The Best BBQ Chicken (Churrasqueiras) in Toronto
The Best BBQ Chicken restaurant in Toronto is open to hotly contested debate. The waters become muddied by a ton of qualifying questions: rotisserie or grill? Hot sauce or sweet? Rice or potatoes? One thing's for sure, nobody knows how to do it quite like Toronto's huge collection of Portuguese grill houses or Churrasqueiras, so pretty much any trip to power centres like Weston, St. Clair West or the Ossington-Lansdowne Corridor will net you no end of opportunity to settle the debate once and for all.
Here are the 12 best, as voted by readers of this site.
Writing and photos by Lindsay Renwick
At the top of Christie Street on St. Clair, Churrascos' tiny storefront houses a wealth of riches. Grilled and rotisserie chicken are available on tap, but call ahead for more specialized menu items like roast rabbit (3 hrs), or suckling pig (3 days). The chicken is juicy with beautifully caramelized skin, the hot sauce is brick red and packs a fiery wallop, and the parisienne potatoes are perfectly encrusted. The bland rice is a weak spot, but do take home a bottle of their homemade vinaigrette. Quarter chicken combo, $7. More »
Sardinha's location right outside the Delaware St. exit of Ossington Station makes it a tender trap for hungry commuters. Inside, the rotisserie chicken is succulent and juicy, the grilled chicken is smoky and crisped and both pair perfectly with their many side choices. The lemon roast potatoes manage to be browned to perfection and creamy at the same time, the deep-fried parisienne potatoes never fail to please and the rice is rich with oil and sprinkled with black olives. Quarter chicken combo, $7. More »
Here, the hens are huge with perfectly crisped skin, moist and evenly cooked. The hot sauce is loaded with red pepper punch, packs a moderate heat and a nice vinegary tang and their side potatoes have an earthy, chicken-fried flavour I couldn't find anywhere else. The location is about to undergo a massive renovation and expansion his summer, so get it while it's hot! Half-chicken platter, $10. More »
This storefront at Dupont and Symington is part lunch counter, part grocery store. Beware the overboiled steamed vegetables, which loaned a taste to my whole meal as though it had lately been sprayed with a saltwater hose. The rotisserie chicken is ably prepared, but go easy on the oily sweet sauce. The rice has a nice touch of vinegary sweetness to it, and the price can't be beat. Quarter chicken combo, $6. More »
The staff at this Lansdowne staple tend to be brusque but efficient – don't get in their way and you will get what you want. The grilled chicken is on the dry side, but its enticingly smoky flavour lingers pleasantly on the tongue. Parisienne potatoes have a leathery, toothsome exterior but a rewardingly creamy middle. The rice is bathed in oil, but the garnish of a half-dozen black olives is a nice touch. Half-chicken platter, $10. More »
This Annex stalwart was packed to the gills on a rainy afternoon, and it's no secret why. The window rotisserie unit was jammed with golden, dripping hens and the men behind the counter were serving up an addictive mix of friendly banter and salty, juicy, crunchy goodness. My chicken fairly fell off the bone and they didn't spare the crispy fries or the diner-style gravy. Quarter chicken combo, $7.50. More »
The grilled chicken at this Little Italy churrasquiera is naturally a bit tougher than a rotisserie bird, but during the post-lunch lull, it's certainly plentiful. My server's free hand with both the hot sauce and the sweet oil more than adequately compensated, turning the whole meal into a spicy, smoky stew. The parisienne potatoes come golden brown and glistening and the rice is nicely augmented with the addition of both green and black olives. Quarter chicken combo, $8.50. More »
Be prepared to pay a location premium as this Liberty Village hot spot caters mainly to the 9-5 lunch crowd in an under-served area. The chicken is worth the extra expense, thanks to its densely flavorful flesh and lusciously greasy skin. Their garden fresh salad, lightly dressed in a subtly sweet balsamic vinaigrette takes top spot on this list and their varied menu offerings from chicken wings to onion rings makes The Rotisserie House deliciously hard to pigeonhole. Quarter chicken combo with drink $12.50. More »
This Weston storefront is deservedly busy. The grilled chicken is masterfully blackened without turning tough and the whole combo including potatoes and fluffy, golden rice is mercifully free of the oversalting that is usually a hallmark of Churrasqueira cuisine. Portions are generous and they don't stint on the hot sauce. Quarter chicken combo, $7. More »
From the outside this College Street grill looks fairly unassuming, but on the inside everything about it is a cut above. Decorous waitstaff serve attractively presented meals on one of the largest and loveliest backyard patios in the neighbourhood. Kicking back at a picnic table with a cold Sagres and an expertly charred half chicken platter is like taking a trip to sunny Lisbon but skipping the 10-hour flight. Half-chicken platter, $10. More »
With 38 years in the same location, this Ossington strip takeout counter has watched its fair share of gentrifying upstarts come and go, and has fed them all. The chicken is perfectly char-broiled and coated with a sauce that's deceptively clear in colour, but packs searing heat. Rice is pale but has an unusually creamy, risotto-like consistency and the potatoes are deep golden with good scorch marks. Quarter chicken combo, $6. More »