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Restaurants

The Burger's Priest (Yonge St.)

Posted by Simon Yau / Reviewed on January 24, 2012 / review policy

Burger's Priest Yonge StreetThe Burger's Priest has, without any irony, developed a pretty ardent cult following. Opened in the summer of 2010, Shant Mardirosian's local paean to flat top franchise In-N-Out has conquered Toronto's burger scene in just one short year.

Openly aping In-N-Out's fresh, never frozen beef philosophy (also: the franchise's secret menu), the Priest has attracted a steady stream of burger fans from across the GTA willing to make the pilgrimage to Queen and Coxwell.

The fast food restaurant caused a local frenzy when news broke it would be opening a more subway accessible second location on Yonge Street north of Lawrence Avenue (you'll still have a bit of a walk from the station). After some initial delays, the highly anticipated expansion debuted roughly a week ago, and it hasn't taken long for the new Priest to attract a flock.

Burger's Priest Yonge Street Two days after opening, a weeknight visit finds the restaurant so full we can't even squeeze ourselves into the door. From afar it looks as though the small storefront is trying to set a Guinness World Record for most patrons rammed into a single hamburger joint.

A return trip on Friday afternoon proves more manageable. There is still a steady stream of customers filling three quarters of the room, featuring an eclectic mix of business types who've made the lunch trek from Sheppard or Eglinton, and local kids in school uniforms.

Substantially larger than the Priest's original restaurant, the uptown expansion projects much of the same spartanism as its predecessor. A plain white counter wraps around two sides of the long and narrow room, seating roughly 15 patrons on bar stools — a modest but relatively spacious improvement over the decidedly take-out targeted trappings of the Queen St. locale.

The casual, contemporary vibe is accentuated with a black tin roof and white, exposed brick accent wall that provides stark contrast to the dark ceiling and paint. Perhaps the most glaring upgrade however is functional rather than aesthetic: the new location has washrooms. For customers to use. Hallelujah!

Burger's Priest Yonge StreetWe order one Priest ($9.99, a single beef patty topped with fried portobello mushrooms and processed cheese) and a Noah's Ark ($11.28, a Priest, slathered in chilli cheese sauce). We pair up our burgers with regular fries ($3.29) and a strawberry milkshake ($4), the drink a new menu offering currently exclusive to the uptown location.

The cashier taking our order is friendly enough, but we notice a bit of a kink when she asks if we'd like our meal as a combo despite a lack of pricing for this on the hymnal board menu. This is a minor service nitpick, but indicates that despite a constantly packed house, the nascent expansion is still going to suffer from a few growing pains.

I can safely report, however, that the burgers are still very, very good.

The signature, freshly ground beef patty is griddle cooked to perfection, slightly pink on the inside, crumbling just slightly and sopping an appropriate amount of juices into the simple white bread bun. Our fried mushroom topping stuffed with cheese is perfectly crispy on the outside, revealing a delicious and gooey blob of dairy with every bite.

Burger's Priest Yonge StreetThe strawberry milkshake is also an above average offering, served in a no-frills dixie cup and viscous enough that sucking it through the provided straw is no simple feat. It isn't a gourmet shake and has the signature taste of artificial strawberry flavouring — but that's expected and it delivers in the best of traditional diner ways.

The fries, however, leave something to be desired. Usually a well seasoned, perfectly crispy treat, the potatoes we get this meal overly cooked on the outside and slightly undercooked on the inside. The spuds aren't atrocious, but they're definitely not good. Certainly they're not up to snuff compared to past experiences at the restaurant. Again, the chewy potatoes should be chalked up to a new location still getting its legs under it.

At $33 dollars for two cheeseburgers, one serving of fries and a milkshake, one would hope every experience at the Burger's Priest is exceptional. It's earned more than enough goodwill to earn the benefit of the doubt, so I expect these wrinkles will be ironed out as the new outpost settles in.

Burger's Priest Yonge Street

Discussion

67 Comments

Smirnoff / January 24, 2012 at 09:18 am
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Umm...those fries look a bit overcooked. Certainly not like the ones sold down on Queen.

I hope this location doesn't fall into the same mediocricity of the rest of that strip of Yonge...
Erik / January 24, 2012 at 09:40 am
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Question that will come out snarky even though it's not intended to be snarky: The writer uses the term "franchise," which I'm pretty sure Burger's Priest isn't. Is it?
Simon replying to a comment from Erik / January 24, 2012 at 09:44 am
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That's a good point Erik. No, as far as I know Burger's Priest isn't a franchise. I used the word in reference to In-and-Out and my brain seems to have gotten a bit lazy with the vocab.

