Fast Food Confidential

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Killer chilaquiles from San Cosme

Now, I was pretty bummed out when Torteria San Cosme, a local Mexican sandwich institution in Kensington Market, shut down during the pandemic. But when I heard that they stopped, dropped and opened up a pop-up shop in the Entertainment District, I was all over that like salsa on a tortilla, hermana! And when I saw that they were serving up chilaquiles, a Guy Fieri favourite, you KNOW I had to get me some!!!

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These chilaquiles rojos were fuera del campo, bro! You’ve got tortilla chips covered in roasted chicken, topped with a tomato-chipotle salsa, crumbled cheese and two scoops of crema. Now, like any dish involving nachos, this didn’t hold up well to delivery — most of the chips were pretty soggy by the time they arrived at my piehole. But while the soggy chips were still tasty, the best bites were the ones that still had a bit of crunch to ’em.

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Of course, you can’t order from a Torteria and not get a torta, cabron! This here’s their torta de cochinita, with tangy pulled pork, refried beans and pickled onions on a well-toasted roll. The chilaquiles were a pretty decent-sized meal on their own…but throw in this killer sammy, and it’s a Flavourtown double down, bro!!!!!!!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Katsu sandos with black chicken wings…

Now, over in Tokyo, katsu sandos are everywhere — you can even get ’em at 7/11, son! But they’re not so popular in Toronto… Me, I’ve only ever had one, and that was a couple years ago. So when I heard that Tokyo Sando & Chicken was serving ’em up outta Kinka Izakaya on Church Street, I couldn’t have just one, so I ordered two. Oh, and some chicken wings, too. Hey, it’s right there in the name, so it’s gotta be good, right?

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This here’s the classic pork katsu sando, a big, thick piece of breaded pork served between two slices of plain white toast with cabbage, truffle butter and a Dijon donkey sauce. Dude, this sandwich eats like a meal…and that’s only half of it!

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But you KNOW I’m not gonna eat just one sando, bro! This here’s the ebi katsu, with deep-fried shrimp, more cabbage, some Japanese tartar sauce and teriyaki. The shrimp’s a little lighter than the pork, but you do get four to a sando, so I can’t really complain, though…

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But now we’re gonna kick it up a notch! These Kurogoma wings are smothered in a black sesame sauce for a flavour that’s just nuts, bro! Let’s just say I killed a few napkins downing these bad boys…

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TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Greek burger with Greek poutine

Before the pandemic, I’d sometimes head down to Alexandros on Queen’s Quay for some quick and easy Greek food. It was mostly a takeout spot, although they did have a small front patio that was right on the lake, which wasn’t a bad place to sit in the summertime. So when I found out they had another location downtown on Church Street, you know I had to check it out. Only, instead of ordering a Greek classic like gyros or souvlaki, I went with more of a mashup with this Greek burger and a side of Greek poutine.

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Now, the burger patty had the taste and texture of a frozen burger from like M&M Meat Shop, but then they added Greek toppings like tomatoes, onions, tzatziki and feta cheese, and served it all in a really big bun. I gotta say, the flavour combo works. I mean, it’s like having a gyro, but instead it’s a burger. So I can go for that…

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Now, I have had Greek fries before on the Danforth, and maybe somewhere else, like W Burger Bar or something. But Alexandros is kicking it up a notch with this Greek poutine. You’ve got fries, a classic poutine-style gravy… but with feta instead of cheese curds. Now this gravy was actually more authentic than a lot of the poutines I’ve had in Toronto, and the saltiness of the feta didn’t seem outta place, but the problem was with the fries. They either didn’t cook ’em long enough or hot enough, cuz they were soft, and not crispy. A nice, crispy fry couldda tied this thing together, but now they’re making me wish I ordered a Greek salad — and that’s a crying shame in Flavourtown, bro!!!!!

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TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: This smoked meat pizza is making me swear in French…

Now, we’re definitely no strangers to pizza on Triple B — whether it’s thin crust, Neapolitan or Detroit-style. Dude, I’ve had everything on pizza from duck breast to spam and pineapple, but when I saw that Church of Pizza, this funky joint inside Storm Crow Manor, was piling smoked meat, pickles and mustard onto pizza, I only had one word… Tabarnac!

