We have it on pretty good authority that the human-shaped mass of Monster Energy Drink that is the Food Network's Guy Fieri is rolling into Toronto this week, offering a chance to factually prove that Guy Fieri isn't just a TV construct design to frighten children into eating vegetables and provoke food critics to work over their new thesauruses.
Fieri will for sure be at Mount Sinai Hospital on December 1 to host Chef's Challenge: The Ultimate Battle for the Cure fundraiser. But we've also been tipped off that the ubiquitous celebrity chef/human punchline will be at the Lakeview on Dundas West and Ossington this week.
It's a sensible choice, considering that Fieri's popular Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives has made its name showcasing holes-in-the-wall and joints and greasy spoons that, for the most part, are really dressed-up diners offering "modern twists" on classic comfort food. With Guy loose in Toronto, we put together a list of places he should visit, the most Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives-y spots in Flavourtown North.
1. Harbord Fish and Chips (147 Harbord Street, at Borden): You can argue until you're blue in the face about where to get the best fish and chips in Toronto. But Harbord is the realest. You can't order arctic char or anything, like you can at The One That Got Away, and it's not a wannabe franchise like Chippy's. Harbord is the real deal. Which makes it the perfect place for Guy Fieri to impose himself on, frantically nodding like a bobblehead of himself, and offer some canned sentiment like, "Oh this place is the real deal."
2. Dangerous Dan's Diner (741 Queen East, at Broadview): Dangerous Dan's specializes in the kind of gooey food porn that Fieri's Triple D makes it stock and trade. So it seems like an obvious choice. The run-down Queen East burger hole cooks up ungodly burgers like the Quadruple C-the 24 ounce Colossal Colon Clogger Combo, topped with a quarter pound of cheese and a pound of bacon-and actively courts munchie-starved potheads by placing tiny weed leafs next to certain menu items. Then again, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives also focuses on people enjoying themselves in restaurants. And eating at Dangerous Dan's is a nightmare, mostly because of owner James McKinnon's tendency to loudly berate his staff and talk down to patrons who waste even half a second of his adorably precious time when ordering. Like we get it: you're grumpy. This isn't New York or Chicago or some other place where people pay to be condescended to by some sassy wait staff. Just make me a six-pound hamburger and save the attitude for your mad fantasies of all the women who never paid attention to you in high school.
3. Grand Electric (1330 Queen West, at Brock): The idea of Guy Fieri's rented red Camaro screeching to an awful halt in front of the always-packed Parkdale taqueria would be a nice way of nipping the neighbourhood's accelerated gentrification in the bud. But Fieri's day-glo shadow darkening Grand Electric's door may only increase business, because of that irony stuff the cools are so hot for these days. Anyway, it'd be fun to see Fieri's fleshy boxing glove hands try to maneuver around some of those teeny-tiny tacos.
4. Jack Astor's (Various Locations, at Pretty Much Anywhere): We're pretty sure if we packed this place with a bunch of slack-jawed jokers oooh-ing and aaaah-ing wide-eyed at plates of fried calamari and "License to Grill Salmon," we could easily convince Guy Fieri that this is a real place to eat and not just a convenient location to idle away 90 minutes with your dad who's passing through town. Jack Astor's is pretty much the Guy Fieri of restaurants.
5. Barque (123 Anystreet, at ????): This is actually a delicious restaurant and probably doesn't need the push of a Guy Fieri recommendation so whatever you do don't let him know about it.