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Eat & Drink

20 cronut burger alternatives at the CNE Food Building

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / August 27, 2013

CNE food buildingToronto Public Health released today the results of their investigation into the outbreak of food-borne illness at the CNE and as it turns out it wasn't all Epic Burger and Waffles' fault for making dozens of CNE-goers sick last week. But it was the cronut burger's fault. Or, rather, the maple bacon jam topping on the burger supplied by local bakery Le Dolci. Alas, while Le Dolci figures out how something called the Staphylococcus aureus toxin made it into their fancy jam, Epic Burgers will re-open today ready to feed jam-less burgers and waffles to the masses.

Of course, there are plenty of other, less well publicized gastronomical delights to choose from inside the wonder that is the Food Building at the CNE. Look a little closer and you'll find healthy options from organic and halal-certified kitchens, or a stall set up by your favourite local fast food place in the city. Here's a round-up of 20 stalls in the CNE Food Building worth hitting up when the hunger pains strike.

San Francesco FoodsSan Francesco Foods
You can find these classic Italian sandwiches in the east, west, and north end of the city on any given day, and they've brought some of the most well-loved menu items to the CNE. You've got veal, chicken, steak, or eggplant sandwiches ($7), or the new porchetta with mustard garlic aioli and parmesan ($8).

Taqueria Burrito Bar
In case you already spent your CNE dough gambling, this Yonge and Bloor taquiera has brought their 99 cent taco to the Food Building. You get a soft-shell corn tortilla stuffed with pulled pork or chicken and shredded lettuce, and you can choose the spiciness level. There's also a long list of mix and match burritos, nachos and burrito bowls, with meat, veggie or fish options and tons of toppings. Each other dish goes for $7.99.

Bouchards PoutineryBouchards' Poutinery
Bouchard's exhibits an unabashad—nay,proud—love for poutine, whipping up a cheesy list of Canadiana-inspired snacks. The standout, I would say, is the Lumberjack ($8.50-$10), which includes three strips of Canadian bacon and a sunnyside egg.

Bua Thai
Midtown fave Bua Thai claims to specialize in authentic Thai meals. You can get, for example, a pad Thai and a spring roll for $5.99, or a mango salad for the same price. In short, everything on the menu looks pretty accessible to even the most stringently western palate. Make of that what you will.

Spread NutellerieSpread Nutellerie
This stand has been causing a buzz this year since before the CNE even opened. And I want to eat the food they serve every single day for breakfast and as a midnight snack, thighs be damned! The "skyhigh," for example, features Nutella on French toast with cream cheese, icing sugar, strawberries and banana ($9.75). I defy you to not want to eat this.

The Colossal Onion
The Colossal Onion literally sells massive plates of just onions for $10. You can get your onions deep-fried, in ring form, or, it appears, fresh and dippable. There are also oniony nachos sprinkled with tiny chopped veggies, and those look the most meal-like of anything on the menu.

Just Cone itJust Cone It
Upon first glance, I thought this booth was serving up some seriously whack ice cream cones. Then I saw the "pizza cone" ($7.50) and realized it wasn't so. The cones are actually baked dough, and the standout, I would say, is the dirty bacon cone ($6.50), which is stuffed with bacon and nutella.

Far East Taco
KImchi fries with pork or bulgogi ($7.96). Beef dumplings ($4.42). Need I say more? You've also got a choice between tacos or bao, and are you ready for the toppings? Spicy pork and kimchi, fish, fried tofu, chicken...everything on this menu looks just as fantastic as the item before it, and I want to eat all of it as I write even though it's first thing in the morning.

Wild Childs KitchenWildChild's Kitchen
WildChild's is a health nut's haven. On its menu, you'll find refreshers like fresh-squeezed juice, (honeydew, cucumber, lemon, $5.50, anyone?) and creative ice lollies (strawberry, lime and mint is just one example). They also serve up fresh vegan, gluten free nachos, salads and wraps.

Dutch Frites
Want some bitterballen? Sounds like a formidable weapon, right? Well, it's just beef poppers, six for $5, but still. Awesome. The other chef's special when I visited were spicy Dutch poutine ($7.95) and stroopwaffel, which is a sort of cookie drizzled with caramel and cinnamon.

