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Jun 2, 2008 01:58 PM

Best Burgers in Toronto?

Groucho's on Eglinton and Bathurst. I know this is the second place from that location I've proclaimed as being the best at something. (King Falafel down the street has the johnnyhotsauce best falafel honours). I guess this neighborhood knows its food. I do not even live anywhere near this area.

Groucho's has the freshest ingredients, they hook you up with cheese, fresh grated cheddar and a huge honkin' handful of it too boot. Thick paddies, juicy, fresh buns, beautiful vegetables, mounds of grated cheese (Licks style), and an amazing garlic mayonnaise that gives the burger its award winning taste.

Its hard to choose a best burger, we have all eaten bad burgers and good burgers, but let me know where your personal favorites are and what about them makes them great!?

Thanks people!


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      1. If my schedule permits, I shall try it on Friday. Will report back then.


        1. Are the burgers frozen?

          1. Welcome to Chowhound!

            You seem to focus a lot on the condiments/fixings of the burger -- "mounds of grated cheese (Licks style), and an amazing garlic mayonnaise that gives the burger its award winning taste"

            What about the burger itself? Are they premade/frozen patties? Does Groucho's grind the beef themselves? My issue with burgers in Toronto is the nanny-state requirement of restaurants having too cook ground beef to well-done -- this does not usually make for a tasty, juicy or edible burger - though there may be exceptions. Is Graucho's done this way?

            For my personal tastes, it's the meat and preparation that should (in your words) gives the burger its award winning taste rather than an amazing garlic mayonnaise.

            Can you provide a more fullsome description of the burger itself rather than the fixings

            24 Replies
            1. re: mac n cheeze

              Okay - here's the deal - according to me, anyway! 99.99% of burgers in Toronto are not burgers at all; they are meatloaf. And the only 2 actual burgers I've had in T.O. are Johnnyburgers ok if you're desperate & have practically forgotten what that real thing tastes like. The other is Allen's - GREAT! Great meat, no shmutz in it, cooked how you want it because there are no eggs that have to be cooked into submission before you eat your meatloaf. Great bun, ripe tomatoes, beyond great fries.

              What I can't figure out is how everyone seems to have forgotten what a real burger is - I was here a few years ago & had a Lick's burger - not great, but not meatloaf. And now, not only are all the burgers seasoned - they're all seasoned exactly the same!!! Are they all the same frozen crap?! And if you ask anyone why the burgers have so much stuff in them, they say things like 'you have to hold the meat together' or 'they'd be boring' or 'that's the way they've always been' - I feel like I'm going crazy. And yet, there are a few Torontonians who can appreciate a burger like Allens. Go figure!

              1. re: bialy

                Licks did once serve a great burger - twenty something years ago. Then they got the fast food religion. Their frozen burgers are still edible when I cook them at home and serve them seared outside and medium rare within. Great? Not so much. I find the burgers cooked at Licks to be so overcooked as to be inedible.

                Groucho's on Bayview served delicious burgers when they first opened, but they became awful, overcooked pucks as time passed. I've never been to the one on Eglinton.

                I agree with you about Allen's burgers - .Toronto's best. However, the fries aren't as good as they used to be and don't taste as good as they look. I suspect a switch to Canola oil at some point. I should ask.

                  1. re: Davwud

                    It's a pub on the south side of Danforth east of Broadview. You'll find many comments about Allen's on Chowhound, covering the whole range from love it to loathe it. But they make a great burger. Not cheap.

                    1. re: embee

                      Allen's eh?
                      Right in my backyard and I have yet to try.
                      I see too that James Chatto (whom I have grown to appreciate his opinions more lately) has written them up in Toronto Life in the edition that arrived on my doorstep this morning.
                      I think I will check this out very soon.
                      Quick question...
                      Is this a good plain old-school burger or is it one that is piled with extras?

                      I prefer something simple without the taste being masked so that I can taste the burger.


                      1. re: Poorboy

                        I think you will find it to your liking poorboy. It arrives open faced and if I recall correctly, mustard, relish and ketchup are the only condiments brought to the table.

                        1. re: Poorboy

                          It's about the burger. The addons are superfluous, though the cheeses are real. The ketchup is ED Smith, the mustard is Dijon, and the relish tastes homemade (though it probably isn't). They cook burgers to taste.

                          1. re: Poorboy

                            Poorboy, the Allens burgers were supplied by Royal Beef and may still be. Give me a call sometime and we can head over there to try them out again if you have time for lunch.

