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Best $10-20 burger?

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...

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  1. 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

      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

        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.

    2. 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. 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

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

          1. re: tjr

            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

              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. 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

              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. 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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

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

                    2. re: AzulH

                      Azul, any luck in your baklava search?

                      1. re: Chester Eleganté

                        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

                          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. 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

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

                      2. 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

                          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

                            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

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

                        2. 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

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

                            1. re: wop_genius

                              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

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

                                1. re: bogie

                                  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

                                    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

                                    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

                                      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

                                        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. 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. 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. 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

                                        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

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