This notoriously raucous Parkdale roadhouse is to true southern U.S. barbecue what sister resto Grand Electric around the corner is to authentic Mexican street food - not even remotely - and all the better for it. An impossibly small room, picnic-table seating and ZZ Top cranked to 11 guarantee the party never stops.
Order this: Have your boneless southern-fried chicken thigh with cider syrup and gravy ($9.50), but we'll take the seriously addictive Crack Rolls ($3.75 for three) spread with salty whipped butter and laced with pork-fat drippings straight from the Mud's Southern Pride smoker every time. How'd they get their name? Ask us again when you've eaten seven.
Wednesday to Monday 5 pm to 1 am. Bar till close. Closed Tuesday, some holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Cash only. Access: barrier-free, tight seating, washrooms upstairs. Rating: NNNNN
1246 Danforth, at Greenwood, 416-769-1432, thefuzzbox.ca
Loved as much as they're loathed, this east-side takeaway's spin on Halifax-style donairs can definitely be filed under "acquired taste." Some go gaga for pitas stuffed with spicy paprika beef and ripe tomato and drizzled with a sickly-sweet sauce made with condensed milk, vinegar, sugar and garlic powder. Others just gag. Of course, it helps to be blitzed out of your brain. Or so we're told.
Order this: the super-sized donair ($9.49) with extra sauce (75 cents) and bacon ($1.75), and sides of Annapolis coleslaw ($2.49) and hand-cut homefries exotically tossed with caraway seeds ($2.89).
Monday to Thursday 11:30 am to 8 pm, Friday and Saturday 11:30 am to 11 pm. Closed Sunday, holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
Home of the Brave
This successor to La Carnita ticks all the trendy boxes. A nouveau junk food carte à la 416 Snack Bar, 30-something servers covered in ink, and obnoxiously loud dinner music of the 90s hippin' and hoppin' persuasion are all front and centre. As they should be. Shame you can't hear yourself think, let alone talk to the person on your right. Constantly shouting "Huh?" isn't our idea of sparkling repartee.
Order this: relive your childhood with fried baloney sandwiches on McDonald's-style sesame-seed buns dressed with house-made processed American cheese, toasted pistachios and spicy mayo ($11) and a side of deep-fried Tater Tots finished with both cheese and gravy ($7).
Lunch Monday to Friday from noon, dinner Monday to Wednesday 5 to 11 pm, Thursday to Saturday 5 pm to 2 am. Closed Sunday, some holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Access: 11 steps at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN
189 Harbord, at Borden, 416-535-4444, pizzagigi.ca
Launched back in the 60s, this defiantly old-school pizzeria close to U of T made international headlines when it was raided by the drug squad three years ago. Who knew you could get a dime bag alongside your veggie pizza slice? No wonder NOW name Gigi fourth-best in town in 2010. Back in business, the family-run joint's pizza is still as good as ever. Just don't ask for extra "oregano."
Order this: thick-crusted party-sized pies dressed with sauce, diced ham, pineapple chunks and double mozzarella (the Hawaiian, $24.50).
Daily 4 pm to 4 am. Delivery. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: four steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
345 Rexdale Blvd, at Martin Grove, 416-742-5806, @steakqueen
Located in a bleak Etobicoke industrial park, this low-rent Harvey's wannabe is best known as the favourite late-night haunt of a certain patois-spouting mayor prone to drunken stupors and crack binges. We blame the $3.25 Buds, the cheap prefab burgers with frozen fries and the free parking. For the full YouTube experience, sit in RoFo's favourite seat closest to the cash register. You'll note that it's broken. An extra N for friendly staff with the patience of saints.
Order this: grilled double pork chops served with sad iceberg lettuce salad and those far from perfect fries ($8.95), a side of gravy (50 cents) and whatever Hizzoner's having.
24/7. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NN