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New Yorker looking for a good burger...

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Okay Toronto chowhounders, I'm a transplanted New Yorker looking for a good burger. Of course, I recognize that everyone's opinion on the matter varies, so I'll be as specific as possible. Any help would be much appreciated.

Wanted:

One decent cheeseburger. Ground chuck, fresh enough to be cooked medium-rare... 70 to 30 beef-to-fat ratio. No more than 7 ounces. Greasy...I'm talking fat dripping through the bun greasy. Sesame seed or regular hamburger bun, no kaisers, portugeuse rolls, or any of the like. No fois gras, truffle oil, garlic butter, chipotle mayo, etc... No oversized balls of overcooked beef...no frozen patties... nothing that comes with pickles, onions, lettuce, relish, etc... the freshness of the beef cannot be overstated.

As far as my experience with Toronto burgers so far, I would say that even the highly recommended places seem to take short-cuts. Lick's is just awful, dry, flavorless meat, too focused on toppings; Bymark is too loaded with stuff and loses focus; Fran's, eck...

I'm hoping someone would know of a busy pub-like environment with a high turnover and daily beef and bun deliveries, with a finicky cook who knows how to make a killer burger...

Many thanks!

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  1. Hi nyct, I couldn't mention anything that isn't posted already, you seem to have gotten started with the current list...I have a question for you though, I will be in NY in january and will be posing the question on that board, any tips for me?...thanks in advance!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Recyclor

      No problem.

      Top 3 places.
      JG Melon on 74th and 3rd - Upper East Side institution for many, many years. I've had their greasy burgers sitting next to two different NYC mayors...
      The Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridian on 57th St....they literally built a dive bar into a hotel with faux wood panelling and 2 small staticky tv's from the 80s. Burgers are phenomenal...
      Louis' Lunch in New Haven - Probably best burger I've ever had -- considered the original burger spot in America, owned by the Lassen family since the 1890's...still use the same vertical broiler; no ketchup or mustard available.

      Avoid:
      Corner Bistro - It died in like 2002 when the bankers took over and all the good cooks left.
      DB Bistro Moderne - Daniel should stick to cooking game - his 40 buck burger is like a 5 inch tall meatball in a portugeuse roll...the center of it is filled with foie gras, truffles, and all this other garbage...completely unnecessary...
      Smith&Wollensky - overrated suit hangout.

      1. re: nyctransplant

        Thanks for the info...BTW welcome to T.O... good luck + enjoy with the quest, you are not alone, I'd like to hear your findings...

        Later!

        1. re: nyctransplant

          Oh my , see my review on the Yellow Griffin Pub.....YUM
          A very very good Burger!

      2. I didn't see it on your list, so I am going to recommend the Yellow Griffin Pub on Bloor West at Runnymede.

        http://www.yellowgriffinpub.com/

        The burgers are made fresh to order, they do have a bunch of different "showcase" burgers (e.g. the Sicilian, the Jerk, etc) but you can ignore them and just order it as however you want with whatever cheese you want.

        The one thing re: medium rare. Last time I was there I did ask for medium rare, but I believe that it was a little more done that what I wanted. So I guess stress that with the waitress.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Lazar

          I went here once with high expectations but never even got to sample the food!...one of my all time worst experiences...was a Saturday around 6pm, we sat inside patio was full maybe 1/3 full inside...we (5 of us) ordered a pitcher and placed our burger orders. 20 min's goes by as we chat and the waitress (who was nice) shows up and says it will be an hour before our food arrives because they are backed up, we question her friendily, this means an hour wait for 5 burger platters -- their specialty, and the menu offers nothing harder to make that fired food and salads, we order another pitcher and agree to wait. 10 min's later the manager shows up, we didn't request her or give the indication we were upset even, she says burgers take a while to cook, I agree but suggest something more like 10-15 min cooking time, she starts muttering under her breath and remarks aloud "I will not say what I would like to to people like you!", shocked I press her to say it, she blows up, as if taking our curiosity for how it can take so long after she initiated the conversation personally...bad day or just plain crazy? We were in awe, we had agreed to wait, and thus order more product from her resto in the meantime, and she lost it and became belligerant, we left, tipped the poor waitress who has to work for this monster and vowed to never go back...

          1. re: Recyclor

            this place sounds like home. perfect. it's first on my list.

            1. re: nyctransplant

              ..heheh, I'll bear that in mind...all part of the experience...

            2. re: Recyclor

              Recyclor, i had a very similar experience, waited forevvvvvver for my food , all the other people in the restaurant were getting really roudy because of the bad service, I felt bad for the servers because they just couldnt handle it but they should have stopped seating people if it was too much. Mind you, the burger was good, but not worth the wait in my opinion

              1. re: hungryabbey

                These days, they will tell you when you walk in the door if they're backed up. It seems to be a very popular place with adult sport leagues that will get 40 orders at once.

                When they're not backed up, the burgers are good, the portions substantial, and they're not shy on the flavourings. They swing a mean pint, too.

                1. re: Snarf

                  Yes I did enjoy the burger, but I mean I knew it was a busy spot so I got there at 5 pm on a sunday night so I was just a little surprised.