Daytona Chicken WingsDaytona Chicken Wings
Daytona has been operating out of the CNE for nearly 25 years. He proudly sells halal-certified, trans-fat free, baked-not-fried chicken wings, and he is happy to educate anyone who asks, especially creepy reporters.

gr serves up fresh Greek-style yogurt, with plenty unique toppings to choose from aside from the traditional nuts and berries. There's a PB & J flavour ($6.19) and a Mediterranean-style yogurt salad ($7.09), but I have to say the standout is what they brand as a kids meal: it has Oreo cookies, Smarties, chocolate sauce and honey ($6.19).

Bacon NationBacon Nation
A pretty unambiguous business model. But if you're going to clog all of your arteries at once, this place just might be worth it. Try, for example, the peanut butter and bacon milkshake ($6.65), or the beer-battered, bacon-wrapped hotdog on a stick. There's also a mix of sandwiches on the menu, which feature bacon mayo or Nutella.

Thyme & Olives
Thyme & Olives is a Lebanese-style bakery that stands as a beacon of health amidst the madness. They make traditional tabbuli salad ($4.50), the enviable veggie stuffed grape leaves (6 for $5.50), and plates of hommus served with pita for $4.50.

Hula Girl EspressoHula Girl Espresso
Bring The Kids to the CNE Day? Need a damn coffee, asap? Hula Girl is conveniently set up smack in the middle of the building, and she sells a series of sandwiches in case you suffer from blood sugar issues as well as caffeine addiction.

Ghazale is a small chain of restaurants serving up Middle Eastern street foods in the city. At their CNE booth, you'll find all the classics, with their halal-certified chicken or beef shawarma ($6.49) or made-from-scratch falafel ($4.49) as faves.

Philthy PhillysPhilthy Philly's
If Homer Simpson made a sojourn to the CNE, this would be his first stop. You'll find all forms of cheesesteak sandwiches, all under $10. I would personally go for the "supreme," which includes some nutritional value in the form of mushrooms and green peppers. Extras include such delicacies as "Cheese Whiz" and bacon.

If you like your CNE with a side of MEAT, make a beeline for Pull'd, toward the back of the buiilding. I might suggest trying the "Jack's" sandwich ($12). Though repeated grammatical idiosyncrasies that are meant to be funny are actually undeniably annoying and should be punished by severe beatings, this thing has it all: pulled pork snuggled in between three pancakes and covered in Jack Daniels-infused syrup.

Thai Chef CuisineThai Chef Cuisine
Thai Chef Cuisine, as you might be aware, also exists outside the confines of the CNE food building.You will basically different varieties of pad thai here (chicken, veggie and shrimp, all under $10), as well as their tom yum soup with veggies ($2.75) or shrimp ($3.50).

Jake's Lobster
Jake's Lobster knows the beauty of keeping things simple. They dish out lobster rolls ($13, made from fresh Atlantic lobster) and "chowdah fries" ($8) which is basically what it sounds like: clam chowder served liberally over a helping of french fries.

What do you like to eat at the CNE? Add your alternative suggestions to the comment thread below.

Top photo from Pull'd



Steven / August 27, 2013 at 02:14 pm
I'm eating at home, thank you very much.
AV / August 27, 2013 at 02:19 pm
"Junction fave Bua Thai" .... the Junction of what, Avenue and Davenport?
allison / August 27, 2013 at 03:08 pm
The cupcakes at Sweetness bakery (in the food building) are delightful.

Also the deep fried perogies (perogis?). Simple but good, when you want that deep fried taste without the meat.

The Mac and Cheesery really needs to step up their game though. Totally sub par.

Collin Ng / August 27, 2013 at 03:15 pm
stupid question, but these establishments are only opened during the CNE right?

