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1 | NATURALLY RAISED BEEF BURGER
THE HARBORD ROOM Chef Cory Vitiello’s devotion to the details snagged him the Burger King title. He grinds heritage Ontario beef briskets fresh every day and grills the meat to a melting medium rare. It’s piled onto a buttery egg bun with tangy four-year-old cheddar, brittle house-smoked maple bacon, coarse Guinness mustard and lemony aïoli. Every bite is juicy, rich and gooey, with a bit of crunch. It’s the quintessential fancy burger. $16. 89 Harbord St., 416-962-8989.
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2 | JOHN’S BURGER
MARBEN In-house butcher Ryan Donovan breaks down a whole side of beef from Dingo farms in Bradford. Then chef Misha Nesterenko braises the short rib and neck, shreds the meat and blends it with the lesser cuts. He drapes the patties with sharp cheddar and adds sweet-and-sour Branston pickle. Extra napkins are essential for sopping up the juices from your chin. $17. 488 Wellington St. W., 416-979-1990.
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3 | CLASSIC BURGER
THE STOCKYARDS When Tom Davis opened his ’cue shack in 2009, he spent two months toying with 20 recipes to find the ideal mix of cuts (brisket, chuck and he’s not telling what). Cooked by the griddle-smash method—he forms the meat into mounds on the hot flat-top—the loose six-ounce patties develop a beautiful crust. Of the five variations on the menu, the classic is the absolute best: tomato, pickles, red onion and crème fraîche aïoli. $7. 699 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-658-9666.
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4 | JENNIFER’S STILTON BRISKET BURGER
NOTA BENE Chef David Lee stole his wife’s eponymous recipe for Nota Bene. The beauty of the burger is in the haute refinements: freshly chopped tarragon, parsley, marjoram and rosemary perfume the patty, which is made from a blend of Cumbrae’s brisket and chuck. Lee special-orders buns from Thuet to nail just the right bun-to-patty ratio. He keeps the toppings minimal: just piquant Stilton and darkly caramelized onions. $22. 180 Queen St. W., 416-977-6400.
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5 | COWLORIE
HOLY CHUCK The most emphatically hedonistic burger on this list, the aptly named Cowlorie brings two loosely packed, cheese-smothered patties, crisp bacon and onions between butter-drenched grilled cheese sandwiches instead of buns. The first bite unleashes a geyser onto the plate and a wave of endorphins into the bloodstream. $12. 1450 Yonge St., 416-962-4825.
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6 | DOUBLE CHEESEBURGER
THE BURGER’S PRIEST The cooks at TBP don’t mess around with artisanal anything. They just grind beef fresh, char the patties perfectly, slather on ballpark toppings and slap it all on grocery store buns. Order the double, done Jarge-style (mustard is seared right into the patty) and topped with onions. $8. 1636 Queen St. E., 647-346-0617.
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7 | GRASS-FED BURGER
BYMARK The choice of manly power lunchers since 2003, Bymark’s burger is made of a luscious half-pound of grass-fed strip loin and paired with raw-milk brie, porcini mushrooms and funky truffle aïoli. The Ace bun is cheap for the $35 price tag, but the meat is too good to hold a grudge. 66 Wellington St. W., 416-777-1144.
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8 | SIMPLE HAMBURGER
ALLEN’S Chef Ponniah Vijeyaratnam brings in a whole grass-, barley- and hay-fed steer from Flamborough. He cuts off the steaks, grinds the rest and hand-forms it into discs with little more than salt. They fly off the grill at a rate of 1,500 per week. Purists order it neat—just meat and bun. $11.25. 143 Danforth Ave., 416-463-3086.
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9 | COUNTY BURGER
THE COUNTY GENERAL A soft, sweet, seed-speckled Thuet milk bun embraces a six-ounce patty made of Cumbrae’s chuck, sirloin and finger (the tender meat between the ribs). It needs nothing more than a few dollops of Kozlik’s mustard and mayo, and some crunchy quick-pickled cukes. $14. 936 Queen St. W., 416-531-4447.