                  1. re: hungryabbey

                    YellowGriffinPub -- Went for lunch yesterday. There was no wait, and both the Raptors and the Argos were flickering on the old school televisions. Things looked promising. The menu reminded me of Island Burger in Hell's Kitchen - 40 different suggestions and a chicken option. From what I saw on the other tables, the burgers looked fantastic - perfectly proportioned beef to bun, not too many toppings, freshly ground hand formed patty. When the waitress came over (friendly, btw), I ordered a cheeseburger ("You mean the triple cheese fiesta cheesie burger" "Umm, no, just a cheeseburger.") When I asked for it "medium," the response was "No, I'm sorry, we cook all of our burgers well-done. *Health code*." Oh. So 25 minutes later the burger shows up, and sure enough, it looks fantastic but is burnt to a crisp, dry as cardboard, and reminiscent of something you'd see in the lunch line in an episode of Prison Break. I ate half, nodded politely, left a big tip. Moving on...

                    1. re: nyctransplant

                      Oh, I am sorry about your experience....but maybe they have a consistency issue, because the times I have gone (granted only a couple), the meat was juicy and flavourful. By no means was it burnt to a crisp, nor dry.

                      Next time I go, I will try to ask for it medium and report back.

                      1. re: nyctransplant

                        Did you ever find the burger of your NY dreams?

                2. re: Recyclor

                  When we went, the owner came into the restaurant and started berating our (charming) server. She was literally yelling at her in front of all the customers, and other servers. It was uncomfortable. Then she went outside and got her big, hairy dog and brought it into the kitchen, where she deposited it before leaving the restaurant.

                  The concept is good, and the burger was actually quite good. Two big thumbs down on the atmosphere, however.

              2. Hey there- here are a couple of suggestions for you:

                1. Burger Shack on Oriole Park and Eglington- made fresh to order
                2. Mike's Munchies on Bathurst
                3. Wylie's on Yonge Street
                4. Joe Allen's on the danforth- famous for their burgers but they aren't on the menu...home that helps

                1. Rebel House's buffalo & beef burger is pretty darn tasty. I can't recall if the bun is a regular soft hamburger bun or a kaiser. I do remember that it got all squishy from the juices, though.

                  Note of warning: they put a layer of a bbq-type sauce on the bun. Make sure you request without it if you want a pure burger experience. Actually, Rebel House is worth a visit regardless for some of the yummiest pub fare in the city.

                  1068 Yonge Street
                  http://www.rebelhouse.ca/

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    I like Rebel House's burger - but it's on a kaiser: http://www.rebelhouse.ca/

                  2. Golden Star in Thornhill. Bit a of a trek but worth it.

                    Check out this link:

                    http://www.toronto.com/restaurants/ar...

                    But from experience - Golden Star is the hands down winner.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: MindGrinder

                      With the Golden Star, just note that they carry 2 burger versions...a standard frozen patty or a homemade patty....its the homemade (& more expensive) version that people are raving about. Onion rings are also good here.

                      1. re: T Long

                        The homemade cheeseburger at Burger Shack is what you're looking for. They will cook it medium and put on whatever topping you want.

                        The perfect "burger joint" burger. Check it out.

                        1. re: acd123

                          wood oven grill in kensigton market makes an awsome organic burger as rare as you want it with your pick of topings on a straihgt up bun. very good. golden star is terrible in my opinion, don't waste your time going all the way up there.

                          1. re: acd123

                            Tried the homestyle cheeseburger at Burger Shack today... It's starting to seem as if there was one guy who had a burger recipe in Toronto many years ago and everyone's been using it ever since... not to suggest they're terrible, they're just *ok* - and certainly should not be on anyone's best-of list in a city of so many millions. The patties at the Shack are shipped frozen and thawed day-of - they do not grind in-house; it's not a good sign when you see the wax paper patty separator as the guy grabs the next tray from the fridge. The patty itself was just that - a patty - though not enough salt and a little too much pepper. The burger was slightly redeemed by the freshness of the available ingredients - the tomatoes looked good, a nice, deep greenhouse red, onions were freshly sliced with no browning, as were the pickles. But the meat was too lean, too thin, and overcooked, and as such, you invariably end up with what seems to be the Toronto standard for burgers - overcooked, charcoal-y backyard taste with too much focus on toppings.

                            Allen's on the Danforth is my next stop. From what I've read, the guy seems to be on the money.

                            1. re: nyctransplant

                              THAT'S WHY I TOLD YOU TO GET THE "HOMEBURGER" at Burger Shack!!!

                              There are two kinds of burgers at Burgershack. The regular and the homeburger. The homeburgers are FRESHLY GROUND and they cook them to whatever doneness you want.

                              Of course the regular burgers are frozen and pretty much suck in every way.

                              Go back and do it right this time.

                              1. re: acd123

                                No, it was the homeburger I got. It was about $4.10, left side of the menu board. The patty was thawed out and cooked on the grill. The regular burgers, which were about a buck cheaper and listed as "from our charbroiler" looked disastrous, and only one guy in the line of six ahead of me risked it. Regardless, even the, ahem, freshly ground homeburger was just ok.

                                1. re: nyctransplant

                                  Okay, I have another suggestion for you. I like the Burgershack burger but I had a burger a few weeks ago that I think you'll love.

                                  A place called Weezie's, at the corner of King St. E. and Power St., which is one block East of Parliament. It's a little neighbourhood bistro kinda place, and the burger at Weezie's was freshly ground and super juicy.

                                  I usually stay away from burgers at 'proper' restaurants (I usually stick to the greasy spoon-style burgers) but the burger as Weezie's is an exception (The burger at Allen's is also an exception). Restaurants seem to always mistake thick for flavourful. They are mostly dry and flavourless. Even the $30 burger I had at One last weekend was less than stellar.

                                  Have the burger at Weezie's and let me know what you think.

                                  See the thread below regarding the burger at Weezie's.

