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Restaurants

Leslieville Pumps

Posted by Rebecca Fleming / Reviewed on June 13, 2012 / review policy

leslieville pumpsLeslieville Pumps is reminiscent of a Northern Ontario truck stop. Faux Muskoka chairs line the window outside under the old-tyme storefront, while inside cottage memorabilia decorates the walls, and a quarter will buy you a gumball from two giant gas pump-shaped dispensers. There are some notable differences however.

leslieville pumps torontoFirst of all, they don't sell live bait, and second of all, the menu doesn't consist of day old wieners, or vacuum sealed sandwiches. You won't find an expiry date on any of the food here.

Instead, everything is made in-house by co-owner Judson Flom who left a career of working in the higher end of the food industry, to pursue his one true love...barbecue. So when the old Country Style at Queen and Carlaw went up for sale, Judson and his brother Greg made a move.

leslieville pumps torontoLast Wednesday, I unintentionally skipped breakfast but it was a good thing I did. I met with a friend and her little one for lunch at the Pumps, and I was starving by the time one o'clock rolled around--which explains the following list of menu items we consumed.

While waiting for our food (which also takes longer than your average gas station, but this is a good thing) we busied ourselves with reading the decades-old newspaper clippings that cover the tables along with old photos of the station back when the Shoppers across the street was a Dominion.

leslieville pumps torontoUp first were the sandwiches. We split a Hickory Smoked Chicken and a Southern Beef Brisket ($7.74 each), which some are already saying is the best in Toronto. Despite this, my favourite of the two was the chicken. The chicken thigh, topped with arugula and tomatoes, was unbelievably tender and I loved the sauce (a mixture of the Pump's own bbq sauce and sweet chili aioli--it tasted similar to what you might expect of a pulled pork sandwich but with a spicy kick).

The brisket, smoked for 14 hours, is then topped with crispy onions, grainy mustard and once again the Pump's own bbq sauce (top photo). It was smoky and tender, but it didn't do it for me as much as the chicken.

leslieville pumps torontoOn the side we had the corn fritters ($3.99) and dipped them in a Creole sauce made of a secret blend of herbs and spices from their rooftop garden. They aren't the most attractive dish--almost like old-fashioned timbits punctuated with corn kernels--but they were surprisingly addictive.

leslieville pumps torontoAnd because I've never said no to a deep fried pickle, we had to try the Pump's version ($3.99). The pickles breaded in Panko were fantastic--the coating was crispy and buttery while the pickles maintained their crunch. Definitely the best I've had in a while.

leslieville pumps torontoAnd just to push ourselves over the edge, (neither of us ended up eating dinner that night) we tried the French Toast Fingers. Drizzled with milk chocolate and sprinkled with bacon, they were 50% breakfast, 50% dessert, but 100% delicious. Given the ingredients, this dish was decadent without being cloyingly sweet.

leslieville pumpsLeslieville Pumps draws a mixed crowd. Devoted first-name-basis regulars of its previous incarnation still show up for their double-double with a side of scratch and win tickets, while others have caught on to what the kitchen is serving up, and some just run in to pay for their gas and head back to their car unaware of the delicious sandwiches they missed out on.

leslieville pumps torontoLunch and dinner isn't the only thing on offer at The Pumps. Open for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Pumps serves up breakfast sandwiches, and fresh-baked goods including blueberry muffins and butter tarts.

Even when the kitchen closes at 8pm, hungry patrons can still find a meal in slow-cooked authentic Sri Lankan curry made by a staff member using her own recipe. I was told it's a hit with cab drivers around the 3am mark when the shifts are changing and drivers are running on empty.

leslieville pumps toronto

Discussion

42 Comments

kook / June 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm
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very interesting!
Proud East Ender! / June 13, 2012 at 01:03 pm
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Leslieville...Soon to be coined East West Queen West, I am sure.
Leslievillian replying to a comment from Proud East Ender! / June 13, 2012 at 01:16 pm
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Excuse you. Leslieville is leslieville to the end bitch. Been its own always be its own tell a friend bitch.
mike in parkdale / June 13, 2012 at 01:25 pm
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I went into that place during the renovations, and it looks like they did really well with it. I'm getting hungry just looking at it!
Ratpick / June 13, 2012 at 01:52 pm
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Good old-fashioned fun. Bonus points for meshing urban food trends ... with gasoline. I dig.

