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Phil's Original BBQ smokes its last brisket

Posted by Jen Hunter / February 3, 2014

Phils Original BBQ closedPhil's Original BBQ joined the deadpool last Friday. College Street locals and barbecue fans will remember the restaurant as once being amongst the best spots to head for ribs or brisket, but it appears that the influx of new competition and now established BBQ joints (such as The Stockyards and Barque) hit this smokehouse hard.

An eviction notice posted by representatives of Phil's landlords on Friday morning indicates rent in arrears totalling $31,652.76. The locks have been changed and personal property has been ordered out by this week. The notice also states an intention to recover damages for breach of contract.

In operation since 1991, when owner Phil Nyman sold his home to finance the restaurant, Phil's Original had the distinction of being one of the few survivors of The Curse of Restaurant Makeover. While the decor received the show's customary slapdash refit, Chef David Adjey didn't want to mess with the food. So did Phil's ultimately just not prove hip enough for BBQ-crazed Toronto?



michael / February 3, 2014 at 01:47 pm
Damn now both of my go the BBQ joints are gone - my other Fave that delivered closed February 1st
poopsicle / February 3, 2014 at 01:48 pm
it was bland and gross by now anyways...

Michael / February 3, 2014 at 01:57 pm
"the influx of new competition and now established BBQ joints (such as The Stockyards and Barque) hit this smokehouse hard." Horrible to use other brands as a scapegoat for what seems like obvious financial mismanagement, $31,652.76 in rent arrears!. The Stockyards isn't a new business and in a different neighbourhood, same for Barque. A shop in operation since 91' is well established and maybe didn't change with the times.
Sirron / February 3, 2014 at 01:58 pm
Never was a fan of Phil's Original BBQ. I've had better at family cook outs.
Ha Ha / February 3, 2014 at 02:00 pm
That place was so expensive that they probably only had to sell one more rack of ribs to pay back their landlord.
bob replying to a comment from Michael / February 3, 2014 at 02:03 pm
I heard it was not good...that the food was mostly covered in BBQ sauce.

I moved in literally down the street in October and never went in after talking to people around my new hood.

Plus, the area has so many deals or deal days for food/drinks and it never offered any. Not to mention the environment is more like a CoffeeTime then a trendy Ossington Establishment (which still offer deals).
Joey Brisket Face / February 3, 2014 at 02:03 pm
Don't think I've ever read such polarizing reviews on a restaurant before. Seems folks either really loved it or hated it. Unfortunately I'll never get to see for myself.
Mike / February 3, 2014 at 02:30 pm
Meat: dry! Sauces: good! So take your pick. Are you the type of eater that doesn't care much about the meat and likes to dip it in sauce OR are you the type of eater who enjoys more the flavour of meat than just whatever it is sauced in. I'm definitely the latter and that's why I never went back after trying it once. Barque has much better quality smoked meats and sauce is optional!
Warren / February 3, 2014 at 03:00 pm
I went there once. I agree with everyone who says the meat was dry. Sure, the sauce was decent, but it couldn't save the meat. Also, the service was really unenthusiastic. Both my friend and I who ate there agreed there was no point in going there again.
michael / February 3, 2014 at 03:06 pm
I LOVED the food here and when i ordered it was a choice of a Dry or a Sauced finish - i always had it sauced with extra on the side - the baked Beans were to die for as well as the Potato salad - The amount of rent arrears could be for 2 months being on College Street so maybe the recent weather (ice storm etc.) finally did them in .... I will miss Phils .....
Jeremy / February 3, 2014 at 03:07 pm
My date and I ate there a few months ago and were shocked at how small the portions were for the price. I ordered their meat combo and it honestly seemed like most of it was served fresh from a stream table having been on a BBQ much earlier. The ribs were not good, not even decent, and I love a good dry rub. Between portion size, quality of food and premium prices, I am not surprised that they had to close.
Ruth / February 3, 2014 at 03:53 pm
We loved Phil's - they had the best beans ever and we loved the pulled pork. We liked the family that ran the place and will be sad to see them go, we drove from the east end to eat there and will miss our occasional excursions with a side trip to browse the stacks at Balfour Books and a 6 pack of custard tarts from Olympia Portuguese Pastries. Thanks Phil's, all the best to you and your family.
Astin / February 3, 2014 at 03:56 pm
Went there years ago when it was still Dipamo's. I recall it being different than everything else in Toronto at the time (BBQ = grilled with tons of sauce, Dipamo's = dry BBQ). But one trip south of the border showed how far away from BBQ Toronto really was.

