EATIN AUSTIN: Heavy metal dive bars & Texas-sized doughnuts on 6th Street

So we’re hanging out at Casino el Camino, this funky little dive bar on 6th street. This place is cranking AC/DC and Iron Maiden on the jukebox, and I’m not even picking the tunes, bro! It’s like, I walk into a bar, and they’re playing “Blind in Texas” by WASP–how cool is that!?

But the kitchen is where the real magic happens. They’ve got these crazy burgers, hot dogs and fries, and they’re grilling em up right before your eyes! Check it out–that’s three-quarter pounds of beef, bro!

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They call this the Buffalo burger, and it’s like a Leon Lett fumble recovery to the tastebuds, bro! This one’s going Wide Right…into my mouth! You’ve got the thickest burger I’ve seen since that one time, in Cooperstown, a nice tangy blue cheese, grilled with Buffalo wing sauce…and no veggies, cuz who needs veggies, anyways?

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Now, on the side we’ve got some verde chili fries. So, they take some French fried potaters, slather em in cheese sauce, then stick some salsa verde on top. This dish is equal parts cheesy, spicy, and funky, son! I’m pretty sure I could eat this off a flip flop…

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But you KNOW I still had room for dessert, bro! So I headed a couple blocks down the street to Voodoo Doughnuts, the legendary Portland doughnut place…but they’ve got one here now, too. I beat the lineup at Camino’s, but when I got to the doughnut shop, the line was almost out the door! And speaking of tuneage, they were playing Rush, Black Sabbath and Van Halen when I walked in…I should maybe just move here, or something.

Now, they call this the Tex Ass doughnut, and it’s freaking huge! The thing takes up the whole box, and it’s so big, I pretty much need two hands to eat it:

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Take the biggest glazed doughnut you’ve ever seen, and multiply it by three. And lemme tell ya, they put the dough in doughnut here. This pillowy bread cushion practically melts in your mouth–which is good because I could barely even chew it by the end. But you know I did finish it, bro!!!

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Guess I don’t need no breakfast tomorrow…

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It’s like Triple B in a pie, bro!

So, I’m heading off to the bank to get some Icelandic koronas, when I spot this funky little Aussie-style pie shop in the food court. At Kanga, they’re serving up nine kinds of savoury pies—and they’ve even got sausage rolls, son! You could go around the world with a Traditional Aussie, a Kiwi Classic, or even a butter chicken pie, but it was the Canadian that caught my eye, for obvious reasons:

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OK, let’s break it down. You’ve got some frickin’ yuuuge pieces of steak, meaty chunks of bacon, braised with Amsterdam Downtown Brown beer, and a savoury gravy, all inside a warm, flakey crust. Dude, this is body by yuuuge pieces of steak, meaty chunks of bacon, Amsterdam Downtown Brown beer, and a savoury gravy inside a warm, flakey crust! Normally, when I get a meat pie at like Longo’s or something, I’m like, where’s the beef bro? Well, it’s right here. All of it. The only thing that could make this place more funkalicious is if they added a lamb pie. Can you say Dirty Deeds Done With Sheep?

Pizza: It’s not just for breakfast anymore!

So, we’re hanging out at 7 West Cafe, this funky neighbourhood joint on Charles Street, just offa Yonge. This place is open 24/7, 365 days a year, and they’ve been serving up classic comfort food for over 24 years—that’s older than some of my Motley Crue tour shirts, bro!

Now, when you’re open all day and all of the night, you know you’ve gotta do all-day breakfast. And while they’ve got the classics like a breakfast bagel, Denver omelette and two eggs any style, they also funk it up with this cross between omelette and crust…the breakfast pizza:

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OK, let’s break it down. You’ve got your ham, you’ve got your mushrooms, you’ve got a whole buncha cheese, and then there’s not one, but two sunny-side-up eggs in the middle. Shut the back door! There is so much stuff on here that it kinda weighs down the crust a bit, but when you get that perfect bite, it’s like breakfast, lunch and dinner—all rolled into one! It comes in personal pan and 10”, but you know I went with the big 10-incher…and I would still have room for dessert, but who eats dessert for breakfast, bro???