Sara / June 13, 2012 at 01:53 pm
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Tried the corn fritters the other day, delish! The sauce is A-MAZING!
Steno / June 13, 2012 at 01:59 pm
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Is this place licensed?
Elizabeth / June 13, 2012 at 03:02 pm
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I want to go there. Mmmmmmm.
Ben replying to a comment from Proud East Ender! / June 13, 2012 at 03:25 pm
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Everyone knows that East West Queen West is clearly located from Bathurst to Trinity Bellwoods.

Jeeeeez
pat / June 13, 2012 at 03:36 pm
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Went for lunch, had the brisket. It was delicious. They also smoke their own salmon for smoked salmon & cream cheese bagels. I've gotta go back a bunch more times to try things.
No, they're not licensed.
bbqlover / June 13, 2012 at 08:42 pm
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Went last week - had the brisket there and ordered the chicken sandwich to take home but loved the brisket so much ate the chicken there as well! Excellent food, great atmosphere and friendly service! This place is going to do very well...
Proud East Ender replying to a comment from Leslievillian / June 13, 2012 at 09:50 pm
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Wow, who ever said sarcasm was lost on the simple...

Can you not tell the by my name, I LIVE IN THE EAST END????
Gabe / June 13, 2012 at 11:05 pm
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BEERZ!!!! Let's get serving Beerz here in the summer - Patio!!!
ah123 / June 14, 2012 at 07:42 am
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I also noticed they tend to have lower gas prices, too. So go fill up there. And grab food.
Bill / June 14, 2012 at 08:56 am
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Wow, a whole bunch of positive comments on a restaurant review on BlogTO. How refreshing. The place looks great, can't wait to check it out.
addict / June 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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the brisket sandwich is insane, could eat it everyday. makes the brisket at barque look like shit!
bill replying to a comment from Leslievillian / June 24, 2012 at 04:28 pm
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Simmer down bitch. Guess how all us uptown people feel having spent money on realty and having restaurants move into your shit neighborhoods. Not worth driving to dykeville for food.
KPD / June 26, 2012 at 12:52 am
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I'm so hungry I could eat a sandwich from a gas station!
Nancy / June 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm
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Mr. Bill: "having spent money on realty". What a joke - hope you're enjoying your 375 square foot condo. Have you looked at Lesliville prices recently?
Someone needs to get his narrow-minded self a real life.
Stephanie L / July 2, 2012 at 05:20 pm
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As a business owner in the area I am so pleased to see this gas station take a new turn. It is clean, charming, and a great addition to Queen East. Leslieville has a unique charm that is hard to find and the more independent business we introduce and support the better!

This place is amazing! The food is fantastic (especially the brisket and pulled pork) and the owners/staff always greet you with a smile. The prices may seem high to some but are completely in line with the area. Not to mention free parking and cheap gas! It is a no brainer really!

Check it out – you won’t be disappointed.

Stephanie L / July 2, 2012 at 05:22 pm
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Also - just a side note, they catered a lunch meeting I had the other day and it was FANTASTIC!!!!
Let down / July 5, 2012 at 01:07 am
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I was really looking forward to trying this place after reading reviews and was so let down this evening. We arrived at 8:45 and waited for the counter girl to finish packing up orders so we could place ours. She looked super confused and didn't interact with us. When we finally were next in line she let us know it was about to close for the night. There were 2 cooks in the back that looked out when we walked in and they didn't say anything either. We left feeling awkward and confused. Get it together, dudes!
mayor dodge replying to a comment from addict / July 12, 2012 at 04:36 pm
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By the way, did you read the rather MEH review in today's TORSTAR? It seem that they make the pulled pork DRY ON PURPOSE and skimp on any sauce. Ruination of tender meat! They sure as h3ll LOST my business.
BillyO / July 13, 2012 at 02:33 pm
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Had the brisket. On point! Looking forward to the pulled pork next time.
Rae / July 13, 2012 at 02:36 pm
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Yeah I did see the review in the Toronto Star - I agree it wasn't that good but if you follow this journalist you also know that her feedback isn’t always the most accurate.

I have grabbed a brisket sandwich from here many times and it is awesome. I would definitely recommend it. The sandwiches are never dry but are also not falling apart in your hands or going soggy – which to me is a bonus.

Perhaps before they “lose your business” you should a) give them your business and develop you own opinion instead of jumping on the lame TorontoStar band wagon and b) check out the positive reviews above here from your fellow chowhounders.