Now with some actual BBQ joints with pits and smokehouses and slowcooked meat, I assume Phil's didn't keep up. They went from being the closest you could get to BBQ to some middling halfway point between chains and serious BBQ.

And people are right about the price. I remember being shocked at how little meat I got for what I paid.
Gregory / February 3, 2014 at 05:28 pm
Restaurant Makeover fucked this place up anyhow. The Curse lives on.
Dean Tudor / February 3, 2014 at 05:35 pm
I liked Phils/Dipamos, I'd been going since it first opened. Dry rub appeals to me. I know it was not to everyone's taste, and sure there are lots of BBQs around town. I have no memory of anything else except ribs: which is all I wanted anyway (to hell with the sides)...

But still....
Darwin Palma / February 3, 2014 at 05:43 pm
This is really sad! I know Phil/Dipamo, his wife Gloria and the staff and this was actually one of my favorite BBQ spots in Toronto. I went there as often as I could. I'm very sad for this. I wish them the best! I hope they can re-open somewhere soon!
Ando / February 3, 2014 at 05:52 pm
Goodbye to one of the last 'non-hipster' BBQ joints in town. Phil cared about providing delicious BBQ to his customers and didn't pander to the trendy. Very sad.
Zi / February 3, 2014 at 05:54 pm
Came here a couple times in the late 90s and thought the portions were small for the price. It was tasty and I liked the dry rub and the sauces. But we always needed a snack after dinner so we stopped coming here. The second time the meat had a dry, stale taste and we decided not to try again.

Stockyards is much tastier and better value for the cost.
Niall / February 3, 2014 at 07:46 pm
WTF!? I'm legitimately bummed about his. Loved Phil's. And went regularly. Dammit.
Liam / February 3, 2014 at 08:46 pm
This place hasn't been any good for years. I feel bad for the people who made their living through the place. But it hasn't been somewhere I've wanted to eat in a very long time.
Mike / February 3, 2014 at 09:10 pm
Sorry to see another BBQ place close up, especially after being around since 1991. But if your up for the drive, and it is worth the drive, check out Hungry Hollow Smokehouse in Georgetown, just west of Brampton.... check it out online...
JBass / February 3, 2014 at 10:15 pm
Could see this coming. I walk/bike past the restaurant often. Essentially been empty for two years. Nice people too, sad.
David / February 3, 2014 at 11:12 pm
What's happening at Capitain John's floating resto on the waterfront? Anyone know? Still worth a visit?
BBE / February 4, 2014 at 12:20 am
Interesting choice to go with the stock photo that shows two other joints that have closed in the recent past. Coffee time is no more, and Telepizza is gone now too. God I miss Telepizza...
tbone / February 4, 2014 at 12:22 am
I'm surprised by the comments on price - you could get a huge sandwich with generous side for like $8 (...and isn't that what McDonald's costs now?). That may be why they couldn't pay their bills, but expensive it was not, and I didn't find the portions small.
I will say, however, that they seemed to keep strange hours. I live closeby, and often wondered why it wasn't open during regular restaurant hours.

