Resto Boemo

: 111 Richmond Street West, Toronto (in the Assembly Chef’s Hall)

Since getting back into town a couple of months ago, I’ve been hearing literally nothing but great things about the burger at Resto Boemo.  The more I heard, the more I was drawn to it like a magnet to… a more powerful magnet?  One of those really strong electromagnets?  (This metaphor has really gone off the rails, like a train that’s been derailed by a really strong magnet.  Okay, I’ll stop now.)

You can choose from either single or double, but other than that there’s just one burger on the menu, and it’s a no-frills cheeseburger: American cheese, lettuce, onion, pickles, and some kind of special sauce.

It’s a good burger, but alas, not a great one.  There are a few things holding it back from being truly special, like a magnet that’s not quite powerful enough to stick, slowly sliding down the fridge door.

But first, the good: it’s smashed and griddle-cooked (because apparently there’s no other way to cook a burger as far as Toronto chefs are concerned), with an impressive amount of crust on its exterior.  The patties are cooked to a perfect medium, with a blushingly pink interior, and a really satisfying amount of juiciness.  That’s not to mention the beefy flavour, which was impressive and pronounced.

I also quite liked the toppings, especially the thinly-shaved onions — they added a mild oniony flavour without overwhelming, as raw onions are prone to do.  And the gooey, melty American cheese is the perfect accompaniment to this style of cheeseburger.

Oh, and I really liked the bun, too.  It was soft, mildly sweet, and had just the right amount of heft to stand up to the messy burger.  It was actually pretty great.

Yeah, there was a lot about this burger that I really liked.

But, while the patties were nice and juicy, they were also a bit too tightly packed, which made them tougher than they should have been.  And the texture was ever-so-slightly off, with a very subtle sausage-like chew.  I suspect they’re either salting the patties too far in advance, or mixing salt right in with the meat.

And speaking of salt, between the salty American cheese and the salt on the patties themselves, the sodium level here is a little bit intense.  It’s not a huge issue, but it’s there.

As for the fries, they looked and tasted a lot like what they serve at McDonald’s — but not as good.  The exterior was slightly too crispy, and the interior was off-puttingly dry.  It was a turn-off, like two magnets with the same poles pushing each other away.

3 out of 4

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: 619 College Street, Toronto

The burgers from Rudy look amazing in pictures. I mean, look at it. Look at that crust. If you’re getting a burger cooked in that style (i.e. smashed on a griddle), then what Rudy is serving up is pretty much the Platonic ideal of what you want it to look like. That combination of melty, bright orange American cheese and the mahogany-brown crust from a perfectly hot griddle is a thing of beauty. You could look at it forever.

But could it actually taste as good as it looks?

Yes. The answer is an emphatic yes.

I ordered the Rudy, which is a single-patty cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato, and Rudy sauce.

Oh man, it was so good.

Foremost was that crust: the beautiful brown crust amps up the burger’s beefy flavour and provides a perfect crispy contrast to the tender beef.


I got a little bit concerned when I cut into the burger and saw well done, uniformly gray beef.  At least a little bit of pink would have been nice, but it’s hard to complain too much when the patty remains so admirably juicy.  Add in the fact that the beef was loosely-packed and coarsely-ground, and you’ve got a patty with a texture that’s exactly where it should be.

The flavour was pretty great too; perfectly seasoned with just salt and pepper and with a nice beefy kick, it’s pretty much exactly what you’re looking for in the taste department.

The toppings, too, check all the right boxes.  Gooey American cheese?  Check.  Big-Mac-esque sauce?  Check.  Fresh lettuce and tomato?  Check.  Oh, and that bun?  Pillowy, sweet, and perfect.

Yes, in case you can’t tell, I loved this hamburger.  One of the best in the city for sure.

It’s a bummer to end on a sour note, but the fries weren’t the best.  Some of them were slightly underdone, and others were potato-chip-crispy.  Also, I think they might have been seasoned with vinegar instead of salt?  A few had a mildly vinegary flavour; the rest tasted completely unseasoned.  Still, considering how good the burger was, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume something was just off with this batch.  Either way, the burger was so damn good that it really doesn’t matter.

