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The last time we ranked the city’s best new burgers, back in 2012, we were caught up in an artisanal fervour. Nowadays, it ain’t no thing to bake a bun on-premise, butcher and dry-age meat for a signature-blend patty, and make super-duper-secret special sauce in-house. So, with all due respect to our former champions, we let a new pack of craft burger makers (who take inspiration from bucolic Ontario farms, Vietnamese market stalls, and just about everywhere in between) duke it out for supremacy. Let the burger wars begin.
#1. Bar Buca’s Bombolone Burger
Rob Gentile mixes lean ground beef with a hit of porky lardo and cooks it to rare. The result is an exceptionally juicy patty that’s then layered with soft, tangy semi-dried tomatoes and rosemary-tinged zabaglione, and sandwiched in an oven-steamed bombolone bun made from the bar’s signature doughnut dough. $14. 75 Portland St., 416-599-2822.
#2. Richmond Station’s STN Burger
Carl Heinrich butchers a full cow every two weeks, and grinds a mix of chuck, brisket, sirloin and round for his burger, then stuffs it with braised neck and short rib. The patty is layered with aged cheddar, sharp pickled onion, sweet beet chutney and garlicky aïoli. $21. 1 Richmond St. W., 647-748-1444.
#3. Rasa’s The Burger
Luscious ground steak is blended with braised beef cheek, then piled high with bread-and-butter pickles, bean sprout kimchee, gochujang aïoli, velvety provolone and a sprinkling of taro root chips inside a toasted black sesame seed brioche bun. $17. 196 Robert St., 647-350-8221.
#4. Patois’ Chinese Pineapple Bun Burger
Craig Wong uses a Chinese pineapple bun (named for the crunchy cross-hatched top half made with a sugar cookie dough) to add a hint of sweetness to the savoury, drippy double patty oozing with oyster sauce mayo and a kitschy sprinkle of hickory sticks. $15.50. 794 Dundas St. W., 647-350-8999.
#5. Colette’s The Colette Burger
Melty gruyère and dijon mayo add serious richness to Amira Becarevic’s juicy patty made with grass-fed Ontario beef. It’s expertly grilled and finished with a brush of confit garlic oil and caramelized vidalia onions, then speared with house-made pickles. $19. 550 Wellington St. W., 647-348-7000.
#6. Whippoorwill’s The Whippoorwill Burger
Tyler Cunningham collaborated with Ace Bakery to create his ideal burger bun, a buttery base for a medium-rare prime rib patty topped with Ontario aged white cheddar, sweet house-made pickles and a smear of punchy Russian dressing that the staff calls Big Mac sauce on crack. $14. 1285 Bloor St. W., 416-530-2999.
#7. OddSeoul’s The Loosey
The Han brothers have made a name for themselves as the kings of crave-worthy Korean-American snacks. The Loosey is a roasted kimchee–stuffed short rib and brisket patty sandwiched between two slices of buttery challah, topped with pickles, fried onions and kimchee hollandaise. $5. 90 Ossington Ave., no phone.
#8. P&L Burger’s The P&L Burger
The burger at Matty Matheson’s Parts and Labour in Parkdale was such a hit that he decided to open a dedicated patty shack a few miles east. Our favourite is the namesake: Ontario ground chuck layered with cheddar cheese, dill pickle mayo, bacon-onion jam and iceberg lettuce. $10. 507 Queen St. W., 416-603-9919.
#9. The Federal’s Four Guys Burger
The Fed’s kicked-up take on a fast food burger is built with a griddle-smashed patty of chuck and brisket slathered with gherkin-mustard-ketchup sauce, crispy bacon, caramelized onions and melted American cheese, all on a fluffy milk bun from Blackbird. $14. 1438 Dundas St. W., 647-352-9120.
#10. The Carbon Bar’s Bacon Cheeseburger
Hidde Zomer coaxes complex flavour from a blend of brisket, chuck and aged prime rib from Cumbrae Farms for this haute cheeseburger, which includes thick slices of oakwood-smoked bacon, creamy gouda, zippy dill pickles and mayo mustard. $21. 99 Queen St. E., 416-947-7000.
#11. Home of the Brave’s HOTB Burger
The cast iron–seared patty made with AAA rib-eye has a perfectly pink interior, topped with gooey house-made processed cheese, pickle-spiked mayo, beefsteak tomato and crisp iceberg lettuce on a soft milk bun. $13. 589 King St. W., 2nd flr., 416-366-2736.
