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Great Toronto Smashed Burger Showdown

Hey Hounds.

Well in honour of Burger Week I set out with Mrs. Sippi and 3 buddies to sample 4 of Toronto's top "Smashed" burgers. Burger's Priest, Holy Chuck, Stockyards and Stacked BBQ.

We pretty much divided up into two person teams and had half burgers at each place.
Burgers would be ordered as similar as possible for better control. Less mitigating factors.
No "Secret Menu" style burgers either.
The winner was given a 10 with all others falling in behind. On my score card.

So, I will post my findings and then the over all group findings.

Coming in fourth for me was Stack. A very respectable 4 I think, I gave them an 8 out of 10. My thoughts, which I shared with the owner Bill are as follows. The brioche bun was too much. It was a bit too big, had too much taste and was a bit dry. Not stale but just seemed dry. Bill agreed and said he doesn't like it and wants to come up with a different bun. As well, the grind on the meat I thought was way too fine. It didn't have a good chew/mouth feel. The taste was quite good though. It was certainly juicy enough, coming in at medium well but in retrospect I think a bit more fatty meat would work better. It lacked that certain thing that the fat gives.

In third place for me, surprisingly, was The Stockyards. They put out a great burger but it wasn't the best I've had there. 9 out of 10 was my mark. It just didn't quite have the great crust I found on my previous visits. Gus asked me if he got a "Sub par" burger and I didn't think it was. I pointed out that the other two times I was there I had the only burger on the griddle. They could devote all their attention to it. So more like what I'd had before was "Extra good" perhaps. They were absolutely swamped and were constantly turning over the flat top.

In second with a 9.5 was Holy Chuck. Once again they produced a fabulous burger with good taste, texture and a great amount of greasy, beefy, goodness oozing out. Perhaps just slightly too much. The juiciness put it ahead of Stockyards however their meat wasn't quite as tasty.
As a side note, the Wasabi, Green Onion and Fresh Ginger was quite enjoyable.Very creamy and had a decent wasabi kick. My only complain was that you almost couldn't taste the other two ingredients. A little more ginger hit would be great.

The winner, and back as my favourite GTA burger is The Burgers Priest. Awarded the full 10 points. The Priest were totally on top of their game. The perfect balance of juiciness like with HC and the better beef flavour like Stockyards. We were only judging on taste but I wasn't impressed that they wouldn't cut the burger in half. All the other place did it without question. They'd have lost points on that.

As for the group as a whole The Priest was a unanimous winner. As I said above, they were right on top of their game. There was a split among the other 4 about second place. 2 had HC while 2 others had Stockyards. The big difference would be that the two who picked Stockyards second though HC was well below while the two who picked HC second still loved Stockyards. All agreed that Stack was in last but still made a terrific burger. All agreed that the grind was way too fine.

The plan was to finish at Stack as Hungry Abbey had encouraged me to go for just the S'mores Donuts. Great call. We were able save enough room for them and they were fantastic. It's worth a visit for those. The milk shakes as well I suspect. Gus ordered one that was excellent. They have a liquor license so he added Grand Marnier to his and it as just great. I don't remember the flavour but I think it was Apple Crumble.

So there you go. Burger's Priest has won my heart back. At least in the burger category.

DT

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  1. Great write-up, Davewud! Maybe I need to give HC another try! I'm still not sure why I had such a bad experience, comparitively, although two of your group seem to have the same sentiment as I, to a degree.

    1. Just to confirm.... You said you selected burgers as similar as possible, does that mean you had them all with Wasabi, Green Onion and Fresh Ginger? Sounds like those toppings are pretty overpowering for a burger taste-off IMO.

      2 Replies
      1. re: justsayn

        Ooops. Sorry, the W, GO & FG is a shake at HC.

        DT

        1. re: Davwud

          Ahhhh. That makes much more sense to me! Cool. Thanks!

      2. Davwud, as always, very informative piece. I gotta give HC a try as I keep hearing about it from others. I've done BP many a times and I still feel it's the best I've had so far. Many articles that list the top burgers of Toronto fail to do what you did and they compare totally different styled burgers with different toppings. You did what is suppose to be done and keep all the burger samples as similar as possible. Thanks for your endeavours and it makes me wanna try the smashed burger sampler.

        1. First, a big THANK YOU to DT for doing this.

          I have done 3/4s of Davwud's Smashdown, but with real cheddar - snuck into HC & BP but I have also had the BP and HC burgers as intended. People know my views on cheese; both are vastly superior with real cheddar on them. I have never been to Stacked BBQ.