                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/398826

                                  1. re: acd123

                                    While Weezie's is my favourite burger in town, it's sooooo not what nyc is looking for. The fat doesn't drip from the bun. It isn't a pub. It is simply a great banquetburger made from beautifully fresh and well chosen ingredients by a delightful chef who makes comfort food incredibly well.

                      2. Disregard all other advice. You want a hamburger in GTA, the only place to go is the Fire Pit in Mississaugua.

                        1. nyc - I was in the same position as you when I moved back to Toronto from the Upper East Side six years ago. And after an extensive burger mission I realized: it's really hard to find a good burger in Toronto... (Though I think that's largely true of anywhere).

                          That said, based on what you've said you're looking for, I think Allen's (http://www.allens.to/allens) is your best bet. I believe they use Cumbrae beef and the atmosphere is not dissimilar to J.G. Mellon's (which is my "go to" NYC burger FWIW). As mentioned above the burger is barely noted on the menu so you have to ask for it specifically.

                          The Rebel House is a pretty solid option as well though I personally don't care for the buffalo/ beef mix they use.

                          Happy chowing, let us know how it goes!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Chicken Teriyaki Boy

                            went to golden star last saturday. disappointing.

                            the place is filthy. grimy bar in the dining room. grease coated floor.

                            they have combo, burger, fries, soft drink, but charge you more if you replace the soft drink with bottled water.

                            my advice.......... don't trek there. not worth it

                            1. re: Vern Ryerse

                              I never understand this one, Golden Star has never been dirty, ever! The confusion lies in its old decor, it hasn't changed much from when it originally opened a good 40 yrs ago. Old does not equal dirty, they do an amazing job keeping the place clean considering the amount of traffic they get. The floor is brown coloured, but it's not greasy.

                              The burgers, are classic traditional burgers, nothing fancy, just fresh toppings. They are heavy on the garlic, which is a turnoff for some but I'm a fan. The homeburger w/ bacon and cheese is just right for me, sometimes I split fries/onion rings w/ someone, but attempting to finish it on your own in combination w/ your burger is sleep inducing.

                              http://www.flickr.com/photos/aser/162...

                              I also have to second Allen's as the best overall burger in Toronto. Golden Star is my sentimental fav as I've been going since I was a teenager.

                          2. i also love the yellow griffin
                            but if your in kensignton market or roncesvalles
                            the freshwood grill (yes wood burning oven)
                            makes a great burger.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: monkeyinthemiddle

                              ...as I remaqeked above, yellow griffun is off my list, but I agree with you on Freshwood Grill, my fave by far, the only burgerin TO I crave!

                            2. Welcome to TO. It will be hard to replace or come close to your NYC experiences. I love Toronto dining but it's tough to match the extensive choice, quality and energy of one of the best food cities in the world. That said, here are a couple fav burgers in my humble opinion. First, try Mark Cutrara's take on the burger at Cowbell in Parkdale. His is a meat-lovers special that focuses on the beef, a bit high-end at $20 but worth it and you'll have no trouble getting it med-rare either. Second, for a good old pub burger try The Longest Yard on Mt. Pleasant Rd. Enjoy.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Bohedo1

                                Cutrara has good pedigree with his stint at JK, and I remember reading about his trips to NYC for inspiration a short while back in Toronto Life. Cowbell, Allen's, and the Yellow Griffin seem to, in print, be closest to what I'm looking for, and I'm excited about the trips.

                                1. re: nyctransplant

                                  Add Freshwood Grill (http://www.freshwoodgrill.com/) to your list. This thread got me craving a burger so I decided to check out the Kensington location.... And damn if I didn't get what was very probably the best restaurant burger I've ever had in this town.

                                  They were having trouble with their heat and the only warmth being generated seemed to be coming from the wood burning grill (which was fine since I was on my way home and getting my food to go). I ordered a burger ($6) with cheddar and bacon ($1 each). Burgers seem to be hand formed ground beef (from Berretta Organic Farms according to the menu). Definitely not frozen patties! Cooking process was a little slower than normal on the wood burning grill but but the burger came perfectly medium rare, had a hint of smokiness and was served with a little red onion, tomato, some kind of mayo and a perfectly toasted (and maybe lightly buttered?) bun which complimented the burger nicely and was not overbearing or distracting in the least. Simple. Juicy. Unpretentious. Good.

                                  Anyway, VERY nice first impression. Not sure how consistent this place is but I will definitely return to find out.

                                  1. re: Chicken Teriyaki Boy

                                    Freshwood has to be the most inconsistent place i have ever been. Both locations have had decent, and horrible food, at the same time, never the same staff cooking, ordered a rare steak and medium burger, got a mw steak and rare burgur, other times, have had charcoal burgers. Oh, and Freshwood? The Kensington location might have a wood grill, but the Ronces doesn't, despite all the reviews lining the walls, it is a standard gas grill.

                                    1. re: chaos44

                                      That wood burning grill is the only thing setting them apart, and it is awsome for burgers, as long as they don't screw it up like you have experienced chaos44, luckily I've had pretty good luck there...

                              2. Allen's burger is really, really good. A proper, classic North American burger. The quality of Cumbrae's beef is unsurpassed in the city, and Allen's does the grinding on-site, which means you can order it as rare as you like it. They keep the seasoning pretty simple I believe, probably little more than salt and pepper (unlike a lot of places, the meat actually tastes good on its own!).

                                The bun is a straight-up, decent white hamburger bun (and not too large either). The choice of toppings is simple: it comes with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions by default; for cheese, you can order cheddar, blue, or chevre; other options are fried onions or mushrooms.