4 out of 4

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: 6301 Silver Dart Drive, Mississauga (Toronto Pearson International Airport)

Though I’m assuming they’re going to expand a bit more at some point, right now if you’re in Ontario and you want to try Smashburger, you’re going to have to fly internationally out of Pearson.  I actually was flying internationally recently, so I was pretty excited to try this (supposedly) higher end American fast food chain.

They’ve got the standard selection of hamburgers, chicken burgers, and salads that you’ll find at any of the big chains.  I got the Classic Smash, which is a single-patty cheeseburger that comes with American cheese, Smash Sauce, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion.

It’s… fine, I guess?  I was expecting something more along the lines of places like Five Guys or In-N-Out, but this definitely isn’t that.  It’s closer in quality to Wendy’s or A&W.  Not bad in a pinch, but definitely not something I’d get excited about or go out of my way for.


The patty — with its dry, pebbly texture and lack of anything you’d recognize as a beefy flavour — is fast food through and through.  As per the name of the joint, it’s smashed, with a bit of colour and texture from the griddle.  This seems more cosmetic than anything else, as it doesn’t particularly add anything in the flavour department.

The slightly sweet bun is fine, as are the toppings (including the Smash Sauce, which is the typical tangy mayo that you’d expect).  The whole thing is fine — it’s a bit of a shrug, but I certainly didn’t dislike eating it.

As for the fries, I tried the Smash Fries, which are tossed with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary.  They were thinly-cut and tasty, but man were they oily.  They were doused in olive oil; they were dripping with the stuff.  I poured them out next to my burger, and they left a huge pool of oil in their wake.  It was pretty ridiculous.

2.5 out of 4

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McCoy Burger Company

: 3334 Yonge Street, Toronto

It’s a bold move opening a burger joint on this particular stretch of Yonge Street, mere steps away from both the Burger’s Priest and the Burger Cellar, and just a few blocks north of Stack.  That area is pretty well covered in terms of burger availability.  You’ve gotta have confidence in what you’re selling to wade into that scrum.

So with cojones like that, I wanted to like McCoy Burger Company.  I really did.  And I didn’t dislike it; it was just aggressively average.

They’ve got a few pre-topped burgers on the menu, and a few different meat choices aside from beef (chicken, lamb, turkey). I did my usual thing and went with the simplest choice: the plain McCoy Burger, which I had topped with mayo, pickles, and tomato.


The patty has a little bit of crust from the griddle, though it’s not really enough to add a whole lot of texture or flavour. The menu, confusingly, refers to the patty as being “grilled to perfection,” even though it has obviously been griddled (I think they just don’t realize that there are different words for grilling or griddling a hamburger).

The texture is actually pretty good — the loosely-packed patty had a nice, coarse grind, and though it was cooked all the way to well done, it was still a little bit juicy.

It’s the flavour that really sinks the burger.  They season the patty with some kind of spice blend; that’s generally not my favourite, but it wasn’t too overwhelming.  The biggest problem is the flavour of the beef itself; it’s just kind of tasteless, with a slightly off flavour that you typically only get from middling quality beef.

It’s a shame; with better tasting beef and with a bit more crust from the griddle (which they obviously know how to do — the video on their website shows a burger with an impressive amount of crust, so your mileage may vary), the burger could have been well above average, but instead it’s just a resounding shrug.

The fries, on the other hand, were great — featuring an addictively crispy exterior and a fluffy interior, they were really hard to stop eating.

2.5 out of 4

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Tallboys Craft Beer House

Location: 838 Bloor Street West, Toronto

I’ll admit that Tallboys was barely even on my radar before a few days ago.  I had vaguely heard of it, but with their seemingly single-minded focus on curating an impressive selection of beers, I had sort of figured that food would be an afterthought.  It didn’t even occur to me that they might have a hamburger worth eating.

But then, while browsing Instagram while watching a particularly boring episode of True Blood (seriously, how did that show get so terrible??  Did they replace their writing staff with a bunch of particularly dim-witted chimps?) I stumbled onto a picture of the burger at Tallboys.  It certainly grabbed my attention more than the shoddy episode I was watching.  It actually looked good.  Not perfunctory at all.

It didn’t take much more than that for me to find myself at Tallboys a few days later, scanning the menu (they have five burger choices, all double burgers with two four ounce patties) and quickly settling on the Classic: “lettuce, tomato, pickle & scallion mayo.”

