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Let's hear who has the best onion rings in Toronto!

Because my birthday is coming soon, and onion rings are on my list!

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  1. Thompson hotel diner has fantastic rings consistently. Burger Shoppe Queen east are solid. Both are the breaded type, not batter and both keep grease to a minimum.

    2 Replies
    1. re: justsayn

      I knew I was going to see you on this thread justsayn, and I knew you were going to list the Thompson Hotel :) I couldn't agree more. The onion rings @ the Thompson Hotel rock!!!!

      1. re: justsayn

        Yes, Thompson Diner has my favourite onion rings. Mind you, the last few times I had them, the oil seemed a little old. Overall though, they are exactly as I like them - thick cut sweet onions, breaded and fried until the coating crunches like crackers. They are almost a meal. The soft-cooked onions and the crunchy outsides are like two different beasts!

        I also agree - A & W's are a similar style and I love these too. The small-ringed, frozen, batter-dipped kind are awful. The soak up oil like crazy and get really mushy.

      2. Not Toronto, Buffalo. Ted's Red Hots has the best onion rings I've ever had.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Yongeman

          Very interesting. I'll be in Buffalo this weekend. Which Ted's location do you visit ?

          It will be nice to get an international reference when comparing Toronto's best Rings.

          1. re: PoppiYYZ

            Ted's has a location on Transit Road near Russell's (Salvatore's Grand Hotel) had a burnt footlong 2 weeks ago. Outstanding! Plus they have Loganberry (a little sweet, but so nostalgic) missed the onion rings... fries were fresh cut...

            1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

              Just a quick request, folks -- if you've got more to add to this conversation about rings in Buffalo, please start a new discussion on the New York State board and leave a link here. That'll make sure the info ends up in the right spot. Thanks!

              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                Thanks, but just trying to add an International frame of reference to our TO Onion Ring quest. Not trying to make Buffalo the topic.

                I just wanted to know where kw got his Buffalo's best. BTW, are burnt footlongs Rippers ?

                1. re: PoppiYYZ

                  I believe I have heard that term. Not sure if there are specific requirements for that name (type, etc.). I just ask for it "well done"

                  1. re: PoppiYYZ

                    Done. Crispy, Crumbly, Goodness...

            2. it's been ages, but i liked the onion rings at nota bene.

              1 Reply
              1. re: autopi

                Completely agree - the rings at Nota Bene are light and crispy - probably the best I've ever had.

              2. Not Toronto - and perhaps 15 years ago, but back when we used to have a place in Scottsdale, AZ, we would go to this place called Hoolihans, and they had an Onion Ring BRICK - thing was AMAZING!

                I would also echo Nota Bene's suggestion, love the paper thin rings.

                  1. re: Tatai

                    Yep. That's exactly what I was thinking, but I didn't want to be the first person to bring up a fast food joint. The onion rings at A&W are surprisingly good. If there are better onion rings in the city (and there probably are), I haven't tried them. My only issue with them is that the breading isn't particularly well seasoned -- they season post-fry. So sometimes they're perfectly seasoned and tasty, and sometimes they're fairly bland.

                    1. re: Tatai

                      I prefer breaded to battered, so +1 for A&W onion rings...
                      agree with Michael N though, they can be underseasoned.

                      Great with a frozen mug of Root Beer (though strangely, I am not particularly fond of Root Beer...)

                      1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                        I'm a breaded-only onion ring fanatic, too. I've also had amazing onion rings at W Burger Bar on College just west of Yonge. They're panko-breaded. Haven't had them in a couple of years, though, so don't know if they're still good.

                        As for A & W, they're the only thing I'd order there. Everything else if pretty bad, in my opinion. The Teen Burger of my youth (1960s/70s, made with back bacon) was delicious; the current version (with strip bacon) is horrid.

                        1. re: Tatai

                          Yeah, the onion rings are clearly the best thing on the menu, though I will say that the burgers are pretty good by fast food standards (which is a very low bar, obviously).

                          1. re: Tatai

                            You reminded me of W Burger. Thanks I recall having very good rings there a couple of times last year.

                            I don't get the fuss over A & W onion rings though. I didn't even want to eat my whole order. They are crispy sure, but they have no other attributes that I enjoy about an onion ring. The best analogy for me would be, if you like fries which are coated and frozen as much as you like fries from fresh cut potatoes, you may like A & W onion rings as much as you like rings from fresh cut onions.