                                Allen's fries are done in the wide-cut style (which isn't my favourite), but they are good. You can order either Yukon Gold or sweet potatoes fries, or a mix of the two.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: cybergod

                                  I also do enjoy Allan's burger, it has a nice beefy taste to it and it is quite thick and juicy. They will also cook to your specifications which is nice. I do however, think their hamburger bun is too flimsy and does not do the thickness of the burger justice. In a pinch, I also enjoy Epicure's burger which is closer to home on Queen Street west. The beef is not as good, but it is nicely grilled and comes with a sturdy bun.

                                  1. re: deabot

                                    I think you should check out Weezie's also. My husband use to love Allen's but feels it has gone down hill, he now prefers Weezie's.

                                2. Ya know, its more of a fast food burger (OK it IS a fast food burger) but I LOVE the Square Boy Homemade Banquest Burger with the works. 100% beef on a soft toasted hamburger bun, process cheese, bacon, onions, tomato, relish, mustard and ketchup. Yuck! er, I mean Yum!!!!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: bluedog

                                    Had a banquet burger, chocolate shake and onion rings at Dairy Freeze on St. Clair West this weekend. Not bad although certainly not haute-burger by any stretch. Process cheese but real (and generous) bacon. The milkshake was one of the better ones I've had in the city and added bonus it's open late (until 4am on weekends).

                                    1. re: bluedog

                                      This is a late addition to an already long thread, but figured it would be better to reply to this than start a new one.

                                      Went to Square Boy yesterday and really wanted to like it but wasn't impressed.

                                      Pros: Really old school, licenced (and cheap!!), and homemade milkshakes. And they even have parking (!!!). Our food was cooked to order, and for the price, that's awesome.

                                      Cons: I would swear that the homemade burger had quite a bit of filler (i.e. breadcrumbs), the fries were frozen, and the gravy was cornstarch gluey (I prefer the texture of flour thickened gravy).

                                      1. re: Olivia

                                        2010 update on Square Boy: Wanted to like it too because we live so close to it. Burger was disappointing but chicken souvlaki was awesome (yes, i got both!)

                                    2. What about Apache's on Dundas West? Haven't been in many many years. Has anyone been recently? (Is it even still there??) I remember it being quite good.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: littlegreenpea

                                        Personally I love APACHE BURGER...but I don't consider it a great burger...I liken it to all the other burgers of my childhood...I also think the onion rings are great...

                                        1. re: BloorWestie...

                                          though I still love the IDEA of Apache Burger, the reality seems to be losing some lustre.We have been going there for 35 years but the last time we went we had the impression that the owners (both husband and wife work behind the counter) seemed exhausted. My sister in law who also went there after a date 30 years ago, said the same thing. Burgers don't taste the same...guys behind the counter not full of the same energy they used to be.

                                        2. re: littlegreenpea

                                          The thing about Apache burger is that their buns are not the greatest, but the meat and the sauce is good. The onion rings are to die for. When I go there for late night cravings, I usually just eat the patty and toppings and throw away the bun.

                                          I prefer Utopia, Yellow Griffin and that little place in Kensington with the wood stove. (although stay away from the washrooms in that place... shudder!)

                                        3. The Paddock's burger blew my mind the other night. Bathurst south of Queen.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: flipp

                                            If you don't mind going upmarket, the Gallery Grill at the Four Seasons Hotel makes a great burger.

                                            1. re: zoezer

                                              I would have to add Magoo's on Royal York and Dundas to the debate here. You can request the burger to be cooked less than well done. Options are 4oz, 6oz. You can add toppings to your likings. Fries are yummy too.
                                              Not sure if they are the best burgers, but the place is a definate neighbourhood favourite.

                                              1. re: pancake

                                                I would have to disagree with you. Magoo's is way overrated.Apache is decent, but I would say not up to par of what was even 5-10 years ago.

                                                1. re: pancake

                                                  Magoos makes a great burger and the Goo sauce is a garlicky mayo concoction that gives it a creamy, zesty kick. Don't forget the bruchetta.

                                                  As far as OP's criteria, Magoo's meets few. But a "good" Burger by Torontonian standards has few similarities with this criterea.

                                                2. re: zoezer

                                                  Did you mean the Studio Café? The Gallery Grill is in Hart House, and I don't believe they serve a burger there.

                                                3. re: flipp

                                                  I had a great one there too a few years back, it was off menu along with some great sweet potato fries...

                                                4. Ah, the Burger Joint. What a great place. Very Happy Days ;-)

                                                  I recommend you check out the Senator diner (Victoria Street, south of Dundas, north of Shuter, east side of the street), it's the only place I've found in Toronto that might come close to BJ. And they will cook it medium for you. Coming in second would be Abbott on the Hill (Yonge Street, north of Summerhill, south of St Clair on the west side) and then Rebel House.

                                                  Here's the websites for Senator diner and Rebel House, Abbott doesn't have a website.

                                                  http://www.thesenator.com/

                                                  http://www.rebelhouse.ca/

                                                  Gary: if you're reading this, have you been to the Brasserie? Your wife's burger looked great when we were there for lunch. I didn't try it but she seem to enjoy it! Maybe you can give it a rec if you've been. Their smoked club sandwich was great.

                                                  http://www.brasseriefrisco.com/main.html

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: fickle

                                                    Just visited the Brasserie's website as I do love their burgers. There is an announcement, however, that they are soon being converted into a Jack Astor's (never mind the fact that there's already a location a few blocks down).

                                                    1. re: LTL

                                                      You want a medium-rare burger? Try Intersteer on Roncevalles--an old polish pub that's been given a facelift by the owner's son (a chef.) It's a bit intimidating if you don't speak Polish--but the food is worth it.