It would be incorrect to call BP the same. Thanks for catching that!
iSkyscraper / January 24, 2012 at 09:48 am
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This is great news, and an upbeat review, and I'm sorry to be a downer by reminding everyone again that they live in Canada, but that same order of 2 cheeseburgers, fries and shake would cost $8.40 at In'n'Out in California. One quarter the Priest price of $33. Ouch.
Dan / January 24, 2012 at 09:56 am
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Had my first BP experience a couple weeks ago at the new Yonge St. location, and I'm a convert. I ordered a vatican-style cheeseburger off the secret menu (grilled cheese instead of buns), and it was delicious. The meat was soft and perfectly cooked. The grilled cheese buns were flattened down on the grill so that you could actually fit the burger into your mouth. This wasn't just a novelty, they engineered it so you can actually eat it.

My only complaint is that, given how insanely busy it is in the place, you can't really eat your burgers in the restaurant, and by the time you get them home they've cooled off a little bit. But, the crowds in the restaurant add to the 'event-like' atmosphere - don't go if you're not prepared to be smooshed like sardines, and to make friendly chitchat with the people around you in line. If you want a quick, antisocial burger, there'sa McDonald's across the street.
Michelle / January 24, 2012 at 10:02 am
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The original location doesn't have signage for the combo's either.
Derek / January 24, 2012 at 10:10 am
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The original Burger's Priest location has been corrected. Thanks to those who pointed out this error.
Lucas replying to a comment from Simon / January 24, 2012 at 11:21 am
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It would also be incorrect to call In-N-Out a franchise. As far as I know it is still a privately owned company NOT a franchise as claimed.

Also Burger Priest is not trying to emulate In-N-Out (like they claim), they are clearly trying to imitate Shake Shack. And you don't have to go far, the option is a clear rip-off of the Shroom Burger. Priest uses green leaf lettuce like Shake Shack (In-N-Out uses iceberg).
Bobby / January 24, 2012 at 11:52 am
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One of the biggest branding fails ever
Bobby / January 24, 2012 at 11:56 am
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Apparently in the Franchising industry BP is looking to franchise. From the sounds of it they are putting all the necessary paper work in place to franchise across Canada. If they are not not they will be shortly.
B / January 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm
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@bobby
Wrong.
K / January 24, 2012 at 01:04 pm
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Once tried to order off the secret menu. Was able to describe the burger but forgot the name. Staff found it appropriate to not serve us. Burgers are great but not great enough to make for bad service and attitude. Queen East location.
cathie / January 24, 2012 at 01:07 pm
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Those fries are looking pretty nasty. I've only eaten here once (at the Queen location) and while it was very good, I'll stick with my old fav, The Golden Star, cheaper and just as good, if not better, than the BP.
Michelle replying to a comment from Simon / January 24, 2012 at 01:12 pm
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Hey Simon and Erik! Actually, that's not completely incorrect. It's not a franchise NOW, but Shant has been very vocal that this is his goal...
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Lucas / January 24, 2012 at 01:13 pm
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Lucas, that makes more sense. I have not lived in Toronto for 12 years so I'm out of date on my 416 burger experiences (I still long for Harveys).

Five Guys is a blatant rip-off of In'n'Out, which filled the franchise void that InO refused to fill. Burger Priest does seem to be chasing the Shake Shack uber-cool model more than the red-and-white tiled In'n'Out/Five Guys. Two cheeseburgers, fries and a shake will run you a big line, lots of pretty people and about $17 at Shake Shack, so I still don't understand how Torontonians put up with those BP prices, but it's a closer fit design-wise.