I assume the opinions of their regular customers are more important for business…


Let Down Confirmed / July 23, 2012 at 05:14 pm
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So, after our first experience where we waited and were then told they were closed - we finally tried it. SUPER LET DOWN!

We ordered the pulled pork sandwich and the chicken one. The pork was dry and pretty tasteless and the bun was boring. The chicken had a weird taste to it and wasnt sweet and spicy as indicated. This bun was burnt. The fries we got for $3 were the smallest portion I've ever seen, and although they were over cooked, the flavor was good.

It's too bad that it wasn't good, cause I wanted this place to rule. The owner seems like a cool dude, but the rest of the staff leaves me puzzled. They could do with music and more energy in there as well as punching up the flavors in their meat.

AA / July 25, 2012 at 02:53 pm
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Tasty Brisket Sandwich; however, I was looking for a bit more food for $8.75 (tax in).

Very friendly lady at the front counter.
Morgan / September 4, 2012 at 07:28 pm
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This place is amazzzzzzzzzing!!!

I live just down the street and moved in around the same time they did. Our renovations were punctuated with lunches all of the pumps staples. From the beef brisket to the smoked salmon, Pumps never disappoint! The guys that run it are really friendly, and work hard to achieve quality that you would never expect from a gas station diner.

Highly recommended to anyone looking for a good quick bite and more than the average sandwich in Leslieville.


(ps - the parsley fries... mmm)

MyTwoSense / September 27, 2012 at 06:54 pm
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Was in for a bite the first day they opened as the Pumps. Although tasty, portions are small and the price is way high at virtualy $9 for a sandwhich. If that price point included a side then I could justify it but Really!? Try ordering their bagel with traditional smear, $3.49 for the bagel with cream cheese and then they hit you up an additional $3.49 for the lox... umm, no thanks. Want a great, generously portioned sandwhich that's reasonably priced? Try the Upper Crust or Tommosios Trattoria on Eastern Ave. Just my two-sense.
James / January 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm
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This place is utter crap. Why you'd waste your money on dried out meat with no flavour is beyond me. So many better options in the area.
Zengirl / January 15, 2013 at 09:02 pm
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There was no Leslieville before. This has always been South Riverdale to those who have been here since the dawn of time.
katarina / January 19, 2013 at 08:29 pm
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I went here today and had the Brisket sandwich and coleslaw and it was very yummy! The sandwich was very juicy and portion size it is just right. The coleslaw I wish was a little creamier but it was good as well. I will definitely come back!
johnny / January 21, 2013 at 02:50 pm
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Great idea, but the food and service is just plain awful!
Went across the street to Rashers. Much better!
Coby / January 25, 2013 at 10:28 pm
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I've always been a big fan of The Pumps, then Rashers came along...It looked like the pumps, it sorta smelt like the pumps so I tried it, but then I realized...I can't live without the pumps! no comparison when it comes to fillin' my belly! hits the spot.
Riley / February 14, 2013 at 08:07 am
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The Pumps need to stick to selling gas and leave the cooking to someone who knows what they're doing.
anthony replying to a comment from Leslievillian / April 12, 2013 at 03:11 pm
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DARE / April 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm
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Loved this place when it first opened, but food and service have definitely taken a nosedive.
Jason / April 21, 2013 at 08:40 am
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Ya Ya they just got ranked 2nd best sandwich in all of Toronto by Toronto life magazine. . Way to go guys keep smoking that brisket.
Darcy / May 24, 2013 at 09:39 am
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I just tried this place for my first time after reading the new Toronto Life article where they are featured as the #2 best sandwich in the city. Wow I'm glad I did! I had the brisket and fries and they were amazing. They also have this great patio on the front. Awesome addition to Leslieville. Will definitely be going back.
Noah Cysts replying to a comment from Elizabeth / June 21, 2013 at 07:28 pm
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I will not sleep with another woman until my head is resting between your creamy thighs.

THe chicken thighs were awesome.
Aron / July 4, 2013 at 07:21 am
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The food here is FANTASTIC. The service even better when Annabelle is working. Fries are almost as good as those in my hometown of Montreal. Sandwiches are all superb. BUT, you really need to visit after 9pm for the curry. Holy. Wow. Just try it. As an aside, they have a crazy neat selection of chips and candy here. Hard-to-find flavours and styles.
web site / October 3, 2013 at 01:29 pm
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This is my first time go to see at here and i am in fact impressed to read
all at alone place.

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