Woody's Burgers has been in business since 2009 on the Lakeshore slinging burgers and fries, long before Toronto's burger craze really started to heat-up. Owner Greg Brown is unfazed by the recent influx of competition in Etobicoke, his burgers aren't really comparable to anything else out there.
The secret sauce that distinguishes this place from every other burger joint in this city is that burgers are grilled over an open wood-fire. It imparts a gentle smoky flavour into the beef and makes the whole place smell like campfire.
It's a compact space and seating is limited to just a couple of booths and a handful of stools, so it doesn't take much to pack the house. At the tail end of lunch hour there's a line streaming out the door as the well-tuned team furiously sends orders flying out of the open kitchen.
The classic seven ounce beef patty ($6.75) is excellent. The beef patty doesn't need any bells and whistles, but of course classics like cheddar ($1.25) and smoked bacon ($1.25) only make it better.
On the menu of speciality burgers find international themed selections like the Tokyo burger ($7.45) with pickled ginger, wasabi mayo and fried onions, or a tandoori chicken burger ($6.95) dressed in cucumber slices, curried mayo and garlic yogurt.
I try the California burger ($7.45) dressed up with creamy guacamole, salsa, fried onions, lettuce and pesto mayo. It's tasty enough, but I feel a little like these burger don't need to be gussied up.
Aside from burgers there are crispy fries, onion rings, and unique offering such as frozen custard (like at Shake Shack stateside). A house made blend of eggs, cream and sugar that is richer and smoother than traditional ice cream is sold by the scoop for $2.95 or in shakes starting at $3.95 for a small.
You can have beer with you burger here too, five draught lines are pouring craft brews like Amsterdam Blonde, Oast Barn Raiser, and, Neustadt 10W30 while an additional line is dedicated to Nickel Brook Brewery's Babbling Brooke's all natural root beer.
In warmer months Woody's capacity is doubled thanks to a 35-seat patio, but count on the friendly staff to squeeze you in whenever possible or just relish in the scent of hardwood smoke as you wait for your take-out order to be up.
Photos by Jesse Milns