For my money, you still can't beat Webers on Highway 11. Damn but those burgers and seasoned fies are tasty when eaten roadside. And not nearly as expensive as they once seemed.
Kat / January 24, 2012 at 01:25 pm
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My boyfriend used to live right beside Burgers Priest on Queen. We have been maybe twice. We find that the burgers are severely overpriced and overrated for how little they are. We're always hungry after we finish our meal. They're better than McDonalds, yes, but if I could get a McDonalds combo for the price of just a burger from BP, I'll go for McDonalds any day.
Catalpah replying to a comment from K / January 24, 2012 at 01:34 pm
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They are hypocrites, I say! Why the he11 is there a secret menu anyway? More BS like all the writing on the walls. A church luncheon this sure ain't!
Sambots / January 24, 2012 at 01:37 pm
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Does anyone know if this location is open on Sundays?
nah / January 24, 2012 at 01:39 pm
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i love these hamburgers and have been a very vocal supporter since the first time i had one a year and a bit ago but holy shit, the scripture on the wall has been enough to convince me that i'll never step foot in that lawrence location. what a complete and utter turn off. also, the owner of this place is a gigantic dick.
Michael / January 24, 2012 at 02:04 pm
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Has anyone ordered off the secret menu? I don't want to attempt to order a secret menu item and get a blank look from the staff
w-hat replying to a comment from Kat / January 24, 2012 at 02:36 pm
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You must have a gigantic appetite to be hungry after eating a burger and fries at burger priest. A double cheesburger and fries there has to be 800 calories minimum.
Gravy Train / January 24, 2012 at 02:39 pm
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Tried to go there when it opened this month. So tiny and packed that I just said forget it and went down the street to Holy Chuck Burger. Holy Chuck's service was courteous and made sure everything was done right. Also there was ample seating and room in the restaurant and a legible menu with explanations, something that Burger's Priest should consider to satisfy customers. From another review online based on a blind taste test Holy Chuck beat Burger's Priest by a hair. My jury is still out on Burger's Priest should I even get the chance to step foot inside.
Ryan L. / January 24, 2012 at 02:49 pm
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I think people are confused what the "secret menu" is. The owners didn't create a list of items to offer to people in the know. From what I understand, they were all special requests from customers that were given their own name. If you walk in and order one, its a special request, so don't expect them to fullfill it when they're busy; you wouldn't expect any other restaurant to do the same.
The Other Neil / January 24, 2012 at 03:00 pm
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I am going to hit this place up and order everything animal style.
Ryan L. replying to a comment from Gravy Train / January 24, 2012 at 03:22 pm
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Nice try, owner of Holy Chuck.
Sean replying to a comment from K / January 24, 2012 at 03:57 pm
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Snarky attitude, borderline useless menu (if someone walks in there the first time, how are they going to know what "What's Right" or "The Option" is?), a secret menu, laced with grease, not enough room, prices are too high, etc. Whenever I order it feels like they're (grudgingly) doing me a favour by selling me their food.

The Priest is my favourite burger in the city BUT in general BP is so overrated its not even funny. The Priest is the only reason why I don't cut them out and go to Holy Chuck instead (and Holy Chuck is pretty expensive too).
Sean replying to a comment from w-hat / January 24, 2012 at 04:01 pm
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You don't need a gigantic appetite for that. 800 calories (seeing how greasy their food is, I'd be willing to be its more as a big Mac and fries is about 800 IIRC) is not that much. Look at the Dish from the Toronto Star and you'll see a 1/4 chicken w/ veggies at Loblaws is 900 calories, breakfast at Cora's can top 1,320 calories, 1/4 chicken at the Real Jerk is ~1100 calories and ~3200mg sodium. Not to mention that a sub at Subway or Quiznos can easily cross 1,000 calories once you add cheese and sauce.
Dan replying to a comment from Michael / January 24, 2012 at 05:16 pm
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A quick google search will bring it up pretty easily
Dan replying to a comment from Sean / January 24, 2012 at 05:18 pm
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When I went, there was an employee roaming the line explaining the menu to people. The cashier was also pretty patient in explaining it to people. I agree it would make more sense to have descriptions up on the board, but it's not a huge deal.
James / January 24, 2012 at 06:42 pm
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Not bad but not even the best take-out on the block. Go ten doors north and try BellyBusters. Best subs in the city for decades. Amen
Greg / January 24, 2012 at 06:46 pm
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Priest is totally overrated.
hop / January 24, 2012 at 08:25 pm
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It might be to much to ask, but I'd love to see a burger place in Toronto use potato rolls. I think that's what really makes Shake Shack, as well as the great slider joints in Northern New Jersey, so over the top delicious. Would also be great to see some places play around with their blends. An all-chuck burger is good, but it certainly is not great. You haven't had a burger until you've had one with short rib in it.

