South St. Burger Co.

Location1020 Islington Avenue, Etobicoke

South St. Burger Co. is a fast casual burger chain (“fast casual” denoting a fast food restaurant with — supposedly — better food than a place like McDonald’s or Burger King, and prices to match).  I want to like South St. — I really do.  I can appreciate that they’re a chain with loftier goals than, say, Hero Certified Burgers, who use the absolute cheapest, most odious frozen patties they can find.

South St. proudly proclaim that they use only fresh beef, and kudos to them for that.  Sadly, although this is a step in the right direction, there is more to making a good burger than simply using fresh beef.

The restaurant has a pretty standard set up — you order your burger, wait for it to be ready, then pick from the toppings behind the glass.

Actually, those toppings warrant mention: though I went simple with just mayo, tomato, and pickles, they have a fairly impressive selection, including different types of mayo (garlic, wasabi, or curry), relishes, and chutney.


I actually remember liking this place a lot more when it first opened — I think the quality used to be higher.  On top of this, South St. came to Toronto slightly before the burger trend hit this city hard, when a place serving fresh, non-frozen, non-meatloaf burgers was much more of a novelty.

The grilled, well done burger is very, very dry.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll note that they’re clearly using beef that is way too lean.  The patty is very tightly packed and very dense, making the whole thing a bit of a jaw workout.

It’s also clear that the beef just isn’t that great, as it has that vaguely unpleasant taste that you associate with lower quality beef.

The bun was nothing too special, but it was fine, and the pickles, tomato, and mayo were pretty standard.  I suspect to make a South St. burger worth eating, you need to be really aggressive with their more unique condiments.  My dining companion got a variety of toppings on his burger, and he enjoyed it.

As for the fries, they’re made by New York Fries, and are expectedly good.   I asked for the curry mayo and the garlic mayo on the side for dipping, which I would strongly recommend. The curry mayo in particular was quite delicious, and really kicked up the already tasty fries.

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Peter’s on Eglinton

Location1035 Eglinton Avenue East, Mississauga

Peter’s on Eglinton kind of saddens me.  Unpretentious to a fault, serving generous portions of unassuming diner fare, with clientele who look like they’ve been frequenting the place for years, it’s the kind of place that you really want to like.  Sadly, I’ve been here a few times now, and I’ve yet to have a meal that was particularly good.

The varied menu ranges from breakfast fare to stuff like souvlaki and pasta to (of course) hamburgers.  I ordered the standard burger, and asked for it topped with tomato, pickles, and mayo.

I was concerned that with such a variety on their menu they’d go the frozen patty route, but thankfully this is not the case.


It is, however, a meatloaf burger, and they certainly aren’t shy with the seasonings.  In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s the meatloafiest meatloaf burger that I’ve ever had.  The flavour of the beef is absolutely annihilated by all the spices and miscellanea in the burger.  It also has a somewhat mushy texture — perhaps from all the stuff that’s been mixed in.

It’s actually kind of absurd how strongly-spiced this “hamburger” is, but if you’re in the mood for a meatloaf sandwich, you could do worse, I suppose.

Aside from the prodigious spicing, the grilled burger is cooked to well done but not overcooked, and it’s actually reasonably juicy.  The bun is a bit too bready, but basically fine, and the toppings are okay (though the pickles are sliced a bit too thick).  Like I said, as a meatloaf sandwich it’s not horrible, but as a hamburger it’s almost hilariously misguided.

The burger also comes with a generous portion of fries (which are frozen and fairly mediocre), and a baseball-sized mound of tasty, vinegary coleslaw.  It’s a pretty good deal for just about ten bucks.

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Location3265 Yonge Street, Toronto

Like The Stockyards, Stack is BBQ joint run by people who have clearly put a great deal of care into the burger selection on their menu.  If their website is to be believed, they initially planned on specializing in burgers, but ultimately decided to shift their focus to southern-style BBQ.

It’s clear that they could have made Stack a burger joint and done just fine — these are burgers done (mostly) right.

There are some interesting looking burgers on the menu, but in keeping with my preference when I’m reviewing a place, I kept it simple with the Stack Classic, which comes topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion.

I also asked for mayonnaise on the side, which turned out to be a wise move; the creamy, flavourful mayo is infused with roasted garlic and is clearly made in-house — this ain’t no Hellmann’s, that’s for sure.  It was good on the burger, but even better as a dipping sauce for their amazing fries.

Like at The Stockyards, the burger is griddle-cooked and seasoned with little more than salt and pepper (as it should be).  Sadly, like at The Stockyards (and pretty much every other burger joint in Toronto), the beef in the burger is a little bit too lean, resulting in a burger that’s a bit drier than it should be.  Thankfully, there is still some juiciness here, so it’s certainly a minor offender in Toronto’s ongoing quest to completely dry out my mouth with well-done, too-lean patties.

Aside from the dryness issue, this is an outstanding hamburger.  The well-done, loosely packed patty had a good amount of crust from the griddle (though not quite as much as at The Stockyards or Burger’s Priest).

It’s also clear that Stack is using beef that is well above average, as this was one of the most richly beefy burgers I’ve had in quite a while.  Eating it, I had something of a eureka moment: oh right, this is how a burger is supposed to taste.

The fresh sesame seed bun complimented the burger perfectly, as did the toppings (particularly the aforementioned fresh mayonnaise — if you find yourself at Stack, ask for this mayo).

As I mentioned earlier, the fries were crazy delicious.  Perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, with an amazingly robust flavour, they were almost ludicrously good when dipped in that delicious garlicky mayonnaise.

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