#12. Rose and Sons’ Patty Melt
Anthony Rose’s amped-up cheeseburger on caraway rye is pure gluttonous hedonism. Hand-ground chuck seared on a flat-top has a crisp crust and succulent interior. It’s smothered in caramelized onions, molten cheddar and chili mayo. $17. 176 Dupont St., 647-748-3287.
#13. Woody’s The Tokyo Burger
The campfire char on the meaty burgers at Woody’s comes from a hardwood-burning grill. The beefy base is the starting point for a menu full of options, but we love the Tokyo, with pickled ginger, fried onions and wasabi mayo. $6.95. 3795 Lake Shore Blvd. W., 416-546-2093.
#14. Drake One Fifty’s One Fifty Burger
A shiny milk bun baked at the Drake Commissary cradles a tasty bundle of 30-day-aged short rib, brisket and chuck, topped with thick slabs of Perth bacon, aged cheddar, pickled red onion and jalapeño-spiked Russian dressing. $21. 150 York St., 416-363-6150.
#15. Café Boulud’s The Frenchie Burger
This serious seven-ouncer, imported from Daniel Boulud’s DBGB in N.Y.C., is dolled up with morbier cheese, pork belly, arugula, dijon mustard and tomato-onion compote on a black pepper bun. $24. 60 Yorkville Ave., 416-963-6000.
#16. Saturday Dinette’s SD 80/20 Fall Burger
Suzanne Barr’s double burger gets a gamey kick from ground lamb mixed into the beef. It’s stacked with a parmesan wafer, arugula, frizzled leeks, sweet pickles and tamarind ketchup, all nestled in a sesame challah bun from Dough Bakeshop. $15. 807 Gerrard St. E., 416-465-5959.
#17. America’s The America Burger
Wagyu beef sourced from Grandview Farms is ground and given the all-American treatment with southern-style pimento cheese, puckery green tomato pickle and a bourbon-infused Thousand Island dressing. $26. 325 Bay St., 31st flr., 416-637-5550.
#18. Farmhouse Tavern’s Barnyard Burger
An excellently squishy sesame bun barely contains the chuck and prime rib patty decked out with house-smoked bacon, goat cheese, a sunny-side-up duck egg, iceberg lettuce and smoky mayo flecked with pickled veg. $20. 1627 Dupont St., 416-561-9114.
#19. The Saint’s Saint Cheeseburger
Jesse Vallins grinds chuck and brisket from McGee Farms only once for a steak-like texture, seasons with salt and pepper, then layers on house-made American cheese, dill relish and more beefy flavour with aïoli made from rendered bone marrow. $19. 227 Ossington Ave., 647-350-2100.
#20. Indie Ale House’s The Short Rib Royale Burger
A heaping mound of shredded short ribs braised in the house-brewed breakfast porter tops this gloriously sloppy quarter pounder of Wellington County beef, finished with gruyère, garlic-thyme aïoli and crispy fried onions. $17. 2876 Dundas St. W., 416-760-9691.
#21. The Rude Boy’s The Rude Boy
The namesake burger is layered with house-cured peameal bacon, double-smoked streaky bacon, house-smoked cheddar, a crispy fried egg and pickled onion, kicked up with Blanche de Chambly mustard. $12. 397 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-533-3269.
#22. The County General Riverside’s The County Burger
Brisket, chuck and dry-aged trim are simply seasoned with pepper, then griddled and smeared with creamy remoulade and dijon mustard, heaped with spicy dill pickles, and stuffed in a poppy- and sesame-seed sprinkled milk bun from Thuet. $15. 798 Queen St. E., 416-781-4743.
#23. Dac Biet’s Pho Burger
An unlikely pairing of pho fixings (sautéed bean sprouts, fresh basil and lime) and a fresh-ground patty dolloped with hoisin and Sriracha makes for the ultimate Vietnamese-American comfort food. There’s even a side of pho “jus” for dipping. $6.50. 213 Church St., 416-703-8878.
#24. The Borough’s Borough Burger
The six-ounce all-chuck patty from Beretta Farms comes smothered in aged cheddar, caramelized onions, fatty English-style bacon, a thick slice of beefsteak tomato and a tangy buttermilk-dill sauce, all perched on a house-made brioche bun. $16. 1352 Danforth Ave., 416-901-1429.
#25. The Opera House Grill’s The Shaggy Burger
This massive burger is a greasy spoon classic—a five-ounce griddled beef patty comes topped with tzatziki, bacon, cheddar, fried onions, pickles, lettuce, tomato and giant onion rings. Knife and fork recommended. $8.85. 737 Queen St. E., 647-348-7717.