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Apr 27, 2012 01:37 PM

Burger's Priest vs. Holy Chuck vs. Stockyards

I've now finally managed to try all three of these places. All use beef that is ground fresh daily. All cook 'em up in the smashed/griddled style. All use appropriately soft and squishy hamburger buns. So it seemed fair to do a comparison.

As I mentioned in another thread, I was incredibly let down by the BP burger. I absolutely disliked the texture of the burger. The grind was way too fine and the resulting texture of the meat was mushy. It wasn't "tender", it was mushy (my dining companion agreed, as have others I've spoken to, so it wasn't just me!). The flavour was fine, but the texture totally turned me off and I won't return.

Just had Holy Chuck this week and loved it. The flavour of the burger was great (beefy, with good use of salt and pepper and nothing else that I could detect), and the texture was very good: tender, but with good bite to the patty. The burgers are grease bombs, but they are delicious. I started off with The Holy Chuck -- a basic double with bacon and caramelized onions. I snarfed that down and wanted more, so I got The Big Chuck -- essentially a big mac -- and split it with a friend. My only lament is the lack of crust on the burgers. One side of the patty is browned, but with no crust, and the other side is basically grey. But that's a minor quibble and didn't prevent me from inhaling them and wanting to return for more.

But after all that, my first love is still the burger at The Stockyards. Everything there is perfect for my personal taste -- the taste, the texture and the lovely crispy edges they get because they use a cast iron press to smash the burger and cook it from both sides.

So Holy Chuck wins my business for being delicious and being right on the Yonge subway line and super easy for me to get to. And Stockyards has my loyalty for turning out a consistently awesome burger that I crave regularly (they also turn out one of my favourite brunches in the city, but that's a separate topic!).

None of the above are particularly cheap, and yes, I can turn out excellent burgers at home as well. But sometimes I just want someone else to do it for me. It's nice to have options.

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  1. Just goes to show - to each his own. I love the texture of the burgers at BP. I tried 5 guys this week and found the meat to be bland, and the texture lacking - I still much prefer BP. These other places are on my list to try!

    3 Replies
    1. re: justxpete

      Ugh, I really don't like 5 Guys at all, and I've tried them in multiple cities in the States. Consistently bland burgers. Without the toppings, a 5 Guys burger would be nothing. And their buns basically disintegrate on contact.

      1. re: TorontoJo

        Nice review ToJo.
        I've tried BP(liked) Holy Chuck(loved) and 5 Guys(good, for me)
        Stockyards is next,if I can resist the fried chicken...

        1. re: TorontoJo

          I was just anticipating they'd be good, given all the hype - but I was greatly disappointed. And I've yet to try the burger at Stockyards despite having had stockyards probably 20 times in the last year. I can't resist the fried chicken - but maybe I'll have to try a little harder!

      2. Burger Press coming soon to Queen and Bathurst so you will have an excuse to keep the taste test alive! : )

        2 Replies
        1. re: justsayn

          my concern about burger press is that their sign promotes their use of lean beef.... it does not give me hope.

          1. re: justsayn

            Well, at least I can easily find out if they'd be good... I work at that corner! Are they not open yet?

          2. My ranking would be the exact opposite. I love the texture/flavour at BP. Holy Chuck is a very close second, and Stockyards would be third. I've had Stockyards a couple of times, and both times it's been very good but not quite on BP's level. I find that it doesn't have the same depth of flavour, and is a little bit drier than I'd like.

            33 Replies
            1. re: Michael N

              Does anyone know anything about who is behind Holy Chuck?

              1. re: szw

                Johnny Prassoulis and Bill Koutroubis.

                1. re: estufarian

                  Didn't realize Bill Koutroubis was involved. Thanks for the heads up! ;-)

              2. re: Michael N

                Agreed about Stockyards' burger. I don't understand the love for it. It was good, not great.

                Love BP's burger. Great.

                Will be trying Holy Chuck shortly.

                1. re: magic

                  Agree with TorontoJo - Holy Chuck is better than BP. In terms of taste, atmosphere and just all 'round experience.

                2. re: Michael N

                  Stockyards is definitely drier than HC, but for me the tradeoff for that lovely crusty edge is worth it.

                  I forgot to mention that all of the HC burgers that my friends and I had were pink in the middle -- a very pleasant surprise.

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    I actually don't care for pink in burgers.

                    It's not a raw thing, as I love raw meats, but I find pink middles in burgers means less flavour. I prefer cooked through but loaded with juice.

                    Pink.... meh. Don't like. But that's just my personal preference.

