The best and worst American burger chains in Toronto
Toronto is a mecca for great burgers - and that isn't just in reference to restaurant-grade gourmet varieties you'll find stuffed with foie gras or stacked onto house-baked buns. There are great burgers to be had in fast food outlets in this city - chains that are flipping burgers day and night.
Now, not all fast food outlets are not made equal. There's our relatively young, locally-based burger game, and then there are big American franchises with global followings. Here's a look at how the recently arrived American burger chains are in Toronto.
U.S-based burger chain Five Guys don't advertise any gimmicks - they don't do much else besides hamburgers, and their fluorescent-lit locations are about as bare-bones as can be. What I like most about Five Guys is their unwavering focus on burgers: seasoned meat smashed into a flat top until thin and thoroughly seared, then dressed with a basic array of toppings (including fried onions).
With a mission of making fast food more healthy and wholesome, this new-to-Toronto franchise has yet to really prove itself, though first impressions have been positive. Patties here are all natural, house ground and hand-formed - and tasty to boot.
Originating in New York City, this chain of organic burger bars opened its first outpost outside of the U.S. on Dundas St. West at Bay St. earlier this year. The place isn't a fast food counter like the rest, but rather a sit-down restaurant equally focused on burgers as it is local craft beers. Basic burgers start at $9.80 while pre-set creations range from $11.15 to $14.55 and reflect the commitment to using pasture raised, antibiotic, gluten, and hormone-free meats.
Carl's Jr. now operates two Toronto locations, both of which have lots of positive attributes. The fast food outlets are sparkling new and furnished with comfortable booths, the staff are friendly and will run your order over to your table. The burgers themselves look great and are sandwiched between light, airy housemade buns - the only let down is the dry, flavourless beef patty.
The sole Toronto outpost from the famous Wahlburg family can be found at the base of the Soho Metropolitan Hotel. It's a beacon for tourists, fans of the A&E reality show and positioned perfectly to attract Jays fans, which I guess gives them license to sell burgers a la carte for $10 and up.
This California-based chain boasts only a single location in the GTA, and while they've built their reputation on thick, juicy burgers, it's hard to feel like anyone involved in the Thornhill franchise is confident that burgers are the star. Ask "what's good in the menu?" and the staff are likely to push chicken fingers over the signature offerings. I tried the burger anyway, and it's true: the chicken fingers are better.
Photo of a burger from b.good
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