                            The difference between fresh and fast food frozen is so far apart that they may deserve their own name for conversations such as this!

                            1. re: justsayn

                              FYI I was under the impression that A&W makes the onion rings fresh in-store, though I could be mistaken. They certainly don't taste like any frozen onion ring I've ever had. As for the lack of taste, as I mentioned before the level of seasoning does depend on the person behind the fryer, so you probably got an underseasoned batch.

                              1. re: Michael N

                                They have always been frozen and enjoyed by many. If they are fresh made, that would be a very new thing.

                                An A & W onion ring is its own thing and people love it. I just happen to not like it for what it is and I wouldn't like it even if it were the official onion ring. Whereas a chicken mcnugget of grossness is something I enjoy from time to time despite its not being near as good as fresh made chicken fingers.

                                So when I think of the variations of other foods that I enjoy (given that I do not live in the "must be authentic" camp), it would be more fair and in keeping with my spirit to say that I just simply don't like A & W onion rings and it doesn't have anything to do with how they compare to fresh.

                                1. re: justsayn

                                  I think maybe you should give the A&W onion rings another shot. Everything I'm reading online says they're made fresh in-store, and they certainly taste fresh to me. I've had a lot of different frozen onion rings and I'm pretty confident I can taste the difference between fresh and frozen, though I am admittedly not an expert. The McNugget to real chicken strip comparison doesn't apply, IMO. I mean, different strokes for different folks, but the thing you're describing doesn't jive with what I've been served at A&W over the last few years.

                                  1. re: justsayn

                                    Actually when I worked at A&W several years ago (early 90s), the rings were definitely made fresh. The morning crew would slice the huge onions -- they would be laying flat in these rubbermaid-type baskets with layers in between. As I was a cashier and not part of the cooking staff I can't remember if they battered them before laying them out or if they battered them just prior to frying.
                                    But I definitely know they were made fresh right in-store.

                                    1. re: LearningHow

                                      Interesting and I stand corrected on the fresh vs frozen but like I also mentioned - the main point for me was not liking them just for what they are. The reason I assumed they were frozen is because there was no sign of onion in the onion ring....just onion matter that blended into the coating.

                                      I assume that would be the case for all locations so I am very surprised.

                                      Thanks for correcting my assumption!

                                      1. re: justsayn

                                        Not sure when you last tried them, but the "no sign of onion" comment is interesting. I have never seen anything resembling what you describe as "onion matter that blended into the coating". Sometimes I even find the onion sliced a little thick for my taste...

                                        1. re: justsayn

                                          Huh. This is a stupid question, I know, but are you sure you're not confusing A&W's onion rings with Burger King's?

                                          I don't even know why I care -- you are free to like and dislike what you please, of course, and it's not like A&W's onion rings are the pinnacle of good food. But what you're describing just doesn't sound like any A&W onion ring I've ever had. Maybe you were just served a bad batch?

                                          1. re: Michael N

                                            That's funny that you ask. I can't speak for justsayn, but I think I might have confused A & W's for Burger King...oops!!

                                            1. re: Michael N

                                              : ) All good Michael!

                                              It was twice. A&W on Mavis Rd. and A&W in the food court by The Bay at Bloor and Yonge.

                                              Nothing like a real piece of onion .... so weird to me because I really love onion rings and pay attention.

                                              1. re: justsayn

                                                Well, it seems unlikely that you would have been served a bad batch at two different locations, so I guess we'll just have to chalk this one up to different strokes and leave it at that!

                                                1. re: Michael N

                                                  Well no! Here is where it gets interesting. I just called the location on Mavis at West Central Pkwy and asked because it just didn't make sense. I was told that their location doesn't have the machine to make them in-store so they bring them in from the outside.

                                                  I was in that area and went specifically because of an earlier thread here on CH about how good A&W ORs are. So I paid particularly close attention given that they didn't taste good to me on first bite. That is why I remember it all so well.

                                                  I guess I can call the food court too but that was quite a long while ago anyway.

                                                  1. re: Michael N

                                                    Yonge/Bloor doesn't have the machine either, but they make them in-house. So maybe they also brought them in from the outside back in the day?

                                                    OK so this is great news!

                                                    Please tell me the location to try where I am likely to get a great batch?