                    1. re: magic

                      the amount of pink was actually not that much, not the way say... an allen's burger or what not will do the med rare. it was just a spot of it with definitely very medium cooked meat around it. it was quite beefy.

                      i also realized after we talked, TOJo, that i was the one that commented on the salt before. i had the plainest burger the first time and found that the patty itself was a bit low on salt but that the cheese, bacon, etc etc more than compensated for it via other ppls burgers. whatever it was then, it's certainly not now.

                      btw... i really like the service at HCB the guys there really try to make sure that you're getting great food and a great experience.

                        1. re: magic

                          btw, i'm not sure how you get your stockyard's burger, but the only way i do now is animal style. while i like the other variations... this is the one that gets the cravings going. HCB doesn't do "animal style" theirs misses on the pickles which i think is fairly crucial for this and their big chuck doesn't hit all the same notes (this wasn't greasy to me at all, btw, so i think it has more to do with their bacon/other toppings).

                          the one thing i don't quite get is that their fries are essentially the same, but i prefer stockyards'.

                          i haven't had enough BP recently to make a comparison with them. i was not happy enough with the first one to make a trek out whereas i'll make the trek to HCB and SY (which can be 30-45 min one way).

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            I had Stockyards burgers only once. I got 2 and compared.

                            First one had good flavour but was a bit too well done for my liking. I had it with ketchup only.

                            I ordered a second burger not as well done, but it was far too underdone for my personal liking. Also ketchup only.

                            With all the nice burgers in this city there's no reason for me to give SY burgers another shot, really. For my experience at least, it just wasn't worth the fat. BP's definitely are! At BP I enjoy triple patties (doubles are too small for me there), cheese, bit of ketchup. No creative concoctions yet. Heaven (so far).

                            Looking forward to trying Holy Chuck next week! Not a fan of the zoo-like atmosphere at BP so Holy Chuck seems like a good place to try.

                            1. re: magic

                              So after FINALLY trying Holy Chuck, I am rating my preferences as such:

                              1. Holy Chuck
                              2. Burger's Priest
                              3. Stockyards

                              At HC I got a triple cheeseburger with caramelized onions. The burger tastes almost identical to BP, maybe even the exactly same. Juicy, greasy, messy heaven. Great beef flavour. Perfect bun. What I really like about HC though it that the burger is bigger than BP's, which I find are slightly on the smaller side. I think those that prefer burgers that don't crumble will also like HC. All the taste of BP, but the burger stays intact. Personally, I like both styles, for those that don't like BP's crumbly burger, go to HC.

                              I also love that it's MUCH easier to eat at HC. No line, lots of tables, food comes quick, zero stress. Nice staff, as opposed to BP's staff that aren't overly friendly. Not unfriendly, but not supernice either (in my limited experiences there).

                              Fries were really good, but slightly on the salty side for me. Still really good though.

                              Nutella Salted Caramel milkshake was dreeeeeeeeeamy. So good!

                              Ordered their "special sauce" (their version of Big Mac sauce) on the side. Fantastic!

                              It was a pricey, more expensive than BP even, which itself is not cheap. But totally worth every penny. A more enjoyable eating experience overall.

                              Enjoy the pics!

                              1. re: magic

                                Glad you liked it! I totally agree about the "non food" elements of HC. No crowds, big tables, smiling staff. And that shake! So for me, even if I liked the BP burger, HC would win my business for all the other factors.

                                1. re: magic

                                  places to sit? Oh my. Must get there soon!

                                  1. re: magic

                                    You hit on a key point for a lot of people. There's a certain edginess to BP. They have the music loud (er) and the staff, at least a lot of them, have a certain curtness that doesn't play well for a lot of people.

                                    When I reviewed HC for my blog I said that it seemed as though they were trying to be everything that BP wasn't. A lot more friendly, larger, no secret menu, etc. Sort of a burgers anti christ if you will.
                                    As far as non food stuff goes.

                                    At the end of the day, we're all winners. At least, those of us who like this type of burger.


                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      Yes, that's a good point about the secret menu. I do not like secret menus.

                                      I'm already paying enough for the meal - do I have to do legwork and research as well?? I get that it’s supposed to be fun, but for me I guess it’s just added work.

                                      I loved that HC’s menu was well laid out and explained, easy for all to see.

                                      Honestly, my burger was amazing. I'm not sure if that is because the owner was there overseeing, but it was simply great.

                                      The staff also seemed really at ease, which must come from the owner. Then again they weren’t totally slammed like BP. They should be though, if my first meal there is any indication of what their food is usually like.

                                      I just got a sense of fun there that I don’t necessarily get at BP. Crazy cow cartoons, cute picture-covered walls of shame and fame, eating challenges, fun mission statements. Loved it.