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Now, this is definitely not your average pizza, bro. You’ve got a strong smell and taste from the mustard, and they put the pickles on before cooking — cooked pickle really has an atypical texture. But if you get a good bite of that smoked meat, a piece of pickle and just a little hit of moutarde, it’s actually quite tasty. There’s only one thing that could make this better…

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Molson Dry, bro! This Montreal special helps the medicine go down, son! The crisp, not-too-light taste is just the thing to help you house a whole pizza in the middle of a pandemic, and still live to fight another day. Porte-le au sexibus!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!

Dude, this is body by fried chicken, bro! You KNOW I like my chicken fried, cold beer on a Friday night, pair a jeans that fit just right, and the radio uuuuuuup, so when I heard that Flame & Smoke, this funky little food container down around Dundas and Bathurst, was serving up a Winner Winner Chicken Dinner — it even says so on the menu — I was all over that like Zac Brown on a beanie, bro!!!!

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Now, this chicken only comes one way, and that’s extra crispy. Both pieces were boneless, like they do at Uncle Ray’s or at Union Chicken, except this chicken is even more crunchalicious, bro!!!

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Now, this chicken dinner comes with coleslaw ‘n cornbread, but for a few dollars more, you can upgrade to a mac ‘n cheese bite, which is definitely the way to go. Super crunchy, creamy, with a marinara sauce on the side… I could slam, like, seven of these, son!!!

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Now, I easily couldda crushed twice as much chicken…but that just means I’ve still got room for dessert. And we’re talking deep-fried cheesecake, crunchy on the outside, with a soft ‘n chewy centre. I’m all over that like Kid Rock on a tube sock! The only thing that would make this meal better was if the food had been a little warmer when it got to me…but I guess it is, like, -10 outside, so, y’know, I get it.

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Japanese sandos on torched buns, bros!

Now, when it comes to sandos, this blog ain’t just about burgers. Whether we’re taking hot dogs, fried chicken or pulled pork, it’s all good in the hood, bro! So when I heard that Kinka Izakaya had started a spinoff serving up Japanese Aburi Bunz, you KNOW I had to check it out…

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They call this The OG Aburi, and it’s a gangster of love in Flavourtown. You’ve got a nice, beefy hot dog on a bed of cabbage in a torched bun, topped with bonito flakes, shredded seaweed and a garlic donkey sauce — I’d put that on a flip-flop!

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Up next, we’ve got The Fire Cracker, with four chunks of spicy chicken karaage on top of crunchy coleslaw that barely fit inside the bun, son! With a name like Fire Cracker, I was a little worried about the heat, but it’s more Buffalo chicken than Nashville Hot. Although the last couple bites had a bit more of a kick — I guess there was a little more sauce on that one piece…

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Of course, I WOULD like fries with that, but these ain’t yer everyday taters, bro. These Tokyo Wedges are topped with bonito flakes, seaweed, Japanese curry sauce and more donkey sauce. Like I always say, if there’s anything better than donkey sauce, it’s even more donkey sauce, broseph!!!!!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Double bacon burger with foie gras on top!

It was a sad day in Flavourtown when the Holy Chuck burger joint at Yonge and Wellesley, where I once took down a double-triple cheeseburger, announced it was shutting down on New Year’s Eve. And this wasn’t even due to COVID, but rather thanks to redevelopment, which probably means they’re putting up a fancy condo or something. At least the OG location at Yonge and St. Clair is still serving up some redonkulous burgers, fries and shakes…even if it takes a little longer to get them down my piehole.

So when I heard about this funky new culinary creation, topped with foie gras, maple bacon and truffle oil, you KNOW I had to make mine a double. Say hello to The Holy Duck, bro!!!

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Now, this burger is taking me straight down to Downtown Flavourtown, son! These aged beef patties taste more like steak, cooked medium with a little pink in the middle. You’ve got the richness of the foie gras, a nice little chew from the bacon, and the aroma of truffle oil oozing all over the place. 10 on 10 would eat again! I just wish they couldda made the bacon a little more crispy, like they do on their Bacon, Fudge & Sea Salt Milkshake…

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Now, the good thing about a milkshake delivery in January is you know it’s not gonna melt, bro! This creamy McDreamy had nice little pieces of fudge, and was topped with perfectly crispy bacon. If I was more thoughtful and less hungry, I wouldda broken down the bacon into little bits before going at ‘er…but even still, that ice-cream-dipped bacon was sooo outta bounds!!!