Aside from the few listed their other locations, are they all on the fly operations, or do they ALL have other locations in the city during the other 330 some days of the year?
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from Steven / August 27, 2013 at 03:16 pm
With your own jar of jam?
Natalie / August 27, 2013 at 03:23 pm
The Jalapeno Poppers with Nutella = GROSS
Goldielover / August 27, 2013 at 03:29 pm
I tend to stick to my regulars. Felafel Hut beef shawarma for lunch, along with a fresh squeezed lemonade. Mid afternoon snack of an ear of roasted corn and an ice cream waffle. Pizza Nova pizza for dinner with a bag of Tiny Tom donuts for dessert. Plenty of water from any water fountain I can find (I hate bottled water - tastes of plastic). If hungry before leaving at night, then a box of fresh cut fries with malt vinegar is in order. And don't forget a couple of slices of fudge to take home for later. Been doing that for over thirty years. I keep telling myself to try something new every year, but almost always end up with the same old favourites.
RS / August 27, 2013 at 03:43 pm
The lobster roll at Jake's is on a slice of white bread, folded length-wise. Barely the length of your palm, and the filling is sparse. NOT worth the $12(?!) price tag. The picture they have at the booth (on an actual roll) is misleading.

The 'Chowdah' fries however, are WORTH EVERY PENNY. Fresh fries, and piles of clam chowder and fresh, perfectly cooked crumbled bacon.
ryengjoe / August 27, 2013 at 03:46 pm
I was at the cne on Saturday and I felt that attendance was way down from last year, especially since it was a gorgeous day. I bet the cronut burger incident really hurt admissions.
Johnny replying to a comment from Natalie / August 27, 2013 at 04:03 pm
Who would have thought?!
toronto dude replying to a comment from ryengjoe / August 27, 2013 at 04:11 pm
i was at the cne opening weekend on the saturday and the crowds were way down then too so it may just be a general trend and have little to do with the cronut. epic was sold out of the cronut the day we went but still had plenty of people lining up to get the other artery cloggers available at that stand like the krispy-kreme donut burger or the giant burger where the buns were whole grilled cheese sandwiches. astonishing.
Rosie / August 27, 2013 at 04:20 pm
Bacon Nation is my fave. Love their bacon-wrapped hot dog. We had a great meal at Mac & Cheesery, the deep-fried cheese curds were delicious.
I have to admit I want to try the Epic Krispy-Kreme donut burger :)
Rosie replying to a comment from Natalie / August 27, 2013 at 04:30 pm
I agree. The obsession with Nutella mystifies me. It's ok, but doesn't really taste like good chocolate. It's sort of has a plasticky-fake taste to it. I'll spend my calories elsewhere!
Shannon / August 27, 2013 at 04:47 pm
Taqueria Burrito Bar's .99cent tacos were spit-it-out disgusting. Their pulled pork is just sitting in water and their chicken is just bleh. They use the same meat for their $7.99 burritos and tacos, so stay away!

I had some of Pull'd perogies that they put on their burger and they were dry and had been left out to harden.

I was looking forward to getting a lobster roll and a bacon wrapped hot dog when I go again... sad to hear the lobster roll is small!
Alex / August 27, 2013 at 04:56 pm
Lick's is usually my go-to place at the CNE for lunch or dinner.
toronto dude replying to a comment from Rosie / August 27, 2013 at 04:57 pm
yeah i felt the same way...i'd be more enticed by just saying something is coated in dark chocolate than in nutella.
in the nutella commercial where they say with a cup of skim milk and a dozen real hazelnuts in each jar, it's a good breakfast for kids.......sure if you ignore the dozens of additives and the 12 cups of sugar in every's a great breakfast for kids.
joy / August 27, 2013 at 06:34 pm
The poutine from Bouchard's was disgusting. I didn't think it was possible to mess up poutine but they did.
CEntreal / August 28, 2013 at 01:07 am
justin / August 28, 2013 at 05:48 pm
Dutch Frite is my main place for great authentic Dutch food

-Frites Speciaal: Diced onions, Dutch mayo, and topped with our signature CURRY ketchup.

-Frites Indo: Crispy onions bits, scallions, and topped
justin / August 28, 2013 at 05:51 pm
forgot the signature GARLIC mayo on frite Indo

-Frites Oorlog: Diced onions, Dutch mayo, and topped with our signature PEANUT Sate sauce. (My Favourite) real Sate sauce not the stuff in Chinese resturants
MrsP / August 28, 2013 at 11:44 pm
$10 for an onion?
parkplay / August 29, 2013 at 12:51 pm
Yum. I survived the cronut burger so I got this t-shirt
Utterly pent content material, appreciate it for entropy. "He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak." by Michel de Montaigne.
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