I've been putting off the Burger's Priest for a while and with this new location there really is no excuse. But the fries and shakes do look like they could use some work.
Foghorn O'Kalashnikov / January 25, 2012 at 10:13 am
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I live a few blocks from the Coxwell location (which I hope they don't forget as they expand elsewhere). I wouldn't travel for Burger Priest, especially given you have to wolf the food down in a packed room if you don't live nearby, but for a local it's a good spot. The food is definitely expensive but for a once every 6 weeks treat, dropping into the place (and the LCBO handily located next door) for friday evening dinner on a rainy night or whatever it's tasty comfort food.
Gabe / January 25, 2012 at 01:53 pm
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Shake Shack NYC burgers are way better. I moved there recently and don't miss Toronto at all.
what? / January 25, 2012 at 08:08 pm
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okay, so this comment has nothing to do with burgers but why would someone who doesn't miss Toronto at all read a blog about Toronto? why even post?
TJ / January 26, 2012 at 11:59 am
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It's more expensive than the fast-food chains but isn't as generically frozen or precessed patties. At the same time, the appearance is no more appealing than some fast-food burger, fries, and pop. I'm not sure how I feel about BP because paying $10 for standard burger, pop, and fries seems like quite a lot.
Gembah replying to a comment from Gabe / January 26, 2012 at 01:02 pm
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You STFU.
Grant / January 26, 2012 at 06:08 pm
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I've been past this location twice now, both time PACKED with customers,
no way i was going to wait that long. The owners must be scouting another
new location already. Good for them, hope it works out.
Gabe replying to a comment from what? / January 27, 2012 at 02:33 pm
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You're just jealous because I live in NYC and you don't
Sally replying to a comment from Gabe / January 30, 2012 at 01:22 pm
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No Gabe, most of us feel sorry for you. NYC has some really great burgers, but you need a Kevlar vest when you stand in line.
burger mania / January 30, 2012 at 01:32 pm
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Burger's Priest is the best.
I've had a few burgers in my day, Shake Shack (awesome), In-N-Out (really good), Holy Chuck, Golden Star, Craft, Burger Cellar, Burger Shoppe.. all very tasty. But I still rate Burger's Priest at the top. The flavouring of the meat can't be beat..
jaq / January 31, 2012 at 02:34 pm
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I agree the burger's are great, but the religious undertones annoys the hell out of me. Has anyone seen their website?
Now that the writing is literally on the wall, I don't know if I'm ordering a burger or getting converted.
No one's holding a gun to face, and I'm sure they won't miss one customer but it seems a little ridiculous.
Deacon James replying to a comment from jaq / January 31, 2012 at 04:43 pm
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What kind of place is this that offers manifests of temptations of the cholesterol-ophic kind? Next thing you know they'll be serving deviled eggs and bishop's noses! Flee in haste!
Mikey / February 1, 2012 at 09:18 am
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That is one tasty Burg
Allen / February 3, 2012 at 03:20 pm
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It's pretty ridiculous how somehow Burger Priest gets a review when they have been in the area for 2 weeks. When Bellies (The Belly Buster Submarines) has been there for over 30 years and is hands down the best sub in the city, price and quality. I find it hilarious how people in this city will pay $15 for a overhyped burger and fries, when a gem (the turkey bacon sub with it's 4 slices of bacon!) for under $8 sits 5 doors down. Good job BlogTo for giving kudos to someone who's ripping Torontonians off instead of hailing a man thats much cheaper and better. Subway and Mr. Sub don't even compare not to mention some overhyped burger place.

Steve replying to a comment from burger mania / February 6, 2012 at 10:00 pm
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you think Priest is better then Shack, your nuts!
sativa replying to a comment from Lucas / February 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm
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why are you so weird and defensive? who cares who they're ripping off? shake shack is too far away, it's good to have a delicious option right here.
moe replying to a comment from Allen / March 1, 2012 at 12:49 am
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go to heaven dude.
SupaD replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / April 25, 2012 at 11:46 pm
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Webers? Dude, apparently your taste buds were left on the side of the road as well.

Good news is you can get them in your grocer's freezer.

Your one of those guys that votes PizzaPizza as the best pizza in the city arent you?
ariel / April 26, 2012 at 02:45 am
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very snobish place... for stupid people who needs to follow the trend. No personality only fake attitude. goood burger thou.
Yup replying to a comment from ariel / June 11, 2012 at 05:50 pm
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I totally agree. I was there yesterday to give it a try. Possibly the most snobbish place in the city. They think they're god or something, Just remember you flip burgers for a living to a bunch of stupid trend following hipsters. Will not go back, the burger wasn't even that good and the fries were soggy.
Marvindale II replying to a comment from Yup / June 12, 2012 at 10:12 am
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The owner of this shack believes hype will bring in flocks of sheep to buy his greasy wares. Maybe he's right. Lord knows. You won't catch me in there; I am the disciple of the WORKS.
tommy / June 13, 2012 at 10:46 pm
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You haters can't deny that the guy has the best burgers in Toronto. You're there to buy a burger not to make friends. If you want make friends go on facebook.
Deacon James replying to a comment from tommy / June 14, 2012 at 08:36 am
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Sure, I always take a side of enemies with my burgers. Glad to hear they don't charge for the attitude and ugly faces they make at you when you ask for something. Pure grease-coated entertainment at the Burgers Troll.
Lily / June 18, 2012 at 01:32 pm
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Went here today with my cousin and ordered 6 burgers. When we got home we realized we had only been given 5 and that the toppings were all wrong. We called them and all we got was a snarky, aggressive attitude refusing to acknowledge their mistake: "Whether the order was punched in wrong or you forgot to order I can't say, so I don't know what you want me to do."