                                                  2. Adding some links to the Great Burger Quest. These are for the licensed places mentioned, in keeping with the OP's request for "pub-like" environment, even though some of these are not exactly "pubby".

                                                    -----
                                                    Rebel House
                                                    1068 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W2L4, CA

                                                    Weezie's
                                                    354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA

                                                    Allen's
                                                    143 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1N2, CA

                                                    Cowbell
                                                    1564 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6R1A6, CA

                                                    Yellow Griffin
                                                    2202 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6P, CA

                                                    Abbot on the Hill
                                                    1276 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4T1W5, CA

                                                    Senator
                                                    249 Victoria St, Toronto, ON M5B1T8, CA

                                                    Longest Yard
                                                    535 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S2M5, CA

                                                    Freshwood Grill
                                                    197 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

                                                    Wylie's
                                                    1234 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4T, CA

                                                    Paddock
                                                    178 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M5V2R4, CA

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: JamieK

                                                      Have to say I was at Globe Bistro for lunch the other day and had the burger. It was excellent. Perhaps not exactly what original poster was looking for but it was mighty tasty. I believe they use Cumbrae's beef, plain egg bun, topped with aged cheddar and a shortrib stuffing which was kind of like shredded pork...it was fantastic. My friend had the fries to go with it - heaven.

                                                    2. When in NY, I try to do Shake Shack. Yeah yeah yeah...i know its mildly plaid out. But that being said, when i get back home, the only thing that i find comes close to Shake Shack burgers is Allen's.

                                                      1. ALL these replies and no one has mentioned Dangerous Dan's???? (maybe someone did but I couldn't find it)

                                                        Dangerous Dan's, corner of Broadview and Danforth beside Jilly's (a strip club) serves up some GREASY, thick, heart-stopping burgers.

                                                        http://www.dangerousdansdiner.com/

                                                        Me and a buddy went there in the summer, I had the coronary burger and he had the peameal on a bun. Man we nearly passed out afterwards I kid you not, we were sweating buckets it probably took 5 minutes off my life to have eaten that burger and it was DELICIOUS!!!

                                                        I haven't been lately, I wonder if they got actual seats or if they still use min-van benches for seats? Anyway, classy joint, great food, theres a rippers right next door if you're bored, I mean you really cannot go wrong.

                                                        DD's all the way

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: 50firstdatesguy

                                                          I guess the definition of "classy" is a relative thing...in my two visits to this place, about 8 years ago, we found the food horrible, the atmosphere rough, and the owner talked incessantly about topics we weren't interested in. We tried to be friendly, but he really pushed the envelope. But hey, if YOU like the place, terrific. I'm simply providing an alternate view (in summary...ugh :-))

                                                          1. re: 50firstdatesguy

                                                            For me, Dangerous Dan's is a classic example of quantity over quality, which is why I'm guessing no one has mentioned it. The burgers are huge, yes, but greasy and tasteless.

                                                            1. re: TorontoJo

                                                              Well the OP did say grease dripping off the burger, so DD's was the first place that crossed my mind. :D

                                                              If you're looking for atmosphere I can't imagine many burger joints that have that, plus huge greasy burgers, unless you're talking Wimpy's and their 50's diner motif or something. Every other place is probably the kind of place he explicitly said he's NOT looking for, with the fancy dressings and fusion food offerings.

                                                              1. re: 50firstdatesguy

                                                                Yes but you missed this part of the OP request - Ground chuck, fresh enough to be cooked medium-rare

                                                                1. re: deelicious

                                                                  touche ;)

                                                                  1. re: 50firstdatesguy

                                                                    Allen/Dora Keogh's. End of story. It's exactly what he is looking for.

                                                                    I'll agree that the buns could do a better job holding the burger and they do have a few fancy cheeses you can add as a topping.

                                                                    But the patty, which let's face it is what makes a good burger is second to none. Plus the atmosphere in the pub is great. Best place in the city for a burger and pint IMO.

                                                              2. re: TorontoJo

                                                                If you ever have to use the washroom in DD's you'll never eat there again.

                                                            2. Best burger, Allen's. Hands down.

                                                              http://www.toronto.com/restaurants/li...

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: spiritflare

                                                                I'll second that. I haven't had another burger in the city come close. Plus, Allen's is consistently good.

                                                                1. re: spiritflare

                                                                  Actually, I just had a fantastic burger at the Drake Hotel of all places...they even cooked it medium as per my request, not sure if they would do medium rare though. But it was juicy, tender the bun was good, and the chips weren't bad. I was actually shocked because my experience with meals at the Drake have all been hit or miss (usually miss) so this was a pleasant surprize.

                                                                  1. re: Lazar

                                                                    Gotta love the Drake. Had some misses for sure....but many more successes!

                                                                    1. re: Lazar

                                                                      I've had the Drake burger and it was pretty good. Not pink but not dry. Certainly better than Czehoski (disappointing and bordering on dry), Shanghai Cowgirl (average), Craft Burger (average though the bun was better than others) and Hero (obviously). Heard the Beaconsfield had a good one but i haven't tried it myself.

                                                                    2. re: spiritflare

                                                                      I had Allen's last night and would agree I haven't had anyhing close in Toronto. Cooked to order, lightly seasoned and light years beyonds any other restaurant burger mentioned in this thread (although I haven't tried Yellow Griffen). My new go to place for burgers.

                                                                      Sorry - haven't tried Cowbell either.

                                                                    3. Go to The Roxton - they don't always have the burger on the menu but usually. Soft bun, onions and mushrooms (optional) ... its juicy and well.. .perfect (like most of the food in that place).