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10 | HOMEMADE ALL-STAR
GOLDEN STAR Thornhill’s classic diner, with its Formica tables and vinyl booths, has barely changed since it opened in 1964. Ignore the previously frozen pucks in favour of the moist, insanely sloppy house-made versions. They’re the best old-school burgers in the GTA (sorry, Johnny’s). $6.50. 7123 Yonge St., 905-889-6891.
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11 | MAPLE BACON
E11EVEN Chef Robert Bartley layers a gargantuan half-pound patty (Canadian prime top butt) with rashers of sherry-glazed maple bacon, malty Guinness cheddar, tomatoes, pickles, iceberg lettuce and mayo on a toasted, buttered bun. You’ll need elastic-waisted pants and a nap afterward. $25. 15 York St., 416-815-1111.
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12 | ELK SLIDER
UNION Chef Teo Paul brings in game from a farm in Rockwood. The rare patties are a touch sweet from an Asian galangal-mirin glaze, and spicy from sambal mayo. He serves them three to an order, opened-faced on challah toast with bread-and-butter pickles for sweet-sour crunch. $14. 72 Ossington Ave., 416-850-0093.
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13 | ORIGIN BURGER
ORIGIN Chef Claudio Aprile worked with Cumbrae’s to develop a secret beef blend exclusively for his King Street restaurant. The huge orbs develop a smoky, charred exterior that gives way to a perfect pink interior. Chunky guacamole and spicy chipotle-cumin mayo make inspired complements. $17. 107–109 King St. E., 416-603-8009.
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14 | LAMB BURGER
BLUE PLATE Masala-spiced chutney kicks up a combo of lamb, Gouda, double-smoked bacon and spinach. $17. 392 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-538-7500.em>
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15 | CHEESEBURGER
PARTS AND LABOUR Aged cheddar drapes a half-pound of Ontario beef. A mayo-ketchup-hot-sauce combo spikes it with heat. $18. 1566 Queen St. W., 416-588-7750.
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16 | SIRLOIN BURGER
THE GABARDINE Bacon and a puckery pickled green tomato slice top a lean but incredibly umami-rich patty. $17. 372 Bay St., 647-352-3211.
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17 | MTK BURGER
MILDRED’S TEMPLE KITCHEN A half-pounder is smothered with tomato relish and addictively crispy fried onion strips. $18. 85 Hanna Ave., 416-588-5695.
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18 | PLJESKAVICA
HRVATI Steamed lepinje makes a chewy platform for Ontario beef, smoked mozz, caramelized onion and pickles. $14. 690 Euclid Ave., 647-350-4227.
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19 | STRIP LOIN BURGER
CRUSH An intensely beefy Wellington strip loin is luxuriously coupled with smoked cheddar and pancetta. $18. 455 King St. W., 416-977-1234.
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20 | CANADIAN BURGER
THE DRAKE Ontario beef is stacked with Quebec cheddar, bacon and Russian dressing on a Silverstein’s bun. $18. 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042.
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21 | DRY-AGED BURGER
BESTELLEN Dry-aged beef makes for a deliriously tender patty with raclette and caramelized onions on brioche. $18. 972 College St., 647-341-6769.
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22 | DOUBLE BURGER
APACHE BURGERS Two patties wear processed cheese like a shiny bowling jacket. Request it with tangy barbecue sauce. $7.59. 5236 Dundas St. W., 416-233-3046.
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23 | HAND-CHOPPED BURGER
THE QUEEN AND BEAVER Packed prime makes for a steak-like texture. Thick bacon slices add extra heft, as does the dense bun. $17. 35 Elm St., 647-347-2712.
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24 | BRIOCHE BURGER
DRIFT Fresh-baked sesame brioche holds a fat patty covered in white cheddar, red onion and tomato jam. $10. 1063 Bloor St. W., 647-352-5335.
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25 | MINI KOBE BURGERS
TREVOR KITCHEN AND BAR Lilliputian burgers are matched with arugula, roasted shiitakes and truffle mayo. $21. 38 Wellington St. E., 416-941-9410.
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25 BEST BURGERS