Introducing: The Works on the Danforth, the first Toronto location of the cult fave Ottawa burger chain
After 10 years in the burger biz, The Works has finally made it to Toronto. Hailing from the nation’s capital, the award-winning chain with an impassioned following is now set to give the city’s million other burger joints a run for their money. The Danforth spot is the first on the map, with other Hogtown locations already in the works (no pun intended). We met up with Danforth franchisee Zaki Zahur and CEO and “chief burgerhead” Andy O’Brien to get the scoop on the eatery and its 70 burgers.
Perched on the corner of Danforth and Dewhurst, the restaurant features a two-tiered layout with a sort of urban factory feel. Up front, garage doors create an insta-patio, while inside, brick and wood are paired with exposed pipes and industrial lighting. A Bloor Street Viaduct mural is a nod to the area, while a refreshing lack of TVs encourages chatter. The soundtrack—whose fine tuning O’Brien tells us involves a crew sitting down with some beers—features classic rock ’n’ roll and blues picks.
Each location’s menu is meant to “reflect the fabric of the city,” O’Brien says, with the Toronto version featuring some picks named after local figures: Ben Mulroney dubbed his the Benny Piggenbeef, while Kenny Hotz got particularly creative, settling on the Kenny. The lengthy menu may intimidate some, but we’re assured that staff will gladly do a walk-through. First and foremost, diners select a patty; options include pure ground beef, ground turkey, veggie and domestic elk. Zahur says, “We treat the beef patties like steaks, cooking them to 160 degrees over an open flame and leaving a trace of pink.” After the bun is chosen, it’s time to sort through the 70 toppings, a process that can also benefit from a little server help. The Taste of the Danforth—MPP Peter Tabuns’ number one pick—stars fresh tomato, red onion, tzatziki sauce and oregano ($12.68); the Three Ring Binder features sautéed field mushrooms, chipotle mayo and Gouda, and is topped with three onion rings ($13.96). Sadly, the Stanley Cup Burger, as it’s rather smugly noted, has not been available in the GTA for 45 years.