A Lot To Live Up To: The Burger’s Priest

If you’ve started reading this blog over the last year, it may come as a surprise to you that I spent 8 years as a vegetarian. I wrote all about my decision to eat meat again in this post.

For eight years I was that vegetarian who said I never missed meat. And I really didn’t. I was that vegetarian who would scrunch my nose up at anything meat related. I was that vegetarian who told my meat-eating friends that veggie burgers were just as good as the real thing.

About this last point – they are not. I must have been ill with a carbohydrate induced fever. I’ve already apologized profusely to many of my friends for force feeding soy burgers and hot dogs on them. For complaining when they spit them out. For insisting that a frozen patty was comparable to a juicy beef burger squeezed between two soft buns.

Ohgosh. I’m drooling again.

Since the re-introduction of real burgers in my life, I have become a bit of a connoisseur. Of all the ways to eat animal meat, in burger form is hands down my favourite way.


Luckily for me, one of Toronto’s best burger joints happens to be close to my neighbourhood. The Burger’s Priest is a teeny-tiny indoor grill located in this rough transitional area between Leslieville and the Beaches, aka “no man’s land.”


The self-proclaimed “All American cheeseburger joint” offers five kind of burgers with the option of fries or cookies on the side. The place is small and cramped with a handful of stools against the wall. Line-ups are often out the door.


My roommie and I arrived on Saturday night after a brisk and chilly walk over. Something we hoped would be made up for with a mind-blowing hamburger. Luckily, we were able to snag a couple stools rather than return to our apartment with cold burgers in tow.


I went for the most basic version – the cheeseburger with all the toppings – ketchup, mustard, mayo, tomato, onion, pickles, lettuce.


A thin crumbly patty topped with a processed cheddar slice, between a soft white bun.


Let’s talk about the meat. It was amazing. My roommie got the double double with two patties, and I regret not doing the same. Just the one thin patty didn’t seem like enough. The beef itself was melt-in-your mouth. Cooked to perfection (not too little, not too much). It was fatty in the sense that the juices dripped everywhere, and I saw them vigorously shake salt over each patty before cooking.

I cannot however claim this to be the best burger of my life (like I did with the pancake). I wasn’t into the processed cheese or bun. Both were cheap tasting and dumbed down the amazing beef enclosed inside. It reminded me of a burger you’d get at a charity picnic, minus the crappy patty.

Thus, The Burger’s Priest only makes it to my Number 3 spot. In case you are wondering, I have dozens of Top 3 foodie experiences floating around in my head. Burgers being one of them. Normal?

The Number 2 spot goes to this bison burger I had at the Elk & Oarsmen Pub in Banff back in June.


Fresh ground seasoned bison patty topped with melted pepper jack cheese, butter leaf lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo. This burger came on a crusty white bun. The bison meat, while typically dry from being so lean, was thick and juicy. The best part was the seasoning. It was seasoned just like sausage. If I had ever doubted bison as a viable burger meat, I was now a believer.

And the top spot? My favourite burger of all time?



My mom’s of course!!

Actually, this particular burger was eaten on July 13, 2009. What made it so special was that it was my first real hamburger in 10 years. To quote from my blog at the time (I know, here I go quoting myself again):

Ohmygoodness. Words cannot even describe. I cannot believe my tastebuds and body have been missing out on this for so long! (ahem, more than a decade!) My mom and I picked up some ground hamburger at a local store in Cap-Pele, a small Acadian town not too far from here. So we assume it was good beef. My mom said she mixed it with an egg, some oregano, and a piece of flax bread, and then just cooked it on the stovetop.

Let me put it this way: I will never again compare a veggie burger to a real hamburger. There is no comparison.


I believe we can pinpoint my love for hamburgers to that specific moment in time. In all fairness, The Burger’s Priest had a lot to live up to. Clearly, it will be hard to find a burger in Toronto that will change my life the way my “second first” hamburger ever did.

I just ask one favour to all my vegetarian readers out there. Please, please, never tell your friends a veggie burger tastes like the real thing. Learn from my mistakes :)


Question of the Day: What’s the best burger you ever had?

Posted on December 16, 2010, in Restaurants, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. I LOVE bison burgers. I think the best burger I’ve ever had was a bison burger outside of a buffalo ranch (morbid, I know) in the middle of no where in eastern Colorado. Of course, I’d also just biked 80 miles, so I think that helped the cause a little too

  2. i havent had red meat since i was about 8 yrs old, my own choice. nor have i really had any animal products other than a lil chicken and fish in my early 20s….I will say, i am vegan and dont miss cheese, eggs, meat, chicken…but i do miss fish. But bcuz of food allergies, i can’t have it!

    I am happy you found your burger groove again :)

  3. I have two categories for burgers, beef and chicken. The best beef one I’ve ever had was in Adelaide, and after looking for it again it’s turned into a pub. It was just some cafe round the corner from the place I was working for only a few days, but I had one each day I was there. It’s spices were oh so mouth watering and the meat patty was a very generous size.

    As for chicken burgers, I’m a lover of Portuguese chicken burgers. A little bit hot and spicy and with a delicious juicy chicken breast and cheese with mayo. Best one I had of these is thankfully only 5 minutes from my place in South West Sydney and the second best is bout 10 minutes from my work called Ogalos in Putney.

    Similar to meat patties, I also love a good rissole. Round ball of meat BBQ with generous amounts of just the right spices

  4. I like the idea of you becoming a burger connoseur (I think I butchered the spelling…pun intended!). If I were to become an expert on a certain food, I think I would want it to be cornbread.

    Good for you for choosing to eat what you like! As it should be my friend!