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: smook

                                                                        I second the Roxton.
                                                                        http://www.torontolife.com/guide/bars...
                                                                        (It's not really a bar or club.)

                                                                        1. re: grilledcheese

                                                                          You know what, I hate to say it, as I've been a die hard fan of the Roxton for years, but their food has gone downhill. Not drastically mind you, but enough for me to stop recommending the burgers. Honestly, they are NOT what they once were. This started April 2007, and unfortunately the place hasen't been the same since. I don't see the same kitchen staff as I did over a year ago so I suspect it's related to that. Where did you go my beloved cooks? It's really too bad since I love the atmosphere and the servers.

                                                                          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                                                            Living just down the street, I tried to like the Roxton, but between the shoddy service (unless you're a regular), and hit and miss food (the last thing I had there was virtually inedible and not at all what was described on the menu) I've decided not to go back. Ever.

                                                                      2. The Burger Shoppe on Queen East at Broadview. Organic, grass-fed beef. Perfect fries. Yummy dipping sauce. The best and only burger that I will eat, esp. after reading Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma. I would not eat at Dangerous Dan's...same neighbourhoood, opposite ends of the burger spectrum!

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: singe

                                                                          The Burger Shoppe in my humble opinion is a mediocre burger at best. Its a glorified Harvey's burger that might as well be from a fast food chain.

                                                                          I recently happened on the Bellwoods Burger from Bellwoods Diner (Queen and Niagra) and while i think its way too big, the taste is just right. I think this could be top 10 if it sized down. It's cheap though weighing in at $4.50.

                                                                          But yeah, Allan's reign's supreme in this department.

                                                                          Cadillac Lounge also has a 7/10 burger. Its quite juicy and they'll do it up medium for you.

                                                                          1. re: goodcookiedrift

                                                                            Unless Bellwood started to charbq over frying on the hot grill...I cannot imagine it being better than Burger Shoppe. I was sent there once to try their awesome burger and had to file it with tulip for awesome steaks....not for me. I agree Burger Shoppe is just a bit better than Harvey's.

                                                                            Allans is great. Toba is a good burger too.

                                                                            1. re: deelicious

                                                                              I think Burger Shoppe is overrated. It's TINY and mine tasted dried out, and expensive for what you get.

                                                                              Tasty onion rings, though.

                                                                              I love Utopia on College for burgers.

                                                                        2. I don't know if you've found your perfect burger yet, but my choice would be Burger Shack on Eglinton Ave.West (@ Oriole Parkway). Have it with the onion rings. This is NOT where you go for ambiance. Strictly for food. Lick's is the worst burger on the planet, plus the singing makes me suicidal. I am a displaced TOian, living in NY, so where should I go for a burger here?

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: chowgirls

                                                                            I haven't heard singing at Lick's in years. When was your last visit?

                                                                            1. re: Edith S

                                                                              haha me neither, the one on the danforth has the rudest service. Ive only been in a couple times, and it was dead and they were SO slow, just chatted away to eachother while I stood there uncomforably waiting and seemed SO annoyed that I was even in there.

                                                                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                the Lick's lack of singing points to the fact that they no longer hire teenagers these days. I think the last one to have the singing was the Eglinton E location (between yonge and mt. pleasent). I always found it to be a great source of second hand embarassment

                                                                              2. re: Edith S

                                                                                Ummm.....(?)... I can't remember. it was years ago, but not more than 5. I went once and only once.

                                                                                Is there a setting ehre to get emailed if/when someone posts/replies something to you ?

                                                                            2. TULIP- EAST END QueenSt.East at Coxwell

                                                                              I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that popular east end steak house "The Tulip"
                                                                              they cut and grind their own meat there. It's always fresh because of the high turnover and I know you can get it cooked to your specifications. I always found the ample size burger very juicy and delicious, however, I have not eaten there recently. Perhaps
                                                                              another Chowhound could comment about their burgers of late.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: fruglescot

                                                                                THE TULIP BURGER-A LATE SCRATCH
                                                                                .I will, unfortunately, have to withdraw my recommendation of the Tulip's burger
                                                                                Good sources (A former waitress there told me today that SYSCO trucks are making regular stops at the loading entrance behind the restaurant)
                                                                                ALL BETS ARE OFF.
                                                                                The dearly departed 'DIAMOND' would not be pleased with this development
                                                                                or by the little dictator named Pauline who is running the place now.

                                                                                1. re: fruglescot

                                                                                  APOLOGIES TO THE TULIP
                                                                                  "THE TRUTH WILL OUT" as that old saying goes. Although it's true about the Sysco trucks stopping at the Tulip a 'CURRENT waiter there who I work with has revealed that the Tulip gets their meat from CHICAGO 58 and not SYSCO and still in fact grind their own meat, so as to provide customers with a 6 OZ and a 9 OZ burger selection.
                                                                                  Still worthy of a try.nyctransplant

                                                                                  1. re: fruglescot

                                                                                    Hey frugle, I'm confused. Chicago 58 sells deli products. To the best of my knowledge, they do not sell raw meat to anyone. The mystery goes on.

                                                                                    BTW, will the Tulip serve a burger cooked rare or medium rare?

                                                                                    1. re: embee

                                                                                      I don't know about the whole where the meat is from but i took a friend there and we both endulged in their big ass 9oz with mushrooms and onions. i have to say it was so-so on it.. yeah they'll do medium and rare but half way through I hit a bit of gristle that just threw me off. Even without the gristle though, the burger was sort of blah .. lot of meat, not much flavour.

