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Best $10-20 burger?

Chester Eleganté Mar 27, 2009 12:12 AM

Yes, some may blanch at paying for a burger in the mid-teens, but regardless, it seems like every other bistro is coming out with their own take on the gourmet hamburg. It's the elemental challenge that the chefs like throwing in. I haven’t gotten around to trying them all out yet, but perhaps in time. In the meanwhile, has anyone tucked most of these badboys away? If so, any standouts? Other contenders also appreciated.

Harbord Room $14 – sharp cheddar, caramelized onions on Fred’s egg bun, with fries and a little salad + Berkshire bacon ($2). Recent board favourite.

Nota Bene – $19 - Jennifer’s Stilton beef brisket burger. On a burger blog, the author remarked that "this is the greatest thing I've ever tasted. Best burger in Toronto. I'll fight you if you disagree...seriously."

Allen’s $10, various toppings. Longtime champ. Rare as ya like it.

Weezie’s $14 –with frites – 8oz. beef, cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion. Gets love all around. Medium-rare and juiiicy.

Globe Bistro $15 - Ontario Rib Eye Burger - Northern Woods mushrooms, Québec cheese curds, Niagara pancetta, house made pickles, Yukon gold frites. Fancy new entry.

The Drake $16 - Kerr Farms - bacon, white cheddar, Russian dressing / $18 blue cheese, caramelized onions, house bacon, roast jalapeno & Kozlik’s dijon aioli

Beerbistro $11 – seasoned with belgian ale on a beer buttermilk bun (+ berkshire beer bacon/beer-braised mushrooms/imported guinness cheddar $1.95/1.50/2.75). Solid, tasty burger that gets slept on despite all the beerbistro fans.

EDIT: Okay, so there's another current thread on a similar topic...

  1. s
    Snarf Mar 9, 2010 09:19 AM

    I would put the My Place burgers up for consideration. The longhorn burger has fantastic flavour, and is generally cooked perfectly to order. I would rank it ahead of Allen's, on a similar level with Earth's.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Snarf
      Jamie Eats Burgers Mar 9, 2010 09:50 AM

      snarf,

      is My Place that you speak of the one at 2448 BLOOR ST. WEST ?

      if so, I see the term "longhorn" but it seems to be in a tortilla.

      http://www.myplacepub.ca/dining

      1. re: Jamie Eats Burgers
        s
        Snarf Mar 9, 2010 11:26 AM

        Same meat, both burgers. The one in the tortilla is presented slightly differently and is a bit smaller.

    2. Chester Eleganté Mar 9, 2010 08:27 AM

      Best so far for me is still Harbord Room. Can't really comment on Globe yet, but had a off-putting bite from globe earth's version - weird texture and didn't taste of much. It doesn't resemble though the pics I've seen of Globe's, even though they claim it's the same thing.

      1. m
        madhatt Mar 1, 2010 09:37 AM

        I've recently had the Buffalo Burger at the Rebel House (Rosedale), and would recommend it. Served with delicious kettle fries, and accompanied by a nice selection of local brews. I've had a number of other items on their menu, and it's generally been reasonably priced and tasty.

        For a quick $6 greasy banquet burger, check out Burger Shack at Eglinton and Oriole Blvd. They make their own patties (home burger), and allow you to choose your own toppings (i.e. Harvey's).

        1. w
          wop_genius Feb 22, 2010 07:40 PM

          now at $21 it does not quite make the list but Cowbell's Burger is fantastic. i find it quite large. Dingo farms grass-fed beef. cooked to whatever doneness you like. on a housemade buttermilk bun with sharp quebec cheddar and a big pile of russet fries.
          o and housemade summer sausage on said burger.

          8 Replies
          1. re: wop_genius
            p
            phoenikia Feb 23, 2010 06:51 AM

            Good to know, haven't been to Cowbell for a while. Will have to give their burger a try.

            1. re: wop_genius
              b
              bogie Feb 27, 2010 07:56 AM

              That sounds awesome, will def. have to give it a try. I've said it a few times before in different threads, but my current favourite is the $17 burger at the Queen & Beaver. Hand-chopped beef, done to your liking, w/aged cheddar or stilton, thick russet fries and homemade ketchup.

              1. re: bogie
                y
                Yum2MyTum Mar 1, 2010 04:24 AM

                I love the burger at Queen & Beaver as well. It is genius.

                1. re: bogie
                  l
                  lsk Mar 2, 2010 06:44 PM

                  Q&B Burger thirded. It is a brilliant and juicy burger, if only for the fact that the beef is hand-chopped, which makes it quite different from the other burgers in Toronto. The price is a trifle steep, but worth it.

