What’s on the menu at Friday Burger Co., chef Joe Friday’s new Danforth burger joint
Including Nashville hot chicken, crinkle-cut fries and milkshakes
Name: Friday Burger Co.
Contact: 2162 Danforth Ave., 416-425-9881, fridayburgercompany.com, @fridayburgerco
Neighbourhood: The Danforth
Chef-owner: Joe Friday
Accessibility Three steps at the entrance
Last time Toronto Life checked in with chef Joe Friday, he was operating a private catering business. Friday would set up in his clients’ homes and make mochi fried chicken (he grew up in Japan) or camp out in their backyards with a portable pizza oven.
You can still book Friday for private affairs, but his newest endeavour is more casual and accessible: a burger joint, bringing his North Carolina heritage to Toronto via Nashville fried chicken, Southern-accented burgers, and diner-style sides like Mississippi mud pies and hand-spun milkshakes.
Friday’s infatuation with burgers has been a lifelong affliction. He was an army kid, with a childhood spent in transit. His family moved back to the States when he was in his teens, and the first time he bit into an American hamburger was a life-changing moment. “I thought, Wow, this is crazy.”
And he’s had a long path to perfecting his burger. Friday spent the past few years travelling across the country, eating and reviewing burgers as a form of R&D. (We talked to him about his travels and got him to give us his top 10 patties—stay tuned for that list later this week.)
His first burger counter opened last month inside CIBC Square’s fancy new food hall, Table Fare and Social. “But I can’t play country music there because I share the space!” says Friday—hence his new stand-alone shop where he can control the playlist.
Friday Burger Co. offers a menu of smash burgers, fried chicken and fry-based sides. The signature Friday Burger combines different cuts of beef (short rib, brisket, sirloin) from Woodward Meats. The meat is aged, ground and given to Friday to grill. Instead of trendy paper-thin smash patties, he opts for a method he calls the “California smash”: the burger still gets a hard kiss on the grill to form a crust, but it’s a thicker patty. “I really wanted to keep the meatiness of the burger—you don’t get that with most smash burgers,” says Friday.
And pay attention to the pickles: “I engineer them specifically for my burger,” says Friday. “Making your own pickles allows you to control all the flavour.” He makes a brine, heats it, cools it down and slices fresh cucumbers into it. The mixture then sits overnight. “They’ve got this fresh-but-bitter, sour, vinegary punch,” he says, “which is necessary when there’s cheese and a buttery bun.”
For his plant-based option, Friday makes a pulled-mushroom mix using dehydrated portobello, porcini and shiitake. “We live in a world where we want to eat healthier and be conscious of what we eat, so I wanted to make mushrooms really good,” says Friday of his meat-free patty, which is finished with a blanket of pimento cheese.
Friday’s menu finishes strong with Mississippi mud pie and banana pudding inspired by NYC’s Magnolia Bakery. The mud pie is made with chocolate pudding, whipped cream, butterscotch and a sprinkle of Oreo cookies, and the banana pudding is in honour of Friday’s dad. “He knows what’s up—he’s the cake king of North Carolina.”
Beverages include Sapsucker’s maple-sweetened sparkling waters, canned pop and milkshakes—in chocolate, banana cream pie and strawberry cheesecake flavours—made to order in an old-school mixer behind the counter.
The minimalist spot is primarily for takeout purposes, though there are 10 seats for anyone who can’t wait to get home before scarfing down their burger.