                                                                                      1. re: smook

                                                                                        It is tough to find any meat that is particularily good at the Tulip. It is a special place that just works for people....somehow.

                                                                              2. Had a pretty good burger at ACME burger on the Queensway (735 The Queensway). Nothing super-fancy, but big and juicy.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: gps_shag

                                                                                  Well its better than Johnnys anyway....

                                                                                  1. re: deelicious

                                                                                    "Johnny's"....the Pizza Pizza of burgers!

                                                                                    1. re: fruglescot

                                                                                      thats the one! But I wouldn't even go that far.

                                                                                    2. re: deelicious

                                                                                      I wondered how long it would take for Johnny's to get mentioned!

                                                                                      I worked across the street as a teenager; I must have eaten 1,000 Johnny burgers. It is was it is; less expensive than a big mac, honestly grilled, great choice of toppings, a bun with substance; I'm not saying it's Allen's (and Lord, how I miss Toby's!), but for the price, it's not a bad deal.

                                                                                      Of course, I love the place because after finishing university, and moving to Ottawa for four years (the worst 10 years of my life, BTW), I came back to Toronto, and headed to Johnny's. John took one look at me, and said "Hey, Texaco - cheeseburger?".

                                                                                  2. One of (if not THE) best Burger Experiences I've had in Toronto was at the George Street Diner (129 George Street - near Jarvis and Adelaide). It was simple and cheesy and greasy and amazing. It's a cool little joint that doesn't take it's "diner" status lightly. One of the few times that a simple burger experience blew my mind.

                                                                                    Also, the Drake Burger is really what you seem to be craving (minus the pub atmosphere - although the cafe isn't TOO far off). What they serve there is fresh Kerr Farms natural beef on a toasted sesame bun with house-made Russian dressing, aged cheddar and two strips of crispy bacon. No tomato, no lettuce, no onion......and if you request MEDIUM RARE. It's lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. I know for a fact that the turnover rate is HIGH so they're getting fresh beef and buns almost daily! Simple - what more do you want?

                                                                                    1. I'm back! 10 lbs heavier, but none the worse for wear. Alright, I've gone to about 80% of the spots in this thread - from fire pits in nearer mississauga to hipsters at drakes, strollers at freshwood, griffin's, senator's, long yard's, too many to mention; my cardiologist is submitting the complete list to science.

                                                                                      That said, nowhere in Toronto compares to Allen's.

                                                                                      The beef is excellent, fresh, the bun perfectly proportioned, the size of the burger approximately 7 oz; it is greasy, but not too greasy, outstanding. You can pair it with over 200 types of single malt scotch. The only complaints - while they had gorgonzola, blue, and chedder (which is bland and not aged well), they did not offer plain american processed cheese. With its ridiculously high salt content, processed cheese slices work magic on burgers; the only thing that tops it is what Louis' Lunch does in New Haven - CheezeWhiz spread on Texas Toast. Killer. If I had to find one other gripe about Allen's, it would be their Ontario-only wine list. While it's a nice, homey touch, Ontario wine sucks almost as bad as New York wine, so I'm a try to smuggle something old country or napa on my next trip.

                                                                                      It wasn't until I got there that I learned that Allen's was opened by a guy from NYC - a NYC Transplant, if you must, who worked at the only decent franchised NYC burger bar - PJ Clarke's - and wanted to open a pub in Toronto in the New York tradition - blue collar gastro pub. Well done.

                                                                                      Thanks to everyone.

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: nyctransplant

                                                                                        nice to hear you found your burger nirvana in TO but I disagree with you that Ontario wines suck.

                                                                                        1. re: JamieK

                                                                                          Allens is certainly the best I've had as well. I have no idea why one would want to ruin such a beautiful burger with processed cheese (or even worse Cheese Whiz) but still insist on a nice inported wine to go with it, but to each his own I guess.

                                                                                          For my money, I'll go to Dora Keogh's (which shares the kitchen with Allens) on Sunday afternoon during the celtic music sessions. Medium rare burger with blue cheese and bacon and a lovely pint of Guiness!

                                                                                          1. re: badbhoy

                                                                                            badbhoy - is Dora's the restro just up from Allen's where they do psychic readings every other Saturday? I was asking about this when I responded to this thread with my own "I love Allen's burgers" message...

                                                                                            I am quite curious to try it out and sounds like it may be the place...

                                                                                            1. re: xssnrg

                                                                                              Dora Keogh's is the Irish pub right next door to Allen's. They share a kitchen so the menu items at Allen's are also available at Dora's.

                                                                                              1. re: badbhoy

                                                                                                Thanks!

                                                                                        2. re: nyctransplant

                                                                                          I agree that Allen's burgers are the best. But you are wrong about Ontario wine. There are Ontario wines that are good, and even spectacular. Unfortunately, good Ontario wines tend to be expensive, and many of the best are only available at the wineries.

                                                                                          BTW, the owner of Allen's, John Maxwell, is (I believe) actually a Brit. He had managed the London (UK) branch of Joe Allen's (which is based in NY) and later moved to Toronto. A friend of mine actually worked for him in London in 1980.

                                                                                        3. Utopia on College St.

                                                                                          1. Marvelous Edibles on Laird. Awesome burger - chef raises the beef on his own farm... will cook to order...

                                                                                            1. Regardless of how trendy it is.
                                                                                              The Drake hotels : Drake Burger is amazing...Served Rare..organic beef, aged chedder, bacon....OMG

                                                                                              Although i suggest ordering from the caffe.. Prices are high in the dinning area

                                                                                              1. This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but have you tried the Bow and Arrow and Yonge and Davisville? They have a 'burger matrix', with various patty (beef, bison, veggie etc.) & topping (regular, cheese etc.) options . My favourite is the guacamole & mushroom beef burger. The rest of the menu is pretty decent too.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: abhryll

                                                                                                  Okay don't quote me on this one because it comes second hand but.....I've heard that The Steak Pit on Avenue Road does a very good burger. Can anyone confirm this? Their steak and ribs aren't much to write home about but someone told me they do a good burger. Could this be how they've managed to remain open all these years?

