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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

Our Introducing series explores newly opened restaurants, bars and shops throughout the GTA
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  • Homer S.

    Is the burger in the 2nd last photo even cooked? You may need a priest indeed if they pass off raw sloppy-joes on wonderbuns as hamburgers…a greasy spoon is no place for steak tartare.

  • Shawn

    I’m going to take a ton of flak for this, but BP is very overrated. I like the “Priest” burger but that’s about it.

    Greasy, crappy packaging, the chilli cheese fries suck (shredded cheese and lackluster chilli?), the prices are high, you can’t eat in (at the original location) and its not that inviting to first-timers when the menu is (at best) non-descriptive and there’s a secret menu to boot. And the “smoke” I ordered on my burger was just two tiny-slices of jalapeno peppers deep-fried.

    I’d rather go to Holy Chuck, where there’s enough seats, its closer to downtown, the menu tells you what’s available, and there’s less of a pretentious vibe. The Holy Chuck’s equivalent to the “Priest” is far inferior to the “Priest”, but the rest of their menu is great.

  • cindy

    Hey homer, you like your meat well done huh? Must taste really amazing on your retard taste buds.

  • burgerfanatic

    Sorry, but the Angry Whopper, currently available from Burger King, is the most amazing burger-eating experience I’ve ever had in my life, bar none. I don’t see how a Burger’s Priest burger could even hope to come close.

  • bisca

    Who’s your new photographer, Zapruder?

  • nah

    you guys tried the new wendys menu? its just like the burger priest!

  • Lucas

    Shake Shack > In-n-Out > the Stockyards > Burgers Priest > Five Guys

    I haven’t had Holy Chuck yet but I doubt it can beat Stockyards/Shake Shack

  • Amanda

    I went to the new Burgers Priest today and LOVED it. Super fresh (and well cooked) beef and the portobello mushroom made the burger.

    @Shawn I went to Holy Chuck and found it overpriced and tasteless. But to each his own I suppose. Why does the fact that they have a secret menu bother you?

    @burgerfanatic pretty sure you’re just trying to get some lolz.

  • Crisisoffaith

    After a decent run in its first 18 months serving exceptional burgers, The Priest has been disappointing (if still pretty damn good) at its East End flagship for approximately as long as its owners have had their attention diverted by the launch of the West End cash cow. The novelty and simplicity of Wonder Buns is wonderful when the perfectly prepared (so salty!) beef is well, perfect. Increasingly sporadic testings in recent months have veered into overcooked territory. The other day I had a stale Wonder Bun.

    For a burger that had me raving like a lunatic back in late 2010, this is a sad, if not entirely unpredictable, decline. I blame the same thing that limits the appeal of most comestibles in this town (country, culture?): craft. It is often too difficult to train people well enough, fast enough, to reproduce that type of quality on a scale that makes rapid expansion possible. The guy who’s cooking my burgers on Queen E now is likely serious about what he does, but he needs his 10,000 hours fast.

    … One note: having tasted the early genuine article, I’m ruined for most other burgers in Toronto. Suggestions welcome.

  • Joe Simpson

    @ Homer S.

    I agree, a greasy spoon is no place for rare beef.

    That’s why I go to The Priest.

    @ Crisisoffaith

    Unfortunately I concur. I only make it over to the east end location about once or twice a month but I have noticed a bit of a decline in quality. Nothing stale or overcooked but not quite as good as when Shant is behind the counter.

    @ Lucas

    Yes, Shake Shack and In and Out sure are tasty, everything tastes better when you’re on vacation…

  • ex-Parisian

    Went to the new Burger Priest on Yonge and was extremely disappointed. The most unexciting, ordinary, over-priced burger I’ve ever had. The Stockyards beats this burger by miles.

  • ebs

    Shant,

    Come to Etobicoke dude.

  • tony

    holy chuck is a stolen idea from the priest.. the place is a complete joke… the owner is a loser who wears pj pants to cook in, stop posting bad things about the priest to get biz into your door..

  • tony

    shant keep up the good work.. there will always be haters when theres lots of money coming in… dont forget smiles are free lol!

  • OMP

    Another great east end burger place is GBK.

    Great Burger Kitchen, lots of interesting options, decent poutine (not getting into THAT argument here) have not been unhappy there yet…

  • Petero

    I too have noticed a decline in consistency and quality at BP. I am one of those who likes his burger med rare. Early on at BP they would do it if you asked. The last 3 times I have gone I say med rare, and they write it down. I get well done. I am sorry to say it, but well done, BP is not much better than any other well done burger. The original was Toronto’s best or close to it (Stockyards IMHO is as good or better, but lately a secret menu doesn’t help me enjoy an overcooked cheeseburger.

  • Matheus

    I hope you enjoy the fall! It’s my frviaote time of year and I missed it so much while in Oz last year.Heather recently posted..

  • CRA

    Cash only?? Hhmmmm.

  • RD

    Priest is pretty good though the cash only thing is annoying. And some of the stuff on the secret menu (which isn’t really secret) is great. I still much prefer Grindhouse though.

  • Burger lover

    I used to be a BP guy and swore by it!; Until Hoy Chuck opened! BP is good but totally over rated. HC you can tell uses better quality beef, their fries are 1000 times better, service is extremely friendly and non pretentious and their milkshakes are untouchable! I’d rather give my money to people who actually seem like they give a shit about their customers!

  • Cindy

    Homer was worried about the burger not being cooked. Apparently Burger Priest grind their own meat daily. You can eat rare ground beef if it has been ground shortly before cooking. In other words, not as long as the packages that you would normally buy at the grocery store have sat around. If they brought in their ground beef I’d be hesitant to try it rare.

  • Jimbo Bob

    Heard the hype and went in for a visit tonight. Line up at the door at 7pm on a Monday. Mostly teenagers. Small noisy, cramped location, long wait. Opened the bag – very surprised at how how small it was considering it cost $9.48 for a regular burger and fries – no drink. Small burger with what looked like a Wonder Bread bun. Gotta say reminded me of a Wendy’s burger. Massive amount of fries probably to try and hide the small burgers. Pretty good fries. It’s a good burger joint but no In-N-Out Burger.

  • Toronto My Way

    I wish y’all had the chance to enjoy a Ciros burger…before “new management” ruined it.

    I’m looking for a new favourite burger. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen is fabulous; yes, I order it medium-rare – but, at $18, it’s not cheap at all.

  • John Smith

    Burgers were Great! The chilli fries were pretty good. Price doable… But will NEVER GO BACK!!! … After spending $60 on this place… We weren’t even allowed to stay because my child was holding a chicken nugget happy meal from McDonalds. So decided to eat on the bench outside the restaurant… While trying to enjoy their chilli fries… We were again asked to leave cause my child was drinking his shake. GREAT customer service !!! Way to go!!!

  • burgermann

    BP invite pretentious foodies to shoot the s____. If you listen to then, you’ll find them there blabbing at all times of the day.

    The burgers are better than mainstream franchises. The trade off is the limited distribution and the higher price point. That’s it foodies. Nothing more to talk about and no need to throw Harvey’s under the bus. That’s just your ignorance talking.

  • Foodie

    Not sure why some people rave about this place. I ordered The Priest which came with a greasy deep fried portabella mushroom. Bun was soggy and all I can taste was salt and grease, the burger had no flavour. Same for the fries…salty beyond edible and just a greasy lump. 2 combos came to $36, which is really expensive for the greasy lumps we got. There are way better burgers out there. This one is quite gross.

 

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