                                      As long as they are consistent with their food, with or without the owner's presence, and with all these other factors to boot, why go to BP? More enjoyable to go to HC for a griddled style flat top burger all things being equal.

                                      1. re: magic

                                        I think the "secret menu" at BP is beyond tacky. It couldn't be more embarrassing ordering something from it, so I don't.

                                        1. re: magic

                                          A buddy of mine read my blog post and immediately stated that they sounded like a "Wannabe" place.
                                          I explained that AFAIWC what they "Wannabe" is the place people go to who hate BP's schtick but love the burgers.

                                          Anyway, I'd so totally indifferent about secret menus that I don't care. What I didn't like was when I asked about it BP told me it was "A secret" and couldn't talk about it. Gee, thanks!!

                                          Anyway, the Classic American Cheeseburger is my favourite type of burger and I'm just glad I have 3 excellent offerings. I also agree with Jay that Collegiate Lunch's version is very good as well. At half the cost too. Very under appreciated.


                                          1. re: Davwud

                                            That's exactly it. So. Incredibly. Tacky. I go in spite of their silly, "secret menu". Not even is it original!

                                            1. re: justxpete

                                              They don't claim to be original. They say up front they're modeled on In n Out which has a secret menu.
                                              If you don't like it, don't order from it. I can't for a minute understand why it would be embarrassing.


                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                As stated previously, I don't. Nor did I claim that they claim it's original. We're just discussing it. Is that allowed? Not sure why you have your back up, all of a sudden. I thought we were agreeing.

                                                How is it embarrassing? You allowed yourself to be rebuked by one of their employees, in a place where you are patronizing *their* establishment, most likely in front of other people - I find that embarrassing, and feel bad for people that they treat in this manner. It's incredibly awkward to watch, and I would never subject myself to it. Simply unfathomable, to me. Call it what you will.

                                                1. re: justxpete

                                                  Okay, I didn't find it embarrassing. Pretty simple I guess.

                                                  We are agreeing. However on your previous post you said "Not even is it original" and backed it up with an exclamation point.
                                                  Anyway, we are on the same page. No worries.


                                                2. re: Davwud

                                                  Because they might not say it just right. And it is silly.

                                                  1. re: justsayn

                                                    <Because they might not say it just right. And it is silly>

                                                    So if you don't say it just right,they won't serve it to you??

                                                    1. re: petek

                                                      No. But many people are like that...not me, but I know them well. And if that guy/owner is not in the best mood, as has been reported, he may actually bark something back...yes.

                                                      1. re: petek

                                                        No, they rebuke you and say they can't tell you about it, or you can't ask what's on it, and if you don't say it right, they won't give it to you - what I've witnessed, anyway.

                                                        So childish.

                                                        1. re: justxpete

                                                          <and if you don't say it right, they won't give it to you >

                                                          well I better start practicing now if I ever want to order the"Holy Smoke Jarge " :D

                                                          1. re: petek

                                                            lol, I have no intention of doing so.

                                                            1. re: justxpete

                                                              Interesting marketing ploy.Seems to be working out fine for In&Out Burgers(200+ locations)

                                              2. re: magic

                                                I forgot to add....

                                                Even though I found both HC and BP to be nearly identical in flavour (in other words, both amazing) for some reason I'd personally describe BP's burger as an amped up Wendy's burger and HC as an amped up McDonald's burger. I know this might seem odd given that I thought they were both so similar, but there you go!

                                                I love both Wendy's and McDonald's so I am happy with both BP/HC :) !

                                                1. re: magic

                                                  I completely agree with the Wendys/BP connection and much prefer Wendys (on the old bun) - I ask them to make a fresh patty when I order.

                            2. I actually find 5 guys to be better than all these places. They are all good burgers though.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Bobby Wham

                                I've only tried the HC junior cheeseburger which tasted perfectly fine, but I'd be just as likely to order a junior cheeseburger from Wendy's. I'm not putting HC down- I like Wendy's and Harvey's. As I ate my burger, topped with pickles, hot peppers, all the other free condiments apart from mayo, I thought it was a little like having a burger from Wendy's or In n Out topped with toppings from Harvey's, while supporting the local economy. The novelty burgers look interesting- but I don't really have 1200 calories to spend on a burger, so I'd probably only order one if I was famished or sharing.

                                I did find the service very friendly. I wish the HC guys good luck, and I will be back to try their fancier burgers and maybe a shake. Hope they consider adding a mini-shake (maybe around 8 oz, or even 4 oz) to the menu!

                                Still have to get around to trying Stockyard's.

                              2. The original comment has been removed