                                                    1. re: justsayn

                                                      Interesting! I'll let someone else weigh in on specific locations, as I don't think I've ever been to an A&W in Toronto itself. I've been to a couple of locations in Mississauga, but that's probably a bit far to travel for someone who's not already west of the city.

                                2. re: Tatai

                                  Not a fan of A & W onion rings either. Don't like the breading.

                                3. Two places come to mind.

                                  Burger Shack at Oriole Parkway and Eglinton has gigantic, juicy, chock-a-block batter-y old-school rings, while the onion rings at Great Burger Kitchen are light, crunchy and tempura-esque.

                                  Both good'uns, but I still prefer the Shack. Oh Burger Shack, the places I've gone with a Home-Banquet-Medium-Rare and an order of Rings.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: biggreenmatt

                                    I'd have to concur that Burger Shack has the best I've had.


                                      1. re: Googs

                                        Have you eaten those onion rings?

                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                          Not yet, but given the general consensus, I now consider it my duty. The Burger Shack ring pics make for good food porn, no?

                                          In my neighbourhood, I like Mama's Boys Burgers' onion rings.

                                          1. re: Googs

                                            Please do give them a try and report back!!

                                            1. re: Googs

                                              I'll have to give them a try next time I'm there. I was there Thursday for lunch but opted for Greek Fries instead.


                                    1. If you prefer batter over breaded, I once had great rings at New Toronto Fish and Chips on Fifth St. in Etobicoke. They were on the greasy side but really fresh and tasty, and the batter was excellent. Only had them the one time so maybe others have more recent info. They exceeded my grease to food quotient! I may try them again as greasiness can vary.

                                      1. depends on what style of onion ring that you like (as you can read from the responses)

                                        Unfortunately, my favourite onion rings, from Stockyards, aren't sold anymore. Do an image search for "Stockyards onion rings". The batter had pepper in it for a little extra flavour. They said they might bring back the onion rings as a special, but I've never seen it listed.

                                        there's the old school battered-style from Harvey's, Golden Star or Burger Shack. Also Gourmet Burger Company's onion rings are battered.

                                        then there's the breaded-style onion rings - Big Smoke Burger, Great Burger Kitchen, W Burger Bar - all decent.

                                        Burger's Priest doesn't do onion rings. Holy Chuck's panko-breaded onion rings are nothing to write home about.

                                        It's been years since I went to Thompson hotel diner so I can't recall their onion rings.

                                        The Works Burger has a breaded onion ring tower that I haven't tried.

                                        15 Replies
                                        1. re: mstestzzz002

                                          Yes. There are always polar opposite opinions on food stuff.

                                          Onion rings is to me is an item that they have still not figured out how to freeze and fake fresh successfully. There are some frozen fries (non-coated) that I love but I have yet to have a frozen onion ring that mimics a fresh one. I prefer fresh while others could prefer frozen. Frozen is a different product. Different enough that people could prefer frozen over fresh every time.

                                          Big Smoke is a frozen onion ring that does not approach the likes of W Burger nor Burger Shoppe on Queen E. even though they are both breaded-style onion rings.

                                          1. re: mstestzzz002

                                            +1 Harvey's, although finding a Harvey's location these days is next to impossible :(

                                            1. re: kwass

                                              Not necessarily a bad thing... though you have my sympathies, kwass

                                              1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                                                Not a fan of anything @ Harvey's except the onion rings. I miss those onion rings :(

                                                1. re: kwass

                                                  Where I am located there are a couple of convenient Harvey's locations, and I do admit to indulging in onion rings there now and then. So it is always an option.

                                                    1. re: kwass

                                                      Kwass, there is a new one in Liberty Village next to Metro.

                                                      1. re: justsayn

                                                        Good to know! Thanks justsayn.

                                                        1. re: kwass

                                                          There is also one across from Burger Priest on Queen East... burger and rings... just sayin'

                                                          1. re: JennaBean

                                                            Unfortunately, I rarely, if ever get out to the East end. I'm generally a West-end girl :)

                                                      2. re: kwass

                                                        I live near Woodbine & Danforth. There's a Harvey's off O'Connor on Dohme, and I am often nearby there, and another on Don Mills north of Eglinton, also on a regular driving route for me.

                                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                                          Thanks Full Tummy! I'll check out the one @ DM & Eglinton.

                                                          1. re: kwass

                                                            It's on the west side of Don Mills just north of the Superstore.