                      2. re: embee

                        I agree about Allen's burgers - they are great. I just happen to like my burgers with mushrooms - and I hate that they won't just put these on the burger. (I've asked). Having them arrive on a side plate, just seems kinda pretentious to me. It's a burger. It's a good burger, but it's a burger. I don't need my toppings a la carte. While we're on the subject of really long threads - Allens also has some pretty amazing fish and chips...

                        1. re: embee

                          Licks=barforama. Vile food that has used to be pretty good. The very definition of "gone downhill".

                          1. re: bluedog

                            I would say that Starvey's is the defination of "Gone downhill".


                            1. re: Davwud

                              well did you actually eat a Lick's burger from the original store on Queen St East around 1987 ? If you did and then ate one now, you'd feel like you just fell off the top of Mt Everest! After I tried one from the Lick's at Pape and Danforth soon after they opened, I wanted to toss it in the garbage. Only the name remains the same.

                              1. re: foodyDudey

                                Well in fact, yes I did Mr. Smartypants!!

                                Don't get me wrong, they've fallen a long way. The original Licks was a destination in TO. Now, they're a place to avoid at all costs.

                                My point is that Harvey's has fallen even further. They are no longer edible. Lick's still are. They're just a shadow of their former self.


                        2. re: bialy

                          Allens is the best in Toronto that I've had. I order it medium rare. If you want to really taste the burger, don't order the blue cheese option. It tends to overwhelm the burger since they really pile it on. Great if you're in the mood for blue cheese, otherwise probably a pass. Nothing else I've had comes close to Allens.

                          1. re: Aardvark

                            and they make a killer bloody mary. - perfect with a hamburger for those who've over-imbibed the night before

                          2. re: bialy

                            Went to Allen's last night and try and burger for the first time. dang, it is amazing. defianetly tops!

                            1. re: dimsumyum

                              I find the Allen's burger bland and meaningless at best. If you're going to go pure beef, you best be putting that patty over charcoal.

                              1. re: Googs


                                where do you suggest to go for a pure beef burger over charcoal?

                                1. re: Jamie Eats Burgers

                                  Jamie, if you feel like dropping the cash try Barberian's at lunch.

                                  If you're out Port Hope way try the burger at Zest Bar & Bistro. In fact, even if you're just driving along the 401 to anywhere down east, forget about the service station, pull off the highway, and go to Zest. It's so refreshing to finally find a place in a small town that isn't afraid of flavour. It's a lovely space with a large back patio and a free parking lot. Now you have no excuses.

                                  7 Elm St, Toronto, ON M5G1H1, CA

                                  1. re: Googs

                                    Yes, I have heard of barbarians burger. Its on my list of burgers to try.

                                    as far as zest, its tough to get out there, but I will actually be out that way on Labour day, I'll check if they are open.

                                    1. re: Jamie Eats Burgers

                                      I had the burger at Barberians earlier this week and not surprisingly, it's the best I've ever had. Cooked to medium, the meat was deliciously pink inside a dark crust and on a bun that stood up to its juiciness, eating it was decadent, sinful and rapturous.

                                      With a $100 wine, your burger is a buck.

                                      1. re: eller

                                        With a $100 wine, the burger should be free.
                                        Burgers go best with beer though!

                                2. re: Googs

                                  It's interesting how differently we view flavours. When I make a fresh burger at home, I'll sometimes load it up internally with strong herbs and spices, garlic, sauteed onion, and a big chunk of cheese. I rarely make it plain.

                                  At other times, when I'm feeling energetic, I'll grind myself cuts like brisket, chuck, skirt, and short rib mixtures. These are better sparingly seasoned, since the meat flavors are strong

                                  I can enjoy a Licks Burger, though only when it's cooked at home, by me. I even put spicy Guk on it, but I can no longer masticate and swallow the burgers served at today's Licks.

                                  What I like about Allen's is that it always tastes like beef - good beef. As best as my palate can tell, they add no seasonings, possibly not even salt (which I would never omit myself). It comes blood rare to hard gray, as ordered, It's juicy and flavourful, certainly basic, but never bland.

                              2. re: bialy

                                Bialy, I completely agree. To be honest, I do not think I ever had a burger I really enjoyed when I lived in Toronto last year. I tried Groucho's on Eglington and to me, it was actually the worst! I couldn't finish it. I ended up dissecting the thing, hoping that the toppings were causing the foul taste, but ended up eating them alone with the bun because the hamburger itself was so jam-packed with crap that you couldn't taste the meat- which only fueled my suspicion about Toronto ground beef, which started with a general city-wide refusal to serve a hamburger less than med-well. What ever happened to a simple and delicious great-tasting patty?