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May 1, 2003 04:49 PM

best burgers in T.O.

  • j

apache burgers in the west end of toronto. dundas just west of kipling.

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  1. In Scarborough, you have to go to Johnny's....on Vic Park (southeast corner at Sheppard Ave. E.)

    burgers are $2 something!!!

    26 Replies
    1. re: goober
      Mississauga Matt

      Now you're talking!

      I had the good fortune of growing up about a mile from Johnny's, and to this day I still have found if not hazy memories of being drunk out of my gourd and filling that craving that we all get in the inebriated state by chowing down on a Johnny's cheeseburger, fries, and Coke.

      In those days they always had more guys behind the counter than customers in front, which is saying something given the steady turnover. Most if not all of the guys were Greek, and the place could very well have been the prototype for the "no Coke, Pepsi" Saturday Night Live sketch.

      My favourite part was that they used to bend the burger in half to check for doneness. Then they'd slap it on a slightly toasted white bun with lots of French's-quality mustard.

      My sensible side says that these aren't the greatest burgers in T.O., but man, I'm salivating right now.

      Next time I visit my parents, I'm popping in!

      1. re: Mississauga Matt

        Yeah, Johnny's isn't the greatest....but that place has a mystique about it, like California Sandwiches and Carousel Bakery (at St. Lawrence Market).

        Those places are an experience - beyond the food!

        1. re: goober

          That's one thing I really missed when I first moved to this area from Windsor...the excellent burgs you could find in Essex County. I really wish I knew of a place in TO like Gilligan's in Windsor, where there are many different types of burgers (and meats) in many different sizes (because sometimes you feel like a little one, and sometimes you just have to stuff as much meat as your body can handle) :)

          1. re: james

            burger-shack is far and away the best burger joint "uptown." the frozen burgers are nothing to write home about (i haven't had one in about 9 years). however, the homemade burgers are superb. ask for it medium and you won't be sorry. their fries are certainly above average and blow licks' out of the water. furthermore, the prices are solid and supporting small independant places like that always feels good. don't sleep on the shack.

            1. re: jordan

              Burger Shack - Eglinton and Oriole PArkway - amazing. Try their chicken souvlaki, and be sure to get lots of napkins..

              Burger Shack
              233 Eglinton Ave W, Toronto, ON M4R1A9, CA

              1. re: FraidyMan

                Totally agree! I even love their fries and shakes. I still need to try their Greek food being the owners are Greek but I always get a burger there despite my best efforts:)

        2. re: Mississauga Matt


          You must have grown up near me....I've never been to Johnny's by choice...there is nothing great about the burgers...word of warning...don't get a burger when the Leafs are on as the flippers are more interested in the Leafs.

          Yeah, they do love the French's mustard there.

        3. re: goober

          Please. Johnny's is garbage. All they do is take a pre-formed frozen patty out of a cardboard box that they buy in bulk and slap it on their grill. It tastes like an out of the box burger. I tried it once to see what the hype is all about. Never again.

          Whatever happened to Lick's? Have they shut down all their branches?

          1. re: BeenThere
            Kevin Bertsch

            Oh, please. Johnny's is an institution. Of course they use pre-fab burgers and fries. These guys are short-order cooks, not chefs. The secret is to go for the steak on a kaiser - although, having worked across the street at the now-defunct Texaco station for four years, I scarfed down many a cheeseburger, and still go back from time to time for nostalgia's sake. The steak was tender, heavily salted and garliced, and a great treat.

            As for Lick's - they have franchised, and are expanding like crazy. On yonge St. from Finch to Elgin Mills, they have three locations - more than McDonald's! My kids now think Lick's burgers are the best available, much to my pocket book's chagrin. Their big gimmick was (and is) the staff sing songs as the orders come in; it's cute the first few times, but we keep coming back because the burgers are so good. But I can't see buying their uncooked patties to take home - they are so damn expensive, why not just grind some good quality chuck and season it yourself?


            1. re: Kevin Bertsch

              Johnny's is an institution? Institution of what? Cardboard burgers? I don't know anything about the steaks. The steaks may be good. But, this thread is about the "best burgers" and not about the steaks.