This might be the best BLT in Toronto…

Now, if I was to build a culinary empire around just one ingredient, it would hafta be bacon–cuz hey, it takes several great ingredients to make a burger, right? Now, I’ve already been to Bacon Nation a buncha times, but there’s this funky little joint on Ossignton where they don’t just put bacon in every dish, they build every dish around bacon!

That’s right, at Rashers, they’ve got no less than a dozen different bacon sammies to choose from. And while I kinda just wanted to drop 120 bucks and order one of everything, I figured I had to go with their take on a traditional diner classic: the BLT. But this ain’t just any old BLT, cuz it’s got house-made beer mayo, bro!!!

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OK, now let’s break it down. For starters, they put this thing on a warm ciabatta bun–there ain’t no dry white toast here, Elwood! The lettuce is fresh and crispy, you get a nice juiciness from the tomato, and I could probably pound a pint of that beer mayo, bro! But the star of the show has gotta be the bacon. Just look at how thick it is! And they cook it just right, so that it’s not too crispy, but not too chewy either. I’m trying to think of a time that I had a better bacon sandwich…but I’m drawing a blank. Hey, you know what they say: so much bacon, such little brain cells, broseph!!!!

The food at Brewhaha ain’t no laughing matter!

So, we’re hanging out at Brewhaha, this cozy neighbourhood basement bar on Prince Arthur Ave, just a stone’s throw from St. George subway station. Basically, they took the downstairs of a Duke of York and made it a bit cozier, with a buncha local craft beers on tap…like this here 8th Sin Black Lager:

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This Hop City brew is halfway between a lager and a stout, with a chocolately, coffee taste, but a light, easy-drinking finish. It’s like when you’ve had Guinness for breakfast and lunch, and want something else for dinner…try an 8th Sin Black Lager!

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Now, this was the dish that brought me in the door—the Cheesy Weiny Mac ‘n Dreamy. You’ve got mac ‘n cheese, deep-fried weiners, and then some crispy onions on top, for that one serving of vegetables. The hot dogs are real hot, straight outta the fryer, but the mac is not super cheesy, and does not have much bite. Still, I’ve put worse things in my mouth for $7.99 before…

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Which brings us to the parmesan crusted grilled cheese. Could you tell from looking at it that there was parmesan in the crust? Me neither, even after tasting it. There’s also bacon in here, and some clumpy tomatoes…that kinda overpower everything else. And that’s without mentioning the bowl of lukewarm tomato sauce on the side! They also say this dish comes with ketchup chips, but these tasted more like plain or maybe BBQ to me…

Bottom line with this place is that the price might be right, but the food is wrong, bro!

This must be the unhealthiest meal in Tim Hortons history!

Now, I don’t normally eat at Tim Hortons, dude. If I want a soup and a sandwich…I just go to Panera Bread, bro! But lately, Timmy Ho’s has a whole new menu, and they’re serving up some real-deal comfort food that’s both delicious and unnutritious! So here’s the move—Crispy Chicken Sandwich, served club style with cheese and bacon, a side of Loaded Potato Wedges and a new Churro Donut for dessert!

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Now, I gotta say, this chicken burger is better than anything I’ve had at McDonald’s or Wendy’s lately. The chicken is super crispy, the bun is nice and soft, the bacon is not too chewy…and they actually use real cheddar cheese, bro! I don’t think Mickey D’s has ever done that, dude!

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Now, Timmy’s apparently pissed some people off by giving away 4 million potato wedges instead of coffee in Roll Up the Rim—but who needs coffee when you can have potato, bro!? These fully loaded wedges come with chili and cheese on top—and this is body by chili and cheese, son! The chili actually absorbs nicely into the potato, but I think if they used some of that real cheddar cheese instead of this stringy white stuff, it would kick this dish up a notch, knowwhatImsayin?

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Now, I gotta be honest, after consuming over 770 calories already, I almost didn’t have room for dessert. But you know I can’t say no to churros, bro! This looks kinda like a honey cruller, but they put a whole buncha powdered sugar on top, and then there’s caramel on the inside!!!??? Shut the back door!

