Lamb curry in a hurry @ Chaska Express

I didn’t learn to love Indian food until I discovered my first AYCE Indian buffet. But it turns out there’s a few funky Indian joints all over this city–we’ve even got an Indian food festival in the summertime, at Nathan Phillips Square. And now, just a Bollywood shimmy away at the Atrium on Bay, they’ve got some real-deal Indian street food…inside a food court!? This is Chaska Express:

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This funky little food stall definitely stands out next to Subway and Feta & Olives (which may or may not still be 10% off). And they’ve got all the meats–chicken tikka, lamb tikka, fish tikka, mint chicken and lamb kebabs. You can get ’em in a roll, with a rice or salad bowl, or even put three on a grill platter. (And FWIW, they’ve got veggie stuff, too.) Now I wouldn’t normally choose just one meat when I could have three, but this is body by lamb, bro, so I’m gonna go with a medium lamb tikka curry in a rice bowl:

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Now, first of all, when you order something “medium” at a food-court, you expect it to be white-people spicy, but this definitely had a decent kick. They give you about 7-8 chunks of meat, mixed with curry sauce, basmati rice, and a side cucumber/tomato salad that cools things down a bit. And for $12.99, this is not a small bowl, either! But you know I still had some room for samosa sliders, son!!!

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Now, I dunno whose idea it was to put a samosa between two buns, but give that man a Nobel Peace Prize in Flavourtown! These hot ‘n crunchy flavour pockets, stuffed with peas and potatoes, are totally slammable in this hand-held format. They’re two for $8.99–or you could get 20 for 90 bucks, in case you had to feed an entire cricket team, or something…

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I dunno McDonald’s, but I don’t think they smoke burgers in Carolina…

Now, I probably shoulda known better. But when I saw all those billboards for the McDonald’s Mighty Angus Carolina BBQ burger, I had so many questions. Is this supposed to be North Carolina or South Carolina BBQ? Do they know the difference between a mustard-based and a vinegar-based sauce? Would either of those sauces even taste good on a burger — much less a McDonald’s burger? And how long are you supposed to smoke a burger, anyways?

Well, after trying the Mighty Angus Carolina BBQ burger, I can tell you that it answered exactly none of those questions.

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Now, I’m not sure this is dramatically different from the Mighty Angus Alberta burger that they rolled out last year…although I never actually ate that one. There is nothing here that really screams Carolina, or BBQ, or Carolina BBQ for that matter. Yes, this is a slight upgrade from a Quarter Pounder; the patty is thicker and the bun has more chew. But now let’s break it down…

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What makes this different from a regular burger are the crispy onions, white cheese (they say it’s mozza but it tasted like nothing) and “golden Carolina BBQ sauce.” Now, to be fair, this is actually a thing…although I didn’t get any of the sauce until I was halfway through the burger. And while its namesake is mustard-based, Mickey D’s sauce was probably straight out of a packet labelled “tangy BBQ.” And no, it really doesn’t go good on a burger…especially not a burger from McDonald’s.

mcdonalds_carolina_bbq_burger (21)As you can see, they saved all the sauce till the end…

Badass beef brisket brunch burger @ Baro

Now, I don’t always eat brunch, but when I do, you’d better believe there’s beef brisket involved! So, we’re hanging out at Baro, this funky Latin joint on King West. Last year, we went here for some legit lomo saltado, so I know they know their beef. And when I saw the brisket sangwich on the brunch menu, I knew that it was heading straight down my piehole, son!!!

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OK, now let’s break it down. You’ve got a whole buncha pulled brisket on a potato bun, swimming in a tangy guava BBQ sauce, with a fried egg on top — don’t break the yoke, bro!!! Then you’ve got dill pickles, shredded lettuce and a side of home fries. Dude, my freestyle rap duo was called side of home fries!!! And then to wash it all down, we’ve got this classic Colombian cocktail called a refajo:

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What you’ve got here is light beer, mixed with Colombiana cream soda, and a bit of mango, garnished with an orange wedge. Now, I wasn’t that big on IC Light Mango, but this summer shandy from south of the border is pretty darn refreshing!!!

Grilled meats & craft beer @ Melrose on Adelaide

Even though I’m a massive meatatarian, I don’t go for charcuterie very often. I dunno bro, but it’s like why eat a buncha little meats when you can have one great big one? So now we’re hanging out at Melrose on Adelaide, this new funky joint in the heart of the Entertainment District, and this place used to be the Corned Beef House, home of the 16 oz sammy, so I know they’ve got the meats…even if they’re serving ’em up on a cutting board:

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So, we’re starting off with the grilled pastrami.. Call your mommy, that’s a lotta pastrami! Put it on a crostini, with some triple crunch mustard, and I’m all over that like Guy Fieri on garlic salt!!!

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At this establishment, they’ve got both kinds of sausage — jalapeno AND turkey! The jalapeno smokie is nice ‘n juicy, while the turkey has got some extra chunks of cheesiness. And they give you three of both at this crazy sausage party in Flavourtown!!!