                                                            1. re: Full tummy

                                                              Thanks Full Tummy! I know exactly where you're talking about.

                                              2. re: mstestzzz002

                                                I only like breaded, and didn't realize I had so many options until this thread. I can comment on The Works only - they're expensive (over $10), but I liked them. Choice of two dipping sauces, chipotle mayo is good.

                                              3. I used to be an onion ring fanatic before sweet potato fries won me over. Fire Pit in Mississauga (Hurontario and Britannia ) have good onion rings.

                                                1. Thanks for all the replies. Hmmm, a lot to digest, hahaha! Looks as though the question of onion rings leads to many paths. I am even thinking of making my own. But do keep sharing opinions and any worthy contenders!!

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                    Keep watching for a tripe (or more) recommendation. Then you (and we) will have a great Ring worthy of a Birthday Indulgence !!

                                                    1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                      Edit : make that triple !

                                                      All together now : Rings, Rings, Rings, Rings, ....

                                                      1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                        I thought you were trying to make some argument for a tripe & onion rings birthday dinner

                                                  2. Another suggestion comes to mind - great onion rings @ Golden Star!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                      1. re: kwass

                                                        Thanks Kwass! So glad you ignore the haters and still share blogto posts on here. This is a great list! I see some new ones to try right away. I love the sweet potato fries at Fresh so I have no doubt the rings are great. W burger was always a favorite and I agree with rude boy. Burger Shoppe always has great rings and of course there's The Thompson.

                                                        Just today, I was at Sanagans emptying my bank account and noticed a tray of prepped rings for the fryer. They looked thick cut and lightly breaded. I will be sure to try them out too!

                                                        Good thing onion rings fall into the vegetable column of foodstuff! Thanks Kwass!

                                                        1. re: justsayn

                                                          Truth is I'd never post if I listened to the haters :)

                                                          And you're right, onion rings are definitely a vegetable...lol!

                                                          Even before this list came out, I had heard that Fresh makes fantastic onion rings. I have yet to try them, but I'm definitely going to make a point of doing so soon. Fresh uses Quinoa as the coating for their onion rings, so they're not your typical onion ring, which is probably why people love them so much. The quinoa probably adds a nice crunch.

                                                          The Thompson and W Burger Bar are 2 of my favourites as well. Sadly, I haven't tried any of the other places on the list.

                                                          Let me know when you try the ones from Sanagan's. They're probably awesome!

                                                          1. re: kwass

                                                            I will be sure to report back Kwass! Maybe I will get there next week...

                                                              1. re: kwass

                                                                Tried the onion rings at Fresh today and I can see why they rate so highly.

                                                                These are definitely the least greasy [feeling] rings out there, by a mile. The breading is VERY crisp and the onion is perfect - broadly sliced, sweet and cooked just right. The breading stayed on bite after bite.

                                                                They lacked any seasoning however so a shake of salt went a long way and then I added some pepper.

                                                                All in all, they were a little too "clean" to have cravings for. My nod still goes to The Thompson Diner and Burger Shoppe for the best of the non-batter versions!

                                                                1. re: justsayn

                                                                  Thanks for reporting back justsayn! I definitely want to try them, even if they are a slightly "healthier" version :)

                                                                  1. re: justsayn

                                                                    I finally got to try the onion rings at Fresh, and I completely agree with your assessment justsayn! So crispy and not the least bit greasy, and somehow the breading did stay on. They were definitely under-seasoned and needed salt. The only place I disagree is that I didn't find them to be "too clean". I thought they were perfect. But I see what you're saying. These onion rings don't make you feel like you've eaten something that you shouldn't have eaten.

                                                                    P & L is next on my list :)

                                                                    1. re: kwass

                                                                      I attempted Sanagan but the guy said they didn't have any.

                                                                      Did you dip your onion rings at Fresh? I didn't take the dip they offered. I imagine it would add a layer of flavour or perhaps complexity but I personally prefer onion rings without any kind of sauce other than perhaps a small splash of hot sauce.

                                                                      I think I may go on the onion ring diet and check out every version the city has to offer!!

                                                                      1. re: justsayn

                                                                        The onion ring diet is my kind of diet...lol!!!

                                                                        I didn't take one of their dips, but I had chili oil on the table, so I dipped them in that, and it definitely added a nice element to the rings.