Now, Timmy’s hasn’t put the loaded wedges or the churro donut up on its nutrition site yet, but if I add the unloaded wedges and a honey cruller to the crispy chicken club, I’m eating 1050 calories…so this was probably a few more. I might only need three fried chickens and a Coke for dinner instead of four!!!

Pounding back some Alberta brewskis at the Winter Craft Beer Fest!

Now, I don’t always drink beer outside in the snow, but when I heard that the Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival was bringing six of Alberta’s best brewers to town for two days only, you know I was there with hiking boots on (cuz nobody wears flip-flops in the snow, bro)! You’ve got Big Rock, you’ve got Brewsters, and even a couple I’ve never heard of before…cuz I took a wrong turn somewhere in Moose Jaw and ended up in Toronto back in 2005. But man, this was like a trip down memory lane in Boozy Flavourtown, dude!

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But unlike last summer, I wasn’t about to start drinking on an empty stomach. So I giddy on up’ed to Evviva, this funky little brunch spot on Lower Simcoe Street. It looks like a few other craft brew bros had the same idea, cuz the place was pretty packed by 10 am! But you don’t even hafta wait till lunchtime to order this honkey tonk redonkadonk sammish, son! They call it the Crown Burger, and it’s pretty much the King of Brunch. You’ve got a nice, thick, flame-grilled patty with crispy lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles, along with some prepare-to-party Havarti and a fried egg on top! I’m not sure if this counts as breakfast, lunch or dinner…but they close at 3 pm, so it’s probably not dinner, then.

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Once I made it through the gate, I kicked off my beerventure with my old friends at Big Rock, who now have their very own brewpub in TO, bro! (Remind me to check that place out sometime soon.) They were serving up Grasshopper, an old Flavourtown favourite, but I decided to try something new, instead. They call this one Cashmere Crooner, which must make it the Rhinestone Cowboy‘s cousin, or something. A lighter, single-hop lager, it’s got a bit of a fruitiness to it, but can still belt out “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie” like nobody’s business, bro!

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Next, I hit up Grizzly Paw, this funky little brewery from cross-country ski country–coming straight outta Canmore, son! I went with their Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat Beer, which is kinda like Lakeport Honey Lager…if Lakeport actually tasted good!

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Now, I remember hanging out at Brewsters Brewpub in Crowfoot Crossing back in the day. They used to have unlimited soda pop refills, and this killer dry-ice sundae for dessert! But one thing they weren’t serving up back then was this Hawaiian Coconut Porter. It’s like they put a coconut in the Guinness then they shake it all up!!!

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Blindman Brewing is this little local brewery up in Lacombe serving up tallboys of some pretty righteous stuff, son! This here’s their Long Shadows IPA, which has a nice, hoppy, citrusy taste and packs an unexpected kick at 7.1 per cent!

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Now, The Dandy Brewing Company definitely wins the prize for best beer name. They call this Une Vieille Maitresse, but while she may be old, she’s hardly a cruel mistress. A light, Belgian-style ale with just four per cent alcohol, I could probably pound seven of these and still finish reading Le Petit Prince!

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And finally, we’re saving the fruitiest for last with the Aprikat, from Edmonton’s Alley Kat Brewing Company. They use natural apricot extract in this wheat beer to make it actually taste like apricots, bro! And apparently they use it to make Apricot Beer Waffles–gonna hafta get me some of those next time I’m in Deadmonton, son!

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Now, you wouldn’t think I’ve still got room after pounding a buncha Alberta craft beers and a righteous, real-deal brunch burger, but you know I’ve always got room for pulled-pork pierogis! And there’s this saucy little joint on Dundas, just west of Dovercourt, that was doing ’em up right before your eyes! Because when haven’t you wished you could get some righteous BBQ inside a pillowy soft potato? I know I have, bro!

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But of course, I left just a little bit of room for dessert. Can you say deep-fried cheesecake balls, bro? Even with the warm, cripsy coating, the cake inside stayed cool ‘n creamy. It’s like a Christmas Day miracle in Flavourtown, son!!!!