Salad Schmalad

So trying to be fitter doesn’t mean it’s’ salad 24/7. I will admit that my food choices have been more fresh stuff and less processed… meaning fewer things that come in a box and more things that used to grow.  I like to think that I’m merely moving the 80/20 rule in the other direction. Now that doesn’t mean I turn my nose up at fast food or burgers. I have several fast food and junk food vices… burgers, onion rings, fries, chips, wings… generally anything associated with Sunday afternoon football viewing.  Everything is better deep fried and battered.

I also watch Food Network a lot… might be where I spend the majority of my TV viewing time. Shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, The Best Thing I Ever Ate and You Gotta Eat Here are not to be missed… where the art form, that is diner food has been elevated. Overall it’s a nice counterpoint to shows focusing on places like The French Laundry, Alinea or Per Se. Now I’m not knocking those places… known meccas of the culinary world (least North America)…. I’m just saying that I could likely get the same rush from an out of the way rib joint in the middle of nowhere.

This brings me to my short list of my go-tos when I absolutely need quell a food fix.

Burgers: The Burger’s Priest

Insanely good. I very close to home and I started going here last summer as a bit of a tradition with my eldest son after soccer. It’s a tiny place and it serves up American West Coast style hamburgers… cooked on a flattop. Theirs is a secret menu, not unlike In-N-Out and if you don’t know what’s on the secret menu, they won’t tell you. My son has had debates with his fellow Grade 2s around which burgers in Toronto reign supreme… is it a bad thing that he mocks the McDonald’s lovers or is it a refined palate? If I gotta do fast food burgers… then it’s got to be A&W. Double Teen Burger.

Wings: Duff’s

I’ve tried wings all over the place in Toronto. Baked, Fried, Naked, Sauced (last two refer to the wings… not me). No one gets is as right as Duff’s. I ordered several pounds a few years back for the Superbowl and brought them home… they were outstanding… huge wings, lots of meat , perfect amount of sauce. I wish they were closer. The only places that comes a close second are the Real Sports Bar (by the Air Canada Center) and Buffalo Wild Wings in the US.

Indian Food: Indian Rice Factory

First place I ever tried Indian Food in Toronto… and still reigning champ in my book. Lucky for me, there is a place down the street that I can easily walk to that also serves up some great Indian Food. It’s called the Delhi Bistro and it’s pretty convenient.

Pizza: Queen Margherita Pizza

Real Napoletana Pizza. I’ve heard Pizza Libretto is amazing… but since I live on the East side of Toronto… I’ll go with what’s accessible to me… it’s my fix and travel time plays a part. Terroni has three locations in Toronto and I’ve been to two of them. Also great pizza and great Italian food overall.

Fried Chicken: The Stockyards

I went here based on the feedback by folks on my old team (who were also nearly as food obsessed as me). I went with the family one night and it lived up to the hype. What a difference when people focus on the product and the process. If I’m forced to do a chain… then I take Mary