That's a hell of a lot of attitude for an overrated burger place that can't get their orders right.

NEVER AGAIN.
terrible / December 2, 2012 at 11:19 pm
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this place is garbage. plain and simple. nothing special to see here.
Electric Meat / December 8, 2012 at 02:54 pm
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$33 for two burgers, fries and a shake? Ouch. I'd much rather just get a lovely Wimpy's on the Danforth and save myself a 10-spot. No burger, other than some pretentious high-end crap (which this very might well be), could even remotely be worth approaching $40 for two cheeseburgers, fries and a shake. I don't care how much crap McDonald's takes sometimes, if I can at least say I'm not wasting that kind of money eating there!

-Orgrod.
MIke / March 15, 2013 at 11:10 am
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After being a regular at the Beach location once they opened, the service and attitude of the staff took a nose dive. The music was too loud and the cashier could not hear me. She told the cook to turn it down, he told her what she could do. The next visit the burger was raw, so I sent it back only to be told this is how we serve them. I know the difference between raw and cooked!.

The next visit, the staff we too busy messing up all the orders because they were screwing around. Everyone was upset.

So 3 strikes your out. What was our go-to burger place, got knocked off the list.

This seems to happen a lot in the Beach. A place opens, has great food and service. After a couple of years the staff don't care any more.

Casa De Georgio fell into the same hole.
George / January 5, 2014 at 06:14 pm
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At these prices I want to be served and by a good looking waitress in a short skirt. $15 for a burger otherwise?? NOT coming back
justanasshole / January 9, 2014 at 12:51 am
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Ate here once. Was hungry afterwards...

Tiny, unseasoned burgers. Tiny bulk-basic buns. Chintzy fries. $15!

The toppings were awesome though! Got some stuffed mushroom thing that was delicious... but the rest of it?

Fuck that; never again.
justanasshole replying to a comment from Marvindale II / January 9, 2014 at 12:52 am
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Replying to a comment from Marvindale II:

The Works is great! If only they served beer....
Pearl / March 25, 2014 at 11:48 am
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Does anyone know what kind of bun BP uses and where they get them from? I love potato buns. I know that's the type Shake Shack uses and it tastes very similar to the BP bun but I can't find an equivalent in TO. Any got any ideas?
haps replying to a comment from Kat / August 15, 2014 at 12:14 pm
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well said
totally agree
imagine taking a family of 4 out for dinner at BP. Well north of 50 bucks and still be hungry.
Snide Syd replying to a comment from haps / August 15, 2014 at 02:55 pm
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Hold on a second, friend. Perhaps priest-meister is doing a service to customers by 1. Keeping the prices high to fit in with Toronto resto traditions (don't shake da boat) and 2. Make the grease bombs they serve small to keep your ever-loving arteries of exploding on the spot. It makes no sense to open a resto if ambulances have to arrive often,Dig?
aadam / September 19, 2014 at 05:26 pm
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Okay guys it was my first time today. So finally had a cheeseburger and very disappointed. What is with Toronto and hype? Basically nothing special and when I got home my mother asked if I have eaten and of course I said NO
The smallest burger, expensive too... it is no good
What is with you guys and HYPE HYPE HYPE?
Ken / October 11, 2014 at 10:48 am
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OVER PRICED & BAD EXPERIENCE.

The burgers are good but extremely overpriced for what it is.
The staff flipped the close sign and turned up the music to a ridiculously loud volume at 10:20 while we were still sitting and trying to eat our meal along with a few others. They made us feel unwelcome and gave us funny looks when we entered at 10:15 to order and they were turning customers away before 10:30, which is the closing time on the sign. If I wanted to hear really bad karaoke then I would have gone to a karaoke bar, not burger priest.
Staff are the face of the company, make sure you choose people who will represent you well so that customers will overlook the price to have something from the secret menu.
We understand that is a Friday night and the staff wants to get out of work but for the same token clients are the reason why the place stays open.
Sue / December 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm
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I order from the secret menu. 1 three horsemen burger with chilli cheese fries and a vanilla shake. My brother got a holy smokes combo. Altogether it was $57.40 !!!!!😰😰😰😣😣😣😣 so expensive. The burgers were good but i don't think i will be coming.

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