Since I was driving I didn’t partake in their impressive beer selection; needless to say, if you’re into that sort of thing, it’s reason enough to visit.


The main thing that caught my eye while browsing through Instagram was the awe-inducing crust on the patties.  When you cook a patty on a sufficiently hot griddle, you wind up with a dark crust that adds a ton of flavour and texture.   This seems like a no-brainer, but there are plenty of Toronto burger joints that griddle-cook their burger and still get this completely wrong.

The chef at Tallboys has clearly mastered this particular technique; the crust on their burgers is abundant and it is glorious.  Based on the pictures I saw on Instagram and the burgers both I and my dining companion were served, this is something the kitchen pulls off every time.  Good stuff.

The patties also had a really great, deeply satisfying beefy flavour that made this one of the tastier burgers I’ve had in quite a while.  It’s kind of amazing how big of a difference using good quality beef makes, but you can tell instantly that they’re using top-shelf stuff.

I do, unfortunately, have a couple of issues.  The texture is off; I think the beef has been a bit overhandled, making it denser than I’d like.  It’s also, like so many other burgers in the GTA, dryer than it should be.  It probably doesn’t help that it’s been cooked all the way to the end of well done, but even still it does retain a bit of juiciness.

Still, those are relatively minor complaints.  Though they do hold the burger back from greatness, it’s still pretty damn good.

The condiments are above average as well — the scallion mayo in particular adds a nice kick of flavour without ever overpowering the beef.

The bun deserves special mention.  Though it’s a bit too wide for the patties, it’s soft enough to not get in the way, and substantial enough to hold up very well to the patties and the condiments.  It also has this lightly crispy, subtly crackly exterior that’s pretty much irresistible.

As for the fries, aside from being ever-so-slightly undercooked, they were quite tasty.

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Tallboys - Craft Beer House on Urbanspoon

Burger Legend

: 236 Queen Street South, Mississauga

I don’t typically find myself in Streetsville, but when I heard a new burger joint had opened there, I figured I’d head over and give it a shot.  Burger Legend apparently started as a food truck, and I guess it did well enough to justify a stand-alone restaurant.

It’s a fairly small place, and kind of oddly laid out (it feels like there’s a lot of empty space where more tables could be put).  It’s also weirdly quiet, which is a little bit off-putting.

They have a handful of burger choices on the menu, but The Great One is labeled as their signature item, so that’s what I went with.  It’s topped with cheddar cheese, maple smoked bacon, mixed greens, tomato, and Bawss Sauce.

It’s a solid burger.  Like with most of the new burger joints opening in the GTA, it’s a smashed/griddled burger.  The beef is coarsely ground, it’s not too densely packed, and it has a little bit of crust from the griddle; it definitely has a pretty good texture.  It’s not the juiciest burger I’ve ever had, but it certainly isn’t dry, either.  It also has a decently beefy flavour. It’s pretty good.


The burger patty came piping hot, which means they probably aren’t giving it any time to rest after cooking.  Not sure if that would make a huge difference in this case, but it’s worth noting.

The very thickly cut maple bacon tastes okay, but it’s completely overwhelming as a topping on a hamburger.  Aside from its sheer thickness, it has an exceptionally strong maple flavour — it basically tastes like they dunked it in maple syrup immediately prior to serving.  On the burger, it’s all you can taste.  I removed it almost immediately (and even then, the maple flavour lingered).

The Bawss sauce, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as overwhelming as the bacon — pretty much the opposite, actually.  It was so subtle that neither my dining companion nor I could figure out what it actually tasted like, other than that it was mayo-based.  I typically like plain mayo on my burger, so this certainly wasn’t an issue for me.

The burger comes with both sides of the bun toasted on the griddle; it almost appears as though they toasted the assembled hamburger whole on the grill, as though it were a grilled cheese sandwich.  It’s an interesting touch, though it does lead to a less photogenic (and messier) hamburger.

All in all it’s a pretty tasty hamburger, though if you’re not already in the vicinity of Streetsville, it’s not particularly worth going out of your way for.

As for the chunky fries, they were decent enough — though they were a bit soggy, and a touch undercooked in the middle.