              I have tried their burgers, but I haven't tried their steaks. Actually I had the burger only once and it was AWFUL. Never going back there again.

              The Lick's burgers are the best I have tasted in Toronto. But there is no location close to me.

              1. re: BeenThere

                If you're from the area you would totally understand why Johnny's is an institution. Went to high school around the corner and Johnny's not John Anderson's was the burger of choice at lunch. Also, many a drunk night was spent in on those pic nic table enjoying their cheeseburger. So maybe it is a pyschological thing but Johnny's cheeseburger with fried onions tomates and bbq sauce still my favorite frozen patty and all.

                There are Licks all over the place .... if you've been to Johnny's then there is a licks at york mills/don mills one at cummer/yonge and one at yonge/south of 7.

                1. re: fiasco

                  lick's is decent, similar but inferior to Groucho's (eglinton and also bayview) neither of which are cheap like Johnny's, the once and future king of greasy goodness. The Senator (open only for lunch) and Allen's on the Danforth are also good if you don't mind spending $10 for prime meat.

                  1. re: Dan

                    I tried Johnny's once and wasn't impressed. Frozen burgers don't get me all excited.

                    Lick's used to be fantastic but since the explosion of franchises it's gone downhill.

                    If you're on Yonge, north of Major Mac there's Three Coins on the west side. Outstanding burger and huge to boot. You don't need fries with that.


                    1. re: Davwud

                      The only problem with the the Three Coins (which is just around the corner from my place) is it closes at 3:00 pm - yes, that's PM. I have enjoyed many a breakfast there, but any place that doesn't stay open past 3 in the afternoon can't be a great burger joint; 3 AM would help it qualify.

                    2. re: Dan

                      My pal and I went to Allen's on teh Danforth yesterday for lunch - we both had the "organic sirloin" burger and man-o-man was it good! With a side of their their sweet potato fries that put all else to shame.

                      1. re: Joshman

                        How much is the burger at Allan's and does it come with fries, or is that separate?

                        1. re: red dragon

                          I think it's about $8. Fries are extra.

                    3. re: fiasco

                      Cummer and Yonge has been closed for months now.
                      The location at Yonge and 7 was awful last time I was there.

                  2. re: Kevin Bertsch

                    There is a Lick's at Pape and Danforth.

                    1. re: Kevin Bertsch

                      Are you kidding me? Their burgers are horible, the service is absolutely distasterous and the place is falling a part. The only good thing about the place is the extended hrs and if you have nowhere else to go that was an alternative

                      1. re: nickdodes

                        Licks is now a "burger boutique". Are they serious? Licks was once my favourite burger, until they changed the recipe. Their burgers just don't taste the same as I remember them. They seem more peppery or they added some "spice"/ingredient like they're trying to mask something. There's nothing that competes with a simple burger that gives you the flavour of smoke and beef. The Licks at Morningside Crossing has good service, but again the burgers just aren't the same as they used to be.

                        1. re: scarberian

                          When Licks first opened, their burgers were freshly made at each location - never frozen. After expanding and franchising, they eventually went to frozen, preformed burgers and I agree, they have never been the same since!

                  3. re: goober

                    Craft Burger on King near Bathurst it's the best so far, they have an Organic burger and I believe they even have a Buffalo burger, try their Garlic Mayo.. OMFG it's goood..they have gourmet toppings such as grilled mushrooms with rosemary, caramelized onions.. etc....there fries are even good, but if you don't like fries you have an option of onion rings or even salad.. Just a note seating is's a small place...and the meat is all fresh not pre-cooked and no fillers..

                    1. re: lovleyladyT

                      Too bad I didn't have the same experience at Craft. I found it very underwhelming and average. Burger was ok. It was juicy but gourmet toppings? Everyone's got those now, it's not a point of difference anymore. Good burger, good bun, that's what makes a burger in my opinion. Oh, and also, it's not only that there is limited seating, the seating that IS available, is usually dirty. It's a pretty grungy place that no one ever seems to mention in their reviews.