          I am comparing double burgers with real cheese and bacon, but otherwise plain.

          Personally, I like the texture of the meat at BP best; I find both HC and Stockyards to be overground. However, I like the cooking best at HC as they get a better browned crust on the burger. Stockyards gets kudos for having real cheese, but their meat is leaner, so there is less fatty juiciness. So each wins in one facet of the contest, in my never humble, but clearly low-brow, opinion.

          Parking at all three are a pain in the anatomy - you roll the dice on finding street parking at BP or Stockyards; there's a Green P about a block from HC. I want to eat the burger while it is hot and fresh. BP can be crowded; the Stockyards is small but OK; HC is clean and bright with a lot of seating. I don't see that these factors are tie-breakers.

          7 Replies
          1. re: OTFOODIE

            Stockyards parking is best across the street in the small lot beside the Golden Arches.

            For BP we found street parking on Golfdale Rd. (one St. S.) with no problem. We walked down to Stack from there.

            I parked not very close to HC. I had set something up through work. It was a 2 block walk to the corner of Y & St. C.

            DT

            1. re: Davwud

              My point about parking was just that for all three, you have to find either street parking or lots nearby, as none are set up with their own parking, which is typical in the city.

              1. re: OTFOODIE

                My take on it was that it was difficult to find parking. My point was that I didn't have much trouble. Perhaps neither of us articulated very well.

                DT

                1. re: Davwud

                  One of the reasons I like going to BP on Queen street is that there's always parking. It's such a relief. Honestly. Sadly, however, they don't have shakes.

                  The Yonge and St. Clair location is just too far from where I live and parking is much more of a chore up there (in general), I find.

                  1. re: justxpete

                    Yonge and Lawrence you mean right? Yonge and St. Clair is Holy Chuck.

                    1. re: ylsf

                      Indeed... I stand corrected. :)

            2. re: OTFOODIE

              I don't know if I'm that lucky, but I always get great parking at BP (Beaches location) and Stockyards. I guess it's timing? I seem to be able to get parking right in front of BP or just a few doors east of it whenever I go (and I've been there for lunch and for dinner). As for Stockyards, the 4 times I've gone (twice on a Saturday afternoon ~1pm and twice during the weekday around 5 pm) I was able to find street parking only 1 block away from their door.

              I do agree with you OTFOODIE about BP's texture (although I haven't been to HC yet). However I found their crust to be quite sufficient.

              1. Awesome.. thanks!

                We did the same thing with just two of the places, and our group of 4 also decided Burger's Priest as the winner.

                I'm still looking forward to trying the other two places, though :P

                1. I posted on another thread that my wife and I tried BP on Yonge Street north of Lawrence, south of York Mills, and it was practically INEDIBLE. Way oversalted and shockingly devoid of beef taste in their fresh ground beef. On the other thread, I asked if this was far different from the Beach BP and two replies indicated that they stopped going for similar reasons. I will try the Beach location because so many of you love the place, and I hope that it will live up to the hype. I think this is the only fair way of assessing the brand. In the meantime, we went to Holy Chuck on Yonge Street south of St. Clair and it was FABULOUS. It was so good, coming on the heels of our BP experience, that the contrast was even more startling.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Big Kahuna 1

                    Oddly enough, justxpete had exactly the same experience as you only it was at HC.

                    I've heard reports that the Queen E. location is better but AFAIC this one was the best burger I've had at BP.

                    DT

                    1. re: Big Kahuna 1

                      How can beef be shockingly devoid of beef flavour? The philosophical discord inherent within this notion threatens to send me into a tailspin of despair.

                    2. Holy Chuck has the worst over priced burger I've ever tasted. I basically bit into a patty full of salt. How can they even have a following is beyond me. I will give them points for their nutella shake though.

                      1. Good post, DT
                        Good test, and welcome home :-) You've mirrored my feelings exactly, but I admit I had only manged to do them in successive visits, not all on one day.

                        I too am shocked by the comment about lack of beefy flavour, as that is precisely the key reason most people love BP over the other spots, the beefiness and loose grind of the patty. Then again, I typically ask for only cheese and grilled onions, or occasionally add pickles and a hint of mustard, so perhaps the flavour isn't masked as much as it can be with more toppings.

                        I find little or no difference between the two locations, and the Yonge location is just down the street from me so I visit it more often... but I have to be honest, if I was in charge, I'd turn the flat-top up hotter, so I'd get more external crust faster without having to cook the patty quite as much... just sayin' :-)

                        Cheers,
                        .James.