dogs don't learn new tricks?
Sunday to Wednesday 11 am to 11 pm, Thursday to Saturday 11 am to 3 am. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, steep ramp at door, washrooms on same floor.
15. Great Burger Kitchen
1056 Gerrard E, at Jones, 416-778-0111, greatburger.ca.
Ted Koutsogiannopoulos knows burgers. Before launching this east-side clone of GBC, BQM and BSB, the long-time restaurateur ran Tasty Burger at Queen and Parliament. Some pedigree. And while they aren't the most extravagant Whoppers in town, they're certainly among the most delish, the Classic a 5-ounce mix of Cumbrae's naturally raised brisket and chuck on a Brick Street Bakery bun gussied up with bacon and cheddar ($7.45). Don't do carbs? Wrap them in lettuce leaves!
Daily 11 am to 11 pm. Unlicensed. Access: two steps at door, no washrooms.
1132 Dundas W, at Ossington, 416-850-8886, thelakeviewrestaurant.ca.
This art deco diner has a lot to admire - lovingly restored decor complete with vintage booths, a Wurlitzer jukebox stocked with 50 years of hit singles and a front door that never closes. However, we don't see the point of lining up for bacon ‘n' eggs at three o'clock in the morning. But we would make an exception for the retro resto's Standard Burger ($9.50), 6 ounces of Donato Harvest Farm's naturally raised beef on a Fred's sesame seed bun coupled with both an Asian slaw and very good fries.
24/7. Licensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms on same floor.
17. Big Chubby
269 Augusta, at Nassau, 416-551-6550.
The former Craft Fat Burger's combo has just about everything you could ask for - quality toppings, eggy sesame seed buns, excellent skinny hand-cut fries, a can of pop and archetypically gruff service behind the counter - and it's only $5.99, up a buck since we reviewed them last summer. Shame their patties are now as moist as a mouthful of dry shredded wheat. Bring back the Fat!
Daily 11 am to 10 pm. Unlicensed. Access: short ramp at door, washrooms in basement.
18. Big Smoke Burger
573 King W, at Portland, 416-596-6660, bigsmokeburger.com.
No longer Craft Burger, the rebranded Smoke prides itself on its "handcrafted" product. Yet BSB's Signature ($7.25), 5 ounces of organic Beretta Farms AAA ground beef, upgraded with smoked Canadian cheddar ($1.25) on a grilled whole wheat bun that, despite the stellar provenance of the ingredients involved, still manages to come up a touch dry.
Monday to Friday 11 am to 10 pm, Saturday noon to 11 pm, Sunday and holidays noon to 9 pm. Unlicensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms on same floor.
20 College, at Yonge, 416-923-9867, fransrestaurant.com.
No survey of Toronto's burger scene is complete without a mention of this historic resto's namesake Franburger ($8.99). It might not be the tastiest - we doubt it would make our Top 100 on flavour alone - but it's certainly one of the most culturally significant, having been on the menu since the joint opened its doors in 1940. Yes, the patty's commercial and the fries are frozen, but Fran - who was a man - claims to have invented the Banquet Burger ($11.99), reason alone to make our list.
24/7. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Booth seating.
9471 Yonge, at Observatory Ln, 905-884-8776, harveys.ca.
How the mighty have fallen! Back in the day - oh, 40 years ago - this ubiquitous cross-country chain with nearly 300 locations was the undisputed king of the local burger scene. Today, he's a shadow of his former past, his Double Bacon Cheeseburger ($6.69) now a pair of vaguely rubbery pucks of unidentified cow layered with processed cheese and commercial bacon on a spongy bun dressed with a heap o' toppings. A beautiful thing, we think not.
Daily 10:30 am to 11 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free.