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Now, this order took almost an hour to get here — and it was over 30 minutes in transit, since Uber sent the driver to finish another delivery that was several blocks out of the way. And if there’s one thing that suffered as a result, it was the Italian white truffle fries, which were a slightly soggy glob of potatoes by the time I got ’em. They still tasted pretty good, what with the truffle oil, truffle mayo and the Greek kefalotyri cheese…but the extra time left sitting out definitely did ’em no favours.

Of course, I probably wouldn’t have this problem if I could still order from Yonge & Wellesley, which is much closer to home…but I’m sure the developer will use that space to create some much-needed affordable housing for residents of the area. Yeah, when monkeys fly outta my butt, bro!!! 😆 😆 😆

 

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Take a bao (or three), bro!

Now, I once put an entire Peking Duck between steamed buns, son, so when I heard about Mean Bao, this funky little chain serving up steamed buns all over this city, you KNOW I had to check it out! They might not have duck, but they’ve got two kinds of chicken, three kinds of pork…and unfortunately the one I ordered from was all outta beef, but they do have it on the menu, too.

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We’re starting off with the classic pork belly bao. This bad Momofuku in Flavourtown is super unctuous, with a nice kick from the hoisin, a coupla cucumbers and the bun just melts in your mouth. Eat your heart out, David Chang!!!

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Now it doesn’t get much more Toronto than this — jerk chicken inside a Chinese bun, son! The pulled chicken has a decent kick, but not too spicy, and there’s a whole pile of cool, creamy coleslaw on top. We be jammin’ this straight down de piehole, mon!!!

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And now we’re about to funk it up another notch. This Sloppy Jones bao is sorta like a Sloppy Joe, except with ground pork instead of beef. And it sure lives up to its name! While the other two baos stayed together, this one had stuff falling out all over the place — the bun even broke across the bottom, making it sloppy AF. But you know what I say, if it ain’t messy, it ain’t tasty, bro!!!!!!!

 

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Double pierogi burger with a side of pierogi poutine!

Now, I’ve had some funky pierogis in my day, but when I heard that Burgers n’ Fries Forever, this cool little joint on John St, was serving up a pierogi burger AND pierogi poutine — for a limited time only — you KNOW I was all over that like cheese in potato, bro! And when it comes to the burger, you know I gotta make mine a double…

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Now, there ain’t actually any pierogis on this burger — instead, it’s more of a deconstructed pierogi, with mashed potatoes, onions, cheddar cheese and a whole helluva lotta sour cream. Like half the sour cream ended up on my hand, bro! I also paid a couple bucks extra to add beef bacon (the only kind of bacon they had) cuz the First Rule of Flavourtown is Always Add Bacon!

Now, meat and potatoes is a classic combo, so there’s nothing wrong with that at all, but I think if this burger had more mash, and less sour cream, it would make for a better pierogi-eating experience.

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Speaking of pierogi-eating, this pierogi poutine really kicks it up a notch! They replace the fries with these little mini cheese pierogis, which are melt-in-your-mouth goodness. And then they add gravy, cheddar cheese, beef bacon, green onions and a whole boatload of sour cream. Again, the flavour distribution could maybe be a bit better (maybe things got moved around in the delivery process), but when you get a bite with that pierogi, some cheese, bacon and just a bit of sour cream, that is the real deal, right there!!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Filipino fried chicken from Jollibee

When Jollibee first opened in Scarborough and Mississauaga, I heard people waited in line for, like, three hours, bro. But since the downtown Toronto location opened just a couple weeks ago, right in the middle of Second Lockdown, I could just walk right in and order right away…

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While they do have some other stuff on the menu, this place is known for fried chicken, so we gotta start there. I got a three-piece meal with fries, and one of the pieces was spicy, just to try it. Nice, crunchy breading while the chicken was hot ‘n juicy. The spicy piece had a bit of a kick, with all the seasoning salt on the skin, so I had to take a few sips of their signature pineapple juice…

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Hey, it’s probably healthier than soda pop, right?

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Now, they didn’t have the Amazing Aloha Yumburger, topped with pineapple and bacon, at this location, so I had to settle for a regular Yumburger with Cheese. And it was pretty basic — beef, cheese, and a whole lotta mayo. The patty tasted like a Salisbury steak, so I’m guessing that if you order the burger steak with gravy, it’s probably the same thing. I shouldda known not to order a burger at a fried chicken joint, anyways…

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Of course, you KNOW I’ve still got room for dessert, bro, and that means it’s peach mango pie time. This soft, breaded treat was still warm after I scarfed down everything else, and the super-sweet filling was super tasty! Man, I’d eat this over McDonald’s any day!!!

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