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Burger Legend on Urbanspoon

Blue Goose

235 Queens Quay West, Toronto (Harbourfront)
Website: None, but they do have some info on Twitter

I’ve eaten a lot of burgers over the course of my lifetime.  This is actually the 50th hamburger that I’ve reviewed since starting this blog back in 2011.  I’ve also eaten my share of un-reviewed hamburgers over the last three years, and of course, I was a fairly profligate burger-eater pre-Tasty Burgers.    I’m going to guess that I’ve eaten a thousand hamburgers in my lifetime, and I’m going to say that this is a fairly conservative estimate.

This is all to say that when I make the statement that a particular hamburger is the best hamburger I’ve ever eaten in my entire life, this is not a statement I take lightly.  So please, imagine that I have the gravitas of Morgan Freeman and the seriousness of Edward R. Murrow when I say this:  The burger that I just had at Blue Goose is quite possibly the best hamburger that I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.


Blue Goose was actually started by Blue Goose Pure Foods, a producer of various types of “farm to fork” organic meats.   Knowing that the restaurant was started by a company that takes its meat seriously, I had high hopes.

It’s based out of a shipping container on the Toronto Harbourfront (along with Sully’s Honest Dogs and Lobster Roll), which is odd.  But who knows, maybe shipping containers are the new food truck.  This is actually the second group of shipping container-based eateries to grace our city (the first being the Scadding Court ones near Kensington market — including Wiggle Room, a burger place I’ve been meaning to check out).


For obvious reasons, these ones are only sticking around until the end of the summer, so if you want to check out this burger (and trust me, you want to check out this burger) you’d better not dilly-dally too much.

Though I had high hopes from the get-go, I knew I was probably in for something special when the girl behind the grill began to prepare my hamburger.  She pulled out a glorious ball of pink and white ground beef, and as soon as I saw it my eyes widened with joy.  A Toronto establishment which knows that the words “lean” and “hamburger” should absolutely never be used in conjunction with each other is a rare treasure indeed.

She placed the beef on the sizzling griddle, smashed it down and seasoned it liberally with salt.  No other spices, no onions, no garlic, just great quality meat, salt, and searing heat.  Perfection.

And make no mistake, this is great quality meat.  Amazingly rich and almost obscenely beefy, it’s abundantly clear that Blue Goose is not kidding around when it comes to the quality of their beef.  When I rally against overly-busy meatloaf burgers, this is why.  Because I know that when you start out with really good meat and cook it properly, you can end up with an amazingly complex, incredibly satisfying flavour that you don’t want to mess with.

As for the refreshingly non-lean, fatty beef?  Yes.  It was so rich, so juicy, and so incredibly delectable.  The beef was also — as it should be — coarsely ground and loosely packed, and had such a great texture.  Seriously: perfection.

Look, I know this is all coming off as insanely hyperbolic, but what can I say?  I loved this hamburger.


It has quite a few toppings (cheddar, caramelized onion, pickle, lettuce, and tomato); this would normally perturb me, but here all the ingredients work together such perfect harmony that I wouldn’t change a single thing.   The cheddar comes perfectly melted and adds a creamy tang without ever threatening to overpower the beef.  The richly unctuous caramelized onions compliment the meat quite fantastically.  And the lettuce, tomato, and pickle help to give the burger balance and cut the richness of the onions, cheese, and beef.

The toasted sesame seed bun was fine.  It was probably the only element of this hamburger that wasn’t knock-me-back amazing, but there was certainly nothing wrong with it and it complimented the burger well.

They serve a single burger, and a double.  I started with the single, and it was so damn good that I did something that I’ve never done before: I went right back and ordered another one.  A double this time (well, I split it with my dining companion — I’m not that gluttonous).  These are not wimpy patties, so the double was fairly enormous, but I think I liked it even better.  This one had a higher proportion of beef to the other ingredients, and was thus even more richly beefy.  It was outstanding.

As I think should be pretty clear by now, this hamburger is absolutely essential.  If you’re anywhere near the GTA and you have even a passing interest in burgers, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  I’ve only given out four perfect ratings since starting this blog: Burger’s Priest, Holy Chuck, Allen’s, and White Squirrel Snack Shop.  This one beats them all.

Go eat it.  Now.

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