                                                                                                2. I have been on a quest for a great burger for a long time myself. One place I discovered last summer is THE BOARDWALK CAFE on the lakeshore at the beach.

                                                                                                  1681 Lake Shore Blvd. E, (416) 694-8844

                                                                                                  Their burgers are flame broiled and about an inch thick. They are juicy and not greasy at all. They do them exactly how you ask and the price is on the money for sure. They are also licensed as I much prefer my burgers with a pint than a soda.

                                                                                                  I was originally dragged in there by a friend and was very reluctant because I am not a fan of bar food at all, but it has now become my fav burger place. And the setting on the beach is awesome. Especially if a beach volleyball game starts up 50 ft from your table.

                                                                                                  ; )

                                                                                                  1. I work near Craft Burger (on King near Bathurst, closer to Portland) and they make what I consider a great burger, for an okay downtown price, and their fries are excellent too. I haven't tried their specialty burgers, I usually just get a plain cheeseburger.

                                                                                                    They also have "organic beef" burgers for an extra buck or something.

                                                                                                    I think they're much better than Hero burger.. My friend thinks otherwise. Meh.

                                                                                                    1. Well I didn't bother to add this reference in the middle of winter, but because we are fast approaching cottage season...finally, I will point you to a post I made last summer. If you ever find yourself travelling north to cottage country on Hwy 35, you must try Sonya's burger. Actually, my memory of this burger is so fine, I might make a special trip just to try it again (summer gas prices could make it my most expensive meal ever though). I'm not sure it's greasy enough for you, but Sonya makes a great, homemade, make you want to lick the plate when you are done kinda burger.

                                                                                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/437633

                                                                                                      1. Now that the snow's melted, there are a few seasonal opportunities available. One that should be starting up soon is the Summerhill Market. They do amazing burgers on a bbq outside the shop, with a very good selection of condiments.

                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Snarf

                                                                                                          Hi! There is a new burger place on Eglinton, east of Bathurst. I think it is called Terragon Burger? It is not open yet but should be very soon. It is an organic burger place! I think that's great! Thought I would mention it! I will post when I find out when it opens!

                                                                                                          1. re: Snarf

                                                                                                            Hey snarf, the grills were outside Summerhill Market this past weekend.

                                                                                                            1. re: Snarf

                                                                                                              I love most of the stuff Summerhill preps on site. Do you know if they just do the grill on the weekend? Or do they offer it some weekday evenings also?

                                                                                                              1. re: dinin and dishin

                                                                                                                I'm pretty sure they do it most weekdays during the afternoon. I think it's a big hit for all the guys doing consruction and renovations in the area. Speaking of Summerhill, they just put out a new product - truffle white bean dip. OMG!!!
                                                                                                                We served it last night as an app on freshly grilled crostini and it was YUM!

                                                                                                                1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                  Just trying the white bean and truffle dip. You are right millygirl. It's wonderful.

                                                                                                            2. What about Hero Burgers? Has anyone tried them? I had a burger from there once and it was good. I'm not a burger expert though and nyctransplant, sounds like you have quite the laundry list! I didn't pay attention to the bun, etc., I just ate it. haha!

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: fooderette

                                                                                                                Search the board for lots of posts about Hero. Some people like it a lot. Most folks here find it utterly revolting.

                                                                                                              2. I had a burger from the Epicure Cafe today. It was up there with one of the best. They have standard burgers and then the goor-met ones. I had a fancy one, the Italian burger that came topped with asiago, wilted spinach and basil pesto. It was seriously delicious. And the juices soaked into the bun.They don't overseason the meat and it was cooked well, but still juicy and not tough. I would def. reco.

                                                                                                                1. My favorites are Allen's as has been mentioned. Ceili Cottage also has amazing burgers on their single "minced" night -- Wednesday. If you go early (e.g. 4pm), you get a nice fat one. Later it gets packed, impossible to get a table, and the burgers start to shrink. They usually run out before 9 pm.

                                                                                                                  1. I haven't read the replies yet, but I did a search for "Beaver" and was surprised not to find The Queen & Beaver down by Yonge/Bay and Elm. I've only tasted their burger once, and I don't know if that was a special fluke or if they always make their burgers like that, but IMHO, that was by far the most delicious burger I've ever tried in Toronto.

                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                    Queen & Beaver
                                                                                                                    35 Elm St, Toronto, ON M5G, CA

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: sepandee

                                                                                                                      All except one other post on this thread are from 2008, which is why the Queen and Beaver isn't mentioned. There are a couple of other recent threads that praise the burger there. :)

                                                                                                                    2. Try The Burger's Priest, just opened Queen E and Coxwell.... the chef spent years researching the best fresh ground beef burger including stints at the best places in NYC. You won't regret it. I want one now! :)

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: frelma

                                                                                                                        Whilst it's the opposite of the busy pub atmosphere the OP was hoping for I second the Burger's Priest for the OP's requirement for "Greasy...I'm talking fat dripping through the bun greasy" and the Burger's Priest's passion about using meat freshly ground in house. Their burgers and fries are truly addictive - I have to restrain myself from going there too often.