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Toronto Life's 25 best burgers

Michael N May 17, 2012 11:10 AM


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. biggreenmatt RE: Michael N May 17, 2012 02:59 PM

    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
      atomeyes RE: biggreenmatt May 17, 2012 03:05 PM

      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
        prima RE: atomeyes May 19, 2012 06:47 PM

        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
        Googs RE: biggreenmatt May 19, 2012 04:39 PM

        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
          Luvtooeat RE: Googs May 21, 2012 04:55 PM

          AGREED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          1. re: Googs
            stv RE: Googs Aug 2, 2012 11:29 AM

            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: Googs
              DUH CAR RE: Googs Aug 2, 2012 11:35 AM


            2. re: biggreenmatt
              haggisdragon RE: biggreenmatt May 19, 2012 09:57 PM

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

            3. a
              abigllama RE: Michael N May 19, 2012 02:43 PM

              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. haggisdragon RE: Michael N May 19, 2012 09:59 PM

                "Burger scene"?

                1. TorontoTips RE: Michael N May 20, 2012 09:52 AM

                  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. scarberian RE: Michael N May 21, 2012 05:44 PM

                    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
                      ragged25 RE: scarberian May 22, 2012 01:30 PM

                      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. c
                      canmark RE: Michael N Aug 2, 2012 07:34 AM

                      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
                        Davwud RE: canmark Aug 3, 2012 04:44 AM

                        Wow. I've never heard of them.

                        Anyone care to add a review??


                        1. re: Davwud
                          Michael N RE: Davwud Aug 3, 2012 05:28 AM

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

                          1. re: Michael N
                            Davwud RE: Michael N Aug 3, 2012 07:27 AM




                            1. re: Michael N
                              Googs RE: Michael N Aug 3, 2012 07:35 AM

                              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
                                justsayn RE: Googs Aug 3, 2012 12:14 PM

                                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
                                  Davwud RE: justsayn Aug 3, 2012 02:15 PM


                                  Don't go slagging dog food like that.


                                  1. re: justsayn
                                    T Long RE: justsayn Sep 10, 2012 05:00 PM

                                    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).

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