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But the best thing on this charcuterie board might not even be meat! Man, when I heard it came with warm pretzels, I was like sign me up, son! Dude, this is body by warm pretzels!!!

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Of course, since this website ain’t Burgers, Bacon and Honey-Spiced Mead, you KNOW we’re diving in to some local craft beers, bro! Symington Saison from Henderson’s was light and refreshing, while Collective Arts’ Jam Up the Mash was even funkier than its Motor City counterpart. Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa, broseph!!!

Pork tacos three ways @ El Sazon Mexicano

Dude, you KNOW that Taco Tuesday is always my favourite day of the week, bro! So, we’re hanging out at El Sazón Mexicano, this funky little joint just east of the Italian part of St. Clair West. Now, I’d pretty much eat any kind of taco — you could make a taco out of a flip-flop, put it on a flip-flop, and it would still taste good! But when I heard they were serving up not one, not two, but three kinds of pork tacos…I pretty much had to try all of them!!!

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So, we’re starting off with chorizo. This meaty Mexican sausage was super greasy, but not too spicy. All of their tacos come the same way, topped with onions and cilantro, but I also added a little salsa verde to this one…

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Next up, we’ve got the Mexican radio star, Taco Al Pastor. This pork was nicely seasoned, super-tender…but maybe couldda used a slice of pineapple or two for that extra tangyness.

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Of course, we’re saving the best for last — las carnitas, cabron! This Mexican pulled pork had the perfect texture, with an extra squeeze of lime… Dude, this is body by carnitas!!!

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Now, because I didn’t get enough chorizo in my diet, I also went with an order of choriqueso. This dish is kinda like queso fundido, but less queso, more fun, bro! You pretty much get three large, cheesy chorizo tacos for just seven bucks here. Dude, all this food and a Mexican Coke was only 25 dollars after tax… That’s like 357 pesos, hermanos!!!

Why settle for a pancake burger when you can have a double pancake pork burger???

So, we’re hanging out at Lisa Marie, this funky fresh joint on Queen West. Now, we’ve been here before for some real-deal ribs at Winterlicious, and I also scarfed down some spaghetti and massive meatballs here on Toronto Beer Week…but I’ve heard that they’re really killing it for brunch — and they weren’t kidding — this place was packed, bro!

And lemme tell ya, their menu goes right after my bacon-loving heart. They’ve got steak ‘n eggs ‘n bacon, a peameal bacon sammy, and even something called the bacon explosion benedict — but when I saw the double pancake pork burger, I KNEW it was gonna be love at first bite!!!

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OK, now let’s break it down. You’ve got two meaty pork patties, topped with lettuce, tomato and cheese, served between three pancakes with a side of maple syrup. Now, I gotta say, this dish was super messy, even without the extra tree juice. The thin pancakes weren’t really designed to hold together that much meat, and everything was falling apart all over the place… But you KNOW I still ate this all with my hands, bro. Dude, eating a burger with a fork is like a five-year sentence in Flavourtown County Jail!!!

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Of course, you can’t have a burger without fries, and these duck fat home fries were like Breakfast Fries Gone Wild! The potaters were hot ‘n crispy, straight from the fryer, with a good crust and a nice grainy mustard smeared on the plate. Not to mention these things are friggin’ huge — pretty sure I’ve seen ducks at High Park that were not as big as these babies!!!

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Now, I don’t always drink beer for breakfast, but when I heard they were taking one of my all-time favourite brews, Big Rock Grasshopper, and mixing it with lemonade, well, I figured that pretty much counts as a fruit juice, right? This was actually quite refreshing, like a summer shandy wearing a toque or something… Too bad it was like -4 outside, bro!!!

Super-crispy fried chicky @ Gdous Juicy Chicken House

I guess I’ve been eating a lot of fried chicken lately. Whether it’s cheesy Korean style or a serious southern sammy, nothing clogs the ol’ arteries like some deep-fried white meat. Man, my doctor even said I should cut back…so I fired my doctor. And now we’re hanging out at Gdous Juicy Chicken House, this funky Taiwanese fried chicken joint just a stage dive away from Lee’s Palace at Bloor and Brunswick.

Now, I’ve had Taiwanese fried chicken before, and just like Hot Star, this place is known for its chicken steak. So well known, in fact, that it was all sold out at 7 o’clock. So I had to go for a three-piece meal instead. But am I complaining? No way, Jose!!!

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Now, this bird was super-crispy, deep-fried to perfection with a thick, crunchy batter…but still nice ‘n juicy on the inside. The fries had just about the same amount of breading, which made for a nice, heavy snack. I ordered mine “hot,” and while it really didn’t have much of a kick, that didn’t stop me from shoving it straight down my piehole, bro!!!

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Now, I know what you’re thinking…but no bro, this ain’t a frozen margarita, though! While they don’t put booze in a blender here, they do have a Tea Shop 168 right inside, and you can upgrade your combo to a bubble tea for just one dolla. That’s money well spent in Flavourtown!!!