                                                                        Funny about Sanagan's, because I recently stopped by as well, and they didn't have onion rings on my visit either. I didn't buy anything, but their take-out counter looked fantastic! They even had fried chicken on my visit. I'm definitely going to go back for lunch.

                                                              2. re: kwass

                                                                I had the Shrimp Stack Burger at Daisho the other day and found the onion rings that came with it surprisingly good.

                                                            1. re: kwass

                                                              Those are some good-looking rings! Thanks.

                                                            2. Yes? Hi! We do the lots of the eating of the onion rings and there are the many here that are the very good. The best so far is the onion rings at the Ruth's Chris. They are the super huge with the crispy coating and are the super flavourful!

                                                              1. I don't know if they are the best as I rarely eat them. However last year I had them at New Toronto Fish and Chips aka Fifth Street Fish and Chips after watching the owner cut up onions and batter them on the spot. I thought they tasted great and I'd like to hear opinions of others that have tried them here so I can get a reference point.

                                                                OT but my friend who moved to NS MUST have New Toronto Fish and Chips when she comes home to visit. It's a great childhood memory and I only go when she is here. Last summer on our annual visit, I bumped into a very old friend and co-worker of my dads (my father is deceased) so it made the visit extra special. That could also be why the onion rings tasted so good.....the linking of memories to this place.

                                                                Curious to hear others opinions about their onion rings.

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: fryerlover

                                                                  It has been maybe 3 years since my last visit and my memory is that they were excellent. Probably my favorite batter style rings at the time. Very tasty. Great onions and perfectly cooked. On the negative side though is that they were very, very greasy!

                                                                  Their fish was delicious and also on the greasy side.

                                                                  It's been there for years so I have no doubt it's equally tasty still.


                                                                  1. re: justsayn

                                                                    Not quite as good as StockYards - no pepper in the batter - but they satisfy my onion ring craving these days. Guesses?

                                                                    1. re: mstestzzz002

                                                                      Since when does Stockyards have onion rings?

                                                                      1. re: kwass

                                                                        They used to when they first opened, I asked a couple of years ago why they stopped and the owner told me they needed a dedicated fryer just for rings (onion taste?) and it was too much hassle.

                                                                        1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                                                                          I didn't think they served onion rings. I've never seen them on the menu.

                                                                    2. re: justsayn

                                                                      As soon as my friend returns next summer, I will indulge again for sure. She could not make it this year due to school so I skipped it this year.

                                                                  2. Justsayn, have you tried the onion rings at P&L? I'm thinking of going within the next couple of weeks, and I wanted to hear your thoughts.

                                                                    1. You know who makes awesome onion rings? And, I don't think they've been mentioned yet...Home of the Brave. They coat their onion rings in popcorn. They're unbelievably crispy, not at all greasy, and ridiculously good!!!!

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                                                          They're unbelievable! Unfortunately, I don't have pics.

                                                                      1. Steer Inn in Richmond Hill.
                                                                        9839 Yonge St. just south of Major Mackenzie Dr.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Snively

                                                                          My faves since the mid seventies!

                                                                          1. re: DinerGal

                                                                            When I read that Paul and Sandy's Real BBQ Co was closing down, I rushed there for two final meals, one BBQ-laden, the last one this week a burger. Their BBQ was good, but of course there's lots of BBQ around these days. What got me rushing back were their beer battered onion rings. I friggin' loved their onion rings and boy will they be missed.

                                                                            I hope they find a way to open again.

                                                                            1. re: MattHooper

                                                                              How was the burger? I always meant to try it, but every time I went there thinking I'd order it, I'd wind up getting called by the siren song of BBQ.

                                                                              1. re: Michael N

                                                                                The burger - I ordered it with smoked back bacon and cheese - was quite tasty. I enjoyed it. Though it wasn't quite as good as I was expecting if only because the patty was fairly thin, a little closer in thickness to what you'd get in a fast food chain burger like Burger King, Wendy's etc. (Though certainly theirs was fresher and more delicious). Given the over-the-top portions in their other fare, including their other sandwiches, I'd expected a thicker more substantial patty. I noted on the menu that you could order a double patty burger, and now I see why.

                                                                                Still, it was quite tasty, but their other sandwiches were indeed the star of their show.
                                                                                (I also really liked their smoked meatloaf, and I'd bet the smoked meatloaf sandwich would have been great).