  5. Would it be wrong to say the best burger I’ve ever had was my very own?

  6. Hmm that’s hard because I have only recently started eating burgers. But a couple years ago Mitch and I went to this restaurant that specializes in “exotic meats” (and a whiskey bar…sounds like you kinda place yea?) and I had a lamb burger with caramelized onions that was to DIE for.

  7. Okay, I swear that even as a non-vegetarian, I really didn’t ever like hamburgers. Red meat and I just never really clicked! I’m all about the Fuddruckers though…I could do some serious work on their turkey burgers and ohhhh lord their veggie burgers now…I need one just thinking about it…yeah, at 11:10 pm with an hour drive, I’m actually considering it…haha

  8. If you’re ever out this way in Vancouver, my fave is a finer diner called Moderne Burger. They use quality meat with no fillers, and the flavour and texture is wonderful. Mmmm, now I want a burger…

  9. so funny! My most fav post-veg experience is the burger as well! There is simply no comparison…and mom really does make amazing burgers…

  10. I know veggie burgers are not the same but I love the way most taste. I have been a vegetarian for 8 years now but have never missed cow, pig or poultry. I have occasionally missed seafood. I can practically assure that I will never eat flesh again except possibly having seafood. It would have to be a very special occasion with only sustainably harvested fish or shellfish. I’m not to that place yet, though;)

  11. Best Burger in T.O. I’ve had so far is definitely at South Street. It has a great patty but you can also choose an awesome array of toppings and whole wheat bun!

    But of alll time…. Definitely one I had at my favorite hometown restaurant, Crazy Burger. It had roasted red peppers, bacon and pepperjack cheese and a spicy mayo. WOW was it good.


  12. I can’t think to my absolute best burger … except that I went through this phase where I was completely addicted to Harvey’s double cheeseburgers. Then I realized they contained soy and it turned me off them. Your burger photos are making me drool!

  13. NICE! it’s so hard to find a favorite burget place because everyone cares about such different things!!! I don’t eat beef, but my BF swears by CHicago’s Kuma’s Corner. THeir classic burget with a fried egg, bacon and cheese on it is apparently what he dreams about. lol

    I do like their chicken burger there. I order the kind with siracha, grilled pineapple (the fresh kind!!) and caramelized onions. It’s super good!!

  14. When I could still eat gluten my favorite burger was from this really awesome generic diner in town. It’s weird that I even like it because I am usually so against processed cheese and stuff but anyhow it’s a mushroom swiss burger. I have no idea what makes it so good, it is certainly not high quality ingredients! lol!

    Nowdays I get bunless burgers so the more going on the better. I’ve had one with egg, bacon, cheddar, and american cheese that was awesome. I like guacamole, salsa, and cheddar. I love blue cheese and bacon.

  15. Mmmm I so want a burger right now and it’s early am still! The processed cheese and cheapo buns would put a damper on my burger experience too.

  16. I can’t remember the last time I ate a burger………those do look yummy though x x

  17. It’s so true, veggie burgers are good, but they are a completely different thing! Incidentally, burgers were the first meat I had when I started eating it again a few years ago! Ps, what’s pop water?? Is that soda?

  18. I love this post because I can relate SO MUCH! I was only vegetarian for a year and a half…but I still did not miss meat at all. I had no intention of being an omnivore again. But then one day…I woke up and decided to have a burger. We went to a nearby pub and I got a bacon cheeseburger and it was orgasmic.

    Now I have bacon about every other day and eat meat like its my job (hehe). No shame.

  19. 2 places that make good burgers. Red Robin and Famous Dave’s. I do not know what FD does to their burgers, but they taste so incredibly meaty and wonderful (probably fat LOL).

    Meat analogues just aren’t meat – period. I eat veggie burgers sometimes, but not as a substitute for meat, just as their own item.

    I am dying to try a Juicy Lucy sometime!

  20. No man’s land is right!! I blame it on the off-track betting place (boo!) but the liquor store makes up for it a wee bit :-)

    Thanks for the info about the Burger’s Priest – I’ve been wanting to try it. I’m super keen to try their cheese stuffed portobello burgers coated in panko – yum!

    I had a great burger in the summer at the Mill St.Brew Pub – it was their Distillery Burger – I must confess I am swayed by good toppings and that one had beer infused BBQ sauce, pancetta, swiss cheese and crispy onions.

    As for veggie burgers, my mom always makes one that she clipped and saved from Gourmet magazine MANY years ago – the base is basically walnut, mushroom, mozzarella and brown rice. It has a great texture, and I found a link to it! (it’s the Columbia Bar and Grill’s Grain and Cheese Burgers):

  21. i’ve eaten a lot of burgers lately, and by far the best one have been the ones (yes i’ve eaten multiple ones) at umami burger, which has been featured on many lists. definitely lives up to the hype and it’s only a matter of time before the chain goes national (maybe even international, so you can try some in canada!)

  22. I had to come back and leave a follow-up comment here because I visited the Priest for the first time tonight. I would definitely suggest you go back and try “the Option” burger- a portobello mushroom stuffed with cheese, breaded and deep fried – it was AMAZING. I tried a regular (meat) burger as well but was not blown away. It tasted pretty plain, with the exception of A LOT of salt. I loved the fries – tiny, oily and crispy. But again, A LOT of salt, which I don’t think they needed. Thanks for all the great Toronto reviews – although I am sad to read you are leaving :-(

    • I have plans to go back and try the portobello one! I live pretty close so I’m waiting for a night when I’m too lazy to cook ;) Totally agree on the salt part – I saw them shaking TONS all over the patties before throwing them on the grill.

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