jb replying to a comment from David / February 4, 2014 at 12:23 am
Should add it to the Canadian Navy. It would fit right in.
Cutty ranks / February 4, 2014 at 08:54 am
The Food was average but I still enjoyed it. Everytime I was here, I was the only one in the restaurant. Goodluck to phil and his staff in the future.
Benedict replying to a comment from poopsicle / February 4, 2014 at 09:01 am
That's it - KICK HIM!!!
Spike replying to a comment from David / February 4, 2014 at 09:17 am
That joke of a place is gone and is about to be destroyed anyway.
Lindsay / February 4, 2014 at 09:31 am
I only went once and I was really underwhelmed by the food. Still, sad to see someone's dream gone.
Frank / February 4, 2014 at 09:42 am
Sad to see this neighbourhood fixture go. But excited that prime restaurant real estate is opening up - what will take its place?
Dubs / February 4, 2014 at 11:25 am
Phil was a really nice guy. Ribs were terrible.
asas / February 4, 2014 at 11:36 am
not surprised. i always wanted to go here since i like me some stockyards but 6 different people have told me they gotten sick from eatting here
Joe / February 4, 2014 at 04:08 pm
After seeing Phil's featured on You Gotta Eat Here, I was anxious to try it, but I was grossly underwhelmed. Memphis BBQ in Woodbridge is, by far, my favourite place for BBQ in the GTA.
Angela / April 2, 2014 at 10:16 pm
Nooooooo not Phils...I loved the bbq, the best I've tasted by far..So freakin sad about this..
Arrbee / April 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm
I never thought this place was such great shakes...I absolutely hated coming home reeking of campfire, and the prices were obscene.
Lucy Brown / April 11, 2014 at 05:30 pm
I'm honestly shocked at some of the comments. Phil's was awesome! He was one of the originals and his food, right up to the end, was great! Real down-home BBQ! I'm incredibly sad that it's closed. There are so many people who were regulars and will miss Phil's a lot! I hope to see him cooking up some great food somewhere else very soon! I'll definitely eat wherever and whatever he's cooking up! Bye (for now) Phil, but we'll see you somewhere soon I'm sure!
pat / May 13, 2014 at 08:41 pm
I'm going to miss Gloria's cachapas - delicious vegetarian (or meat) fare.
s2scott / July 27, 2014 at 11:30 pm
I hate to say it, but the food was better a few years back. I think there was some careful aging of the meats that was no longer being done. Combine the it-was-better-when with the newer choices and nightly deals of its local restaurant neighboros and you get to this closure. Best briquet in town -- bar none -- is THE BLACK CAMEL, Crescent and Yonge (by the Rosedale subway station).
kitty / August 20, 2014 at 12:22 pm
Really bummed that Phil's has closed.
We LOVED Phil's - it was unpretentious, very friendly and the food was great. We always took visitors to Toronto there for a feast and they all loved it too. Beans were especially delicious.
Bye Phil's - hope you ressurrect somewheres else.
The Girl Who Could Explode / August 22, 2014 at 05:36 pm
Phil's was great for a pulled pork sandwich and fries. The price was very reasonable as well. $31k and change actually isn't THAT much considering rent on College street in that area is probably through the roof. That's probably 5 months Of rent, maximum. Not excusing the fact that he was still delinquent, but we do to know the full story so we shouldn't judge. So sad to have seen this place go.....
Marko / September 15, 2014 at 07:07 pm
Whoa, being from out of town this was the place to visit.... Loved the ribs, sauce and the best cole slaw we have ever had....

Please open up soon!
Allan / October 5, 2014 at 08:00 am
Went to eat at Phil's last night and was very disappointed to see it was closed. I always thought that the prices were reasonable and the food was good. Used to make the c
drive from Mississauga a couple of times a year. Started going a few years ago after seeing it on Restaurant Makeover. Was packed the first time I went. Not so much the last few times I went. Sorry to see it close. Hopefully they can open in a new spot. I will be there is it opens again. Good Luck Phil and Gloria.
Joseph / April 25, 2015 at 02:23 pm
They had their own sauce that you could buy for $5 a bottle. The sauce was awesome. I used it on all my homemade ribs....

Does anyone know of a place that sells sauce like it, or how to get in contact with the previous owners, see if they are willing to still sell their sauce?
John replying to a comment from Joseph / May 29, 2015 at 02:14 pm
I am in the exact same boat as you, I would love to have some of their sauce, or the recipe to make it myself. Nothing on the market is even close to their sauces. I know Phil made the sauce himself every few weeks, I talked to him about it, but never thought they would close, otherwise I would have bought them all up! Phil if you out there, let us purchase your BBQ sauce!!!
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