Toronto’s top 10 burgers, according to a guy who has tried 187 of them, and counting
Early last year we featured a Toronto man who had made it his mission to eat a burger every day for a year. Not all heroes wear capes. And it turns out, he’s not alone in the search for Toronto’s perfect patty. Michael Nusair—filmmaker by day, burger blogger by night—has eaten 187 of the GTA’s burgers, documenting and rating each one on his blog, appropriately named, Tasty Burgers.
“I started because I love burgers, and I was frustrated that whenever I’d read a review for a burger place, it would inevitably spend one sentence on the patty itself,” says Nusair. “I want way more information than that: how’s the grind? How has it been cooked? Is it over- or under-seasoned? What’s the flavour like? Eventually, I decided that if no one else was going to do it, I’d just have to do it myself.” And, seven years later, he’s still going strong. Here, Michael Nusair’s top 10 burgers.
10 “Griddled burgers have become so ubiquitous in Toronto that a good grilled burger is almost a novelty. Griddled patties are great, of course, but sometimes you want that smoky char you can only get from the grill. Skyline Restaurant, which seriously upped their game when they changed ownership a couple of years ago, is the best in the city for this style of burger.” 1426 Queen St. W., 416-536-3682, @theskylinerestaurant
9 “A lot of barbecue joints in Toronto have a great burger on the menu—The Carbon Bar stands out by incorporating actual barbecue in the burger itself. The Carbon Bar’s Brisket Cheeseburger is topped with tender, ultra-smokey slices of beef brisket. I’m normally not a fan of extravagantly-topped hamburgers, but even a purist like me can’t deny that what they’re serving here is delicious.” 99 Queen St. E., 416-947-7000, thecarbonbar.ca
8 “The Federal’s Five Guys Burger is another one of those kitchen sink numbers that, at first glance, looks cluttered with superfluous toppings—but it works. Even with bacon, cheese, pickles, multiple sauces and caramelized onions, the gloriously beefy patty still shines through, and that’s no small feat.” 1438 Dundas St. W., 647-352-9120, thefed.ca
7 “It’s hard to imagine this now, but before the Burger’s Priest opened their first location in 2010, finding a decent griddled hamburger in Toronto was surprisingly difficult. Without the Priest, the burger trend probably wouldn’t have hit the city as hard as it did; it’ll always have a special place in my heart for that alone. And though I think the quality has gone downhill since the heady days of their lone east-end outpost, it’s still pretty great.” Various locations, theburgerspriest.com
6 “You wouldn’t necessarily expect the burger at Batch, a corporate brewpub, to be as great as it is. But the cheeseburger here, made with dry-aged beef, is far, far better than it has any right to be. Even if you have no interest in beer, it’s still worth a visit for the hamburger alone.” 75 Victoria St., 416-238-1484, batchtoronto.com
5 “It’s kind of sad that a sandwich shop is putting so many dedicated burger joints to shame, but that’s exactly what Kitson and Co. is doing. Their classic double cheeseburger is as delicious as it is substantial. Bring your appetite.” 1205 Queen St. W., 416-533-1205, kitsonandco.com
4 “Holy Chuck and the Burger’s Priest are the OGs of the new-wave smashed-and-griddled burger joints in the city. And while they’re both quite good, these days I have to give the edge to Holy Chuck. In particular, their namesake burger is a greasy, gooey mélange of tender beef, melty cheese and sweet caramelized onions. It’s amazing.” 1450 Yonge St., 416-962-4825; plus two other locations, holychuckburgers.com
3 “Is the burger at Bymark absurdly expensive? Yes. But is it also absurdly good? You bet. It’s easy to quibble with the $40 price tag—until you take a bite. It’s big, beefy, and luxurious, and manages to have an amazing, steak-like richness while retaining all of the other qualities that make a burger so great.” 66 Wellington St. W., 416-777-1144, bymark.mcewangroup.ca
2 “Museum Tavern serves the type of Big-Mac-inspired concoction that you can get at so many restaurants around the city, so you’d think that it wouldn’t be anything special—and you’d be dead wrong. If you’re going to get a Big-Mac pretender, this is absolutely the one to get. It’s one of those rare hamburgers where I wouldn’t change a single thing.” 208 Bloor St. W., 416-920-0110, museumtavern.ca
1 “I frequently get asked which I prefer: Holy Chuck or the Burger’s Priest. But ever since Rudy opened a couple of years ago, I have an easy answer: neither. The correct answer to this, and to any question regarding where the most delicious burger can be procured in Toronto, is Rudy. Rudy makes the Platonic ideal of the smashed-and-griddled style of hamburger. It’s everything you want it to be: the patties are immensely juicy and tender, with a picture-perfect mahogany-brown crust and a face-punch of amazing beefy flavour. The cheese? Gooey American, of course. And the bun is soft, squishy and slightly sweet; it’s perfect, just like every element of this outstanding burger. 619 College St., 647-748-7839, rudyresto.com