                      1. re: lovleyladyT

                        I'm glad your overall experience is better than the one time I decided to give Craft Burger a shot. My burger was so chewy and full of gristle that my jaw actually hurt after eating it. Never again.

                        1. re: redearth

                          That's unfortunate. I've eaten at Craft maybe ten times, and while I don't think that it's a fantastic burger by any stretch, it's a decent one that's better than many other places and I've never had a problem with gristle.

                    2. Groucho's and Licks's (both chains) serve very good burgers, way better than Mickey D's or the rest. Also try Burger Shack at the corner of Avenue Road and Eglinton Avenue West. Banquetburger, fries (fresh cut) and a drink for $6.25 all in.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: LuckyChucky


                        I think there are still a whole bunch of Lick's locations. I am sure a search will find them for you, or a Canada411. I know the one in the Beach is still there and swamped on weekends.

                        These were always my favorites even though I go there not too frequently. I went about six weeks ago and the burger tasted really different. It had that kind of springy... sausage like... prefabricated bounciness to it, rather than the real garlicly meatiness it used to have. I thought it was kind of like what a Harvey's burger would taste like if they made them that thick.

                        I am wondering if I got a really bad batch or if they have changed their product? Anyone know? If that is what I am going to get from Lick's from now on I think I'll skip them and go for the chicken or just go elsewhere...

                        Wondering if anyone else has noticed this...

                        Oh... and you can now buy Lick's burgers at Dominion to cook at home!

                        1. re: Taryn

                          LICKS!!! I've tried many of these other aforementioned burger places- Apache, Wimpy's, Webers, etc... and Licks is still the best. Plus, you can't beat the in-store entertainment (aka poor employees forced to sing oldies!!!)

                          1. re: Tiffany

                            There is a Wimpy's in it in any way connected to the UK Wimpy's chain?

                          2. re: Taryn

                            Lick's has moved away from small scale, in-store burger creation. Their burger patties are now commercially made with commercial fillers as well. Hence their grocery store packaged burgers! I've stopped going for a couple of years now because of this move.

                            1. re: Taryn

                              Same thing happened to me a few weeks ago. I bragged to my BF about how great the 'Gobbler' was (turkey burger) and when he brought it out, it was a pre-formed, rubbery, tasteless patty. It used to be ground turkey with a lovely garlic taste. No more.

                          3. For a really good hole-in-the-wall experience, try "The Chicken and Burger Place" in Etobicoke at Dundas just East of Kipling, or 5096 Dundas St West (I just looked it up!). Great (and huge!) Banquet Burgers, but the best burger on the menu is the Mixed Burger (there is a Polish/Eastern European name for it which I cant remember). Although not strictly a burger, as the Large Mixed Burger is served sans a split bun (it's way too big), it's awesome - a huge patty stuffed with feta and onions, served with fries and half a raw onion (the pungent sweetness REALLY goes well with it, but it's only for those who dig that sort of thing!) on the side. I used to get this as a treat every weekend - almost makes me want to drive up there a few times (moved quite some distance since).

                            Give it a try! :)

                            1. i haven't been there in awhile, but Wimpy's isn't bad.

                              They serve up a thin, but plate-size patty.

                              1. The Golden Star at Yonge and Steeles has been around forever. They make delicious, juicy homeburgers! I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: KarenK

                                  Oh yeah, Golden Star! What do they put in their patties? Onion, garlic...very tasty. Their rings and fries are good, too.

                                  1. re: Lat K.

                                    I don't know, but I feel like Pavlov's dog whenever I think about them! Gotta love the 70's decor too.

                                    1. re: KarenK

                                      I worked at the gas station across the street for two years. I practically lived off the homeburgers.
                                      They're great. At least, in the 80's they were. Haven't been in years


                                      1. re: Davwud

                                        you can't go wrong with golden star...make sure to get the HOMEBURGER, and not the other original burger.

                                        1. re: good_eats

                                          Woohoo thanks! I drive by Golden Star ALL THE TIME (I buy groceries from a few places on Doncaster) and have been very curious about it.

                                          WILL TRY IT OUT =)