                  1. re: lsk
                    Chester Eleganté Mar 9, 2010 08:20 AM

                    I still don't think it's actually a burger, since they are slicing up a steak and pressing it together. It is quite delicious, but it's fundamentally different from ground meat.

                  2. re: bogie
                    pinstripeprincess Mar 9, 2010 09:58 AM

                    i don't get it. unless they were a bit lazier in the kitchen or had duller knives than usual, i was pulling out strips of steak from this "burger" rather than being able to easily get a bite out of it. i was hoping hand chopped would be perhaps more of a rustic tartare but this was very unusual, not in a good way, and not something i would go back for.

                    the stilton was also a bit much.... i could see the aged cheddar perhaps working a bit better but the stilton concealed any finer points in the meat and so for all the pride in the quality of the meat.... well it was very difficult to taste.

                    overall it was like a sliced steak sandwich masquerading under the premise of a burger.... if that's your thing then great, it's definitely not mine.

                    1. re: pinstripeprincess
                      y
                      Yum2MyTum Mar 9, 2010 11:39 AM

                      Strange. This is not at all how I would describe the burger I ate. No strips. Basically a chunky burger, with the chunks only very slightly noticeable... sorry to hear that your experience was so poor, pinstripeprincess.

                      1. re: Yum2MyTum
                        c
                        childofthestorm Mar 9, 2010 11:53 AM

                        I finally tried the burger at the Q&B and I think it's awesome. Sure, it's a rough chop, but I dunno about a steak sandwich, maybe they had sharper knives that day. I substituted the Stilton (which I find overpowers a burger) for house-smoked mozzarella. Delicious.

                        My main complaint is that there was not enough beef for the $17 price tag, but then again, I also had them hold the bacon as I was with my Muslim wife. Ah well.

                        I had it medium rare and next time I'm getting it rare.

                2. m
                  mstestzzz001 Feb 21, 2010 07:11 PM

                  I've been to the Harbord Room twice, Nota Bene, Allen's, and the Drake just once each.

                  The burgers at the Harbord Room and the Drake Hotel were tender and juicy. Drake comes out on top because the Harbord Room's sides, while good, were small in quantity. It's like nouveau cuisine meets burger sides... Harbord Room's seating arrangements makes reservations a must unless you like sitting at the bar or go at off-peak times.

                  Allen's is decent.

                  Nota Bene's burger was somewhat dry in comparison to Harbord Room/Drake. For the price I expected something similar/better. Plus the clientele is more dressed up/Bay St. than the others.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: mstestzzz001
                    y
                    Yum2MyTum Feb 22, 2010 05:23 AM

                    I have to disagree - I tried both the Harbord Room's (once) and Nota Bene's, twice. I found Nota Bene's burger way juicier and tastier than the Harbord Room's. Maybe I went on an off night but very unimpressed with Harbord Room over all...

                    1. re: Yum2MyTum
                      p
                      phoenikia Feb 22, 2010 09:21 PM

                      The NB burger was very juicy the day I ordered it- juicier than my burger at the HR, and one of the 2 juiciest burgers I've eaten in TO, I ordered the NB burger medium, but it looked awfully pink for medium, so I'd probably order medium well or well done next time I'm at NB, even if it dries out the burger.

                      Found the HR's burger tastier than the NB burger, but that being said, the HR burger was very salty, and I couldn't drink enough water to quench my thirst after finishing the burger and fries. If I return to HR, in the name of sodium moderation, I'll ask them to hold the bacon and cheese, maybe even the fries and condiments, and I'll just focus on the burger ;-)

                      1. re: phoenikia
                        y
                        Yum2MyTum Feb 23, 2010 06:05 AM

                        phoenikia -- what 's the other juiciest burger you've had in TO?

                  2. m
                    metalmicky Feb 21, 2010 04:28 PM

                    Two others that I think should be added: the burger at the roxton is also very good - probably the oly thing really worth having on the menu now - and gilead cafe. the burger there is really good - i'd add these two to the list.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: metalmicky
                      p
                      piccola Feb 22, 2010 05:20 PM

                      Yeah, the Rox has new kitchen staff, a lot of things have changed.

                    2. AzulH Apr 1, 2009 09:06 PM

                      There are several burgers under $10 at Utopia ( College & just East of Clinton on the North side), quite inventive in terms of additions/toppings & names. Mine this evening ( Southern[?] with avocado bacon ++) was acceptable but not awe-inspiring. The place is busy and good value without being gourmet. Wine list is different and very worthwhile.
                      I have no hesitation to put it into competeing in the catagory defined by the Chester Elegante's post

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: AzulH
                        Splendid Wine Snob Apr 2, 2009 09:44 AM

                        Interesting about the raves for the Utopia burger. I finally made my way there only to be served a horrifically overcooked (bordering on burnt!) and dry burger. Blech!

