Hot Plate: Seven smash burgers you need to eat right now

Hot Plate: Seven smash burgers you need to eat right now

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Smash burgers are the crisp, lacy-edged cousins of the classic hamburger—and after an initial surge of them on local menus a few years ago, there’s an ongoing second-coming. The key to a good smash burger is freshly ground meat, a screaming-hot cooking surface, a tender bun (Martin’s potato rolls are a favourite), and simple, quality toppings. There’s usually some American cheese in there somewhere, a mayo-based “special sauce,” pickles, lettuce, tomato and maybe a slice of onion. Bacon and other meaty additions—like a second patty—make an occasional appearance, too. They’re decidedly unfancy, wholly comforting and always reliable. Here, seven of smash burgers you need to eat right now.

A cheeseburger from Extra Burger in Toronto
Photo by Daniel Neuhaus
The one with the extra-thick pickles

1 There’s nothing extra about Extra Burger’s burger, but it’s perfect the way it is. If you plan to get takeout and casually munch the burger on a stroll, you may find yourself having to stop and sit somewhere to appreciate it properly, because it’s just that good. There’s no obvious secret to its brilliance: maybe it’s that the meat is perfectly seasoned, maybe it’s the secret sauce or maybe it’s the extra-thick kosher dill pickle. Simplicity is arguably one of the hardest things to get right, and this place has it down. $7.50 single, $9.50 double. 1265 Dundas St. W. and 269 Dunn Ave.,

The one with the Ghanaian hot sauce on the side

2 Aunt Lucy’s, born as a pop-up in Parkdale, has found a permanent home at the Annex Hotel (and will soon be on the room service menu, in case you needed a staycation). Their scrumptious smash burger is a double called the Accra, named after owner Chieff Bosompra’s hometown. Its toppings are stacked high on top of a perfectly cooked patty in a toasted bun. If you like things spicy, get an order of smoky Ghanaian hot sauce—which is good for dunking the kitchen’s kelewele, fried plantains seasoned with roasted garlic. $10 single, $13.75 double. 296 Brunswick Ave., @auntylucysburgers

The original

3 As far as the smash burger scene in Toronto goes, Rudy is nearing elder statesman status. This spot, open since the summer of 2016, smashes their patties so thoroughly that the delicate, lacy edges would be at home on your grandmother’s coffee table. It’s also the only spot on this list that uses a whole leaf of lettuce, as opposed to the shredded stuff, which helps somewhat in keeping the fillings contained. And don’t leave without trying their poutine. $6.99 single, $9.99 double. Various Toronto locations,

The one with the celebrity chef

4 Matty Matheson has opened a permanent burger joint across from Trinity Bellwoods, and if you’re fortunate, you might just get a glimpse of the man himself at the takeout window. Unlike the other smash burgers on this list, it’s only available as a double and as part of a combo with fries and a choice of drink (Perrier or Coke). It comes on a toasted sesame seed milk bun—no lettuce, no tomato—but with a whole lotta American cheese, a hefty dollop of mustardy Matty’s Patty’s sauce and plenty of chopped pickles. You can also get it with spicy ketchup or pickled jalapeño mayo. $20 combo. 923A Queen St. W.,

Photo by Daniel Neuhaus
The one with a former Aloette chef

5 When you walk into Burger Drops, you’ll see a giant collage with photos of the pop-ups and parties that came before its brand-new bricks-and-mortar location. Owner Greg Bourolias, a former Aloette sous-chef, says his approach is about refined simplicity. Their classic cheeseburger comes with sweet onions cooked on the griddle, while the American—an ode to the backyard burger—is excellent with bacon. Pickled jalapeño cheese fries round out the experience. $7 single, $10.50 double. 116 Atlantic Ave.,

The one worth the drive

6 Rosie’s is a little outside the city, but that shouldn’t stop any burger aficionados. Their smash burgers more than hold their own against anything you’ll find downtown, and there are often featured specials worth making the trip for: when we visited, they had thick, sweet banana pudding topped with a cookie crumble. For a nostalgic burger experience, get one of their rich milkshakes—available in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry—and enjoy while thinking of simpler times. $8 single, $12 double. 61 Lakeshore Rd. E., Mississauga,

The one with waffle fries

7 Happy Burger’s chuck-and-brisket patties are cooked on a chrome griddle and come topped with a thick layer of sliced pickles and plenty of mayo-based, mustard-forward Happy Sauce. You can opt to mix it up with add-ons like bacon or pastrami—and you’d be well advised to tack on an order of Cajun-spiced waffle fries on the side. $7.45 single, $11.45 double. 76 Lippincott St.,