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Toronto Life's 25 best burgers


I'm a bit lukewarm on this list. Ideally a list like this would be comprised of at least 15 burgers from actual burger joints, rather than the mere five featured here -- but I understand that as much as Toronto's burger scene has moved forward in the last few years, it still needs work. And it's sad that of those five, two are what I would consider nostalgia places, that trade more on fond memories than actual taste (Apache and Golden Star).

Then there are burgers that aren't actually burgers (Lamb? Elk??), and a disconcerting number of fancy-pants burgers. All in all it's an interesting list, but one I can't say I'm crazy about.


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  1. SHOCKED that they would DARE omit Burger Shack's Home-Banquet-Medium-Rare from the list! SHOCKED, I say!

    I think you're right, though, about the disconcerting number of fancy burgers- but consider the source. IMO, Toronto Life's turned more and more hoity-toity over time and the fancy-factor's gotta be taken into account.

    Oh, ad I'm vaguely disappointed that there was no mention of Goody's.

    7 Replies
    1. re: biggreenmatt

      when i read Apache and Golden star's inclusion, i already knew it was a joke of a list. then they included a few burgers that are questionably bur gers (HRVATI?).

      in the end, lists are made for people to debate and to get mega-pageclicks. to Toronto Life got it right, i guess.

      1. re: atomeyes

        My top 25 would include Caren's Stilton Burger and Weezie's burger. Of the ones mentioned by Toronto Life, I've tried only tried 4 ( Harbord Room, Nota Bene, Marben,Holy Chuck). I'd rank Weezie's burger ahead of Marben's, although it's possible Marben was having an off-day the one time I ordered their burger.

        I have several friends who continue to enjoy Golden Star's home burger, and go out of their way to get a home burger from time to time. I don't think the inclusion of Golden Star automatically makes the list a joke.

      2. re: biggreenmatt

        Any list of the top 25 or even top 10 burgers in Toronto that doesn't include Goody's Diner is immediately irrelevant. Suivant!

          1. re: Googs

            AGREED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! er... X 2 <g>

            But with Goody's being not mentioned, I still can get my burger fix in 15 mins, with out long lineups.

            1. re: biggreenmatt

              Actually I'd claim the complete opposite. Toronto Life is moving more and more down market in the last cooule of years.

            2. I've tried most of the burgers on that list and Harbord Room is the best I've had in the city and possibly anywhere. Just had one last week and it was amazing.

                1. Hey!
                  I've only been to about 5 of the places listed, so I can't comment on the overall list (and I have concerns that most of the burgers are north of $15!) but I absolutely support the inclusion of Golden Star, lament the exclusion of The Real McCoy, comfy with Burger Shack being omitted due to quality of meat that's good, if over-seasoned, but just OK, and I have mixed feelings about excluding Goody's, which definitely has a fun attitude towards amusing burger toppings ("borrowed" incidentally, in it's entirety, without credit, from http://www.cheeseandburger.com, including the photos) but the actual burgers I've had there have been a little hit and miss on the quality of beef and proper grilling.
                  That said, all of the above may be 100% better than some inclusions on the list, since I've not visited most of the places listed ... and I won't go seeking the latest $20 smoked gluten-free brie and grass-fed poached pear with pomegranite jus and applewood-smoked macaron foam burgers - Just my 2 cents. :-)

                  1. First of all I'm not sure why Goody's wasn't mentioned as they have awesome "meatloaf style" burgers.

                    Secondly when they judge the burgers they can't compare a plain cheese burger to one with bacon. C'mon you have to judge the burger for the burger taste alone i.e. which has the superior fresh beefy flavour. I would've put TBP's double double in the top 3. Maybe it should've been titled TL's 25 Most Favourite Burgers instead of "Best".

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: scarberian

                      I've been fortunate enough to try a few of the burgers on the list including The Harbord Room, Marben, Nota Bene, The Burger's Priest, Bymark, The Gabardine. I'm not surprised to see some of the usual suspects near the top of the list as I've enjoyed the burgers from Harbord Room, Marben and Nota Bene tremendously and on repeat visits. Bymark I tried just for the sake of seeing what the fuss was all about. Don't get me wrong, it was a great burger, but the value just wasn't there. The first time I tried the burger at The Burger's Priest (The Priest), I sworn I told myself I've never had a burger prior and they remain my top 3.

                      In regards to the exclusion of Goody's burger, I can only imagine it due to the fact that Toronto Life has not sent anyone out there to try them yet. With so many 'burger joints' out there, I can understand the misstep, but the writer should have done their homework and do a little background check before putting out a top 25 list. I have been a big fan of Goody's and how their business is ran and I have very much enjoyed every burger I've had their and I would rank them up there along the others I've mentioned above with the exception of The Gabardine, it was too dry and did not finish it. I think had the writer actually tried a Goody's burger, they easily would/should have made the list. If however, this isn't the case and Toronto Life feels that the 25 places are in fact better than Goody's, then it's a different story.

                      This list really isn't too useful to me as I knew how good the burgers at Harbord Room, Marben, Nota Bene, Goody's without someone telling me they're the best. If nothing else, this list serves as a conversation starter!

                    2. Toronto mini-chain Big Smoke Burger planning a US invasion starting with a New York flagship: http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2012/07...

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: canmark

                        Wow. I've never heard of them.

                        Anyone care to add a review??


                        1. re: Davwud

                          Big Smoke Burger = Craft Burger. They did a name change about a year ago.

                            1. re: Michael N

                              Oh yeah, Big Smoke is a MUCH better name. It works wherever it goes. It has the rock singer ring of "Thank YOOOoou (insert city name here). (Insert city name here) fans are the BEST."

                              1. re: Googs

                                Craft Burger name had trademark issues - especially in the States.

                                Good on them to go for it. They are BY FAR my favourite chain burger. I wish it were them on every block rather than the dog food that Hero puts out!

                                1. re: justsayn


                                  Don't go slagging dog food like that.


                                  1. re: justsayn

                                    Had a tasty Big Smoke burger today at the Urban Eatery. My burger even had a "hint" of pink. So big thumbs up (unless I die).