                        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                          pinstripeprincess Apr 2, 2009 09:55 AM

                          i'd count the utopia burger as serviceable when you can get them to cook it under a little. but the nachos! those nachos cannot be beat for quantity, quality and price. i have no idea why anyone would choose that disgusting monstrosity at sneaky dees over this place.

                          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                            Manybears Apr 2, 2009 10:00 AM

                            I feel the same way! I love Utopia for other things but find both the bun and the burger much too dry for my liking.

                            1. re: Manybears
                              j
                              jamesm Apr 2, 2009 10:06 AM

                              Everything I've ever had at Utopia has been fantastic, including the lamb burger. Can't say I've tried the regular burger though.

                              1. re: Manybears
                                Splendid Wine Snob Apr 2, 2009 10:14 AM

                                Thanks guys-I'll try those nachos next time I'm in the hood.

                            2. re: AzulH
                              Chester Eleganté Apr 2, 2009 10:08 AM

                              Azul, any luck in your baklava search?

                              1. re: Chester Eleganté
                                AzulH Apr 3, 2009 12:38 PM

                                Not yet Chester Elegante. The last ones I tried were from a Greek pastry place North side of Danforth 1/2 a block east of Pape. ( sorry can't remember the name).
                                Edible but not worth a detour.

                                1. re: AzulH
                                  Chester Eleganté Apr 3, 2009 01:24 PM

                                  You weren't even looking for the Greek style, if I recall. You should just order it from P. Royale. Don't even have to make a trip.

                            3. u
                              urbuddee Mar 27, 2009 04:55 PM

                              shouldn't the Bymark burger be listed here too?? I haven't personally tried it but heard it's good! =D

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: urbuddee
                                s
                                sbug206 Mar 27, 2009 05:00 PM

                                It's way more than $20.

                                1. re: urbuddee
                                  aser Mar 27, 2009 05:03 PM

                                  bymark is $35, above poster's price range. It's a damn good burger though....

                                  Of the above, I've only had Allen's (my fav) and beerbistro (decent).

                                  Somehow, things like russian dressing just does not belong on a burger.

                                2. pinstripeprincess Mar 27, 2009 03:31 PM

                                  for a limited time only the drake burger will be only $10 with a beer! only available from 4-8pm. not a bad burger but not the best... . the price may make it infinitely more palatable though.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                    t
                                    tjr Mar 27, 2009 05:37 PM

                                    Yeah, I saw this deal. It sounds pretty good... hopefully this time they won't overcook my burger.

                                    1. re: tjr
                                      pinstripeprincess Mar 28, 2009 04:25 PM

                                      went last night and they didn't ask how the burger was to be cooked.... really lovely pink through the middle though. i'd say it's a pretty awesome deal (also came with ample mound of great fries and a small pile of coleslaw).. i mean where do you get a beer (smaller pint) and a full burger meal for $10! great.

                                      but the allen's burger had them on quality of meat and the wonderful crisp exterior they get even for rare rare meat. but that's $8 with virtually nothing else. i'd hold the russian dressing.

                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                        c
                                        csmk Apr 1, 2009 08:09 PM

                                        tried the drake burger yesterday under the $10 promo. My friend asked if the burger could be served pink and the server mentioned that all their burgers are cooked medium rare.

                                        My burger came nice pink and juicy. Unfortunately, my friend's burger was the complete opposite. $10 is a good deal...if you get the right burger. Weird that it was hit and miss on the same order.

                                  2. p
                                    peppermint pate Mar 27, 2009 11:45 AM

                                    Of the ones on your list, I've only tried Harbord Room and Allen's. Allen is always a fine burger but for total "yum" factor, I'd head straight over to Harbord. Best burger I've eaten in a very long time.

                                    1. Jacquilynne Mar 27, 2009 08:23 AM

                                      I am not a burger connoisseur, but I'd suggest that someone who is check out Tequila Bookworm's burger and see if it ranks inclusion on the list. Assuming you can find a waiter to serve you one, anyway.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Jacquilynne
                                        Splendid Wine Snob Apr 2, 2009 09:41 AM

                                        Hmm..yes not very fond memories of the service at Tequila Bookworm. In fact it ranks as the worst service experiences in Toronto for me. It was SO bad that it was the one and only time that I did not leave a tip-they pissed me off that bad (and I can honestly say that even with pretty mediocre service I never leave less than 15%). Would never venture a foot in that place again. Surly, surly, surly and slow.

                                        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                          Jacquilynne Apr 2, 2009 10:29 AM

                                          I've never found it surly -- entirely non-existent sometimes, but invariably friendly if you could find someone to actually serve you. It sounds like the service is consistently slow and inconsistently also rude.

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