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Aug 6, 2013 08:59 PM

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.

                                                      1. re: justsayn

                                                        That's so strange that different locations prepare them differently due to equipment. The Bloor/Yonge ones are definitely hand made. You can actually see them doing it with tongs if you get a peek into the kitchen area after ordering.

                                  2. re: Tatai

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