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Introducing: The Burger’s Priest on Yonge, the much-anticipated second location of Shant Mardirosian’s all-American roadhouse

Looking out onto Yonge Street

On the opening night at The Burger’s Priest’s eagerly anticipated second location at Yonge and Lawrence, owner Shant Mardirosian had butterflies in his stomach. I was sweating buckets,” says the man behind what many consider to be Toronto’s best burger. But when the doors finally swung open, the eager crowd outside burst into a spontaneous cheer, leaving Mardirosian at a loss for words. “It was insanity. It brought a tear to my eye, to be honest. I’m blown away by what’s going on.”

Since opening the original Priest in the east end two summers ago, Mardirosian has dominated Toronto’s burger wars, with acolytes from all corners of the city making the trek to that nondescript stretch of Queen East to try his brand of California-style patties: a custom blend of freshly ground, never-frozen beef, cooked on a flat top and dressed with only the most elemental of toppings. So with a product that’s already inspired a religious following, why the butterflies? “Coming to a place with no parking, that historically is only decent for restaurants, it definitely felt like a huge risk,” he told us. When news of the upcoming second location broke last year, a chorus of west enders groaned about getting the shaft. “West end real estate is going through the roof,” explains Mardirosian. “I know if we go to the west end it’s going to be a mad house. It’s going to be busy, so it has to be big.”

At three times the size of the original, the new joint now includes washrooms and roughly 16 stools at which customers can work their way through a menu that devout followers are no doubt already familiar with. All the staples of the classic California roadhouse are here: the standard cheeseburger ($5.29); their infamous veggie option, appropriately titled “The Option” ($7.99), which consists of two portobello mushroom caps, stuffed with cheese and deep fried; and, of course, fries ($3.29), thicker here than at the flagship, which can be upgraded to chili cheese fries for an extra $2.50. The only new thing is the milkshakes ($4), in chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and coffee, which can be ordered separately at a small window tucked away from the main counter. As for the not-so-secret menu made famous by The Vatican—two patties encased by two grilled cheese sandwiches—Mardirosian is always open to new ideas. “If a customer suggests something and we like it, just think of a biblical name we’ll put it on the menu.”

The Burger’s Priest, 3397 Yonge St., 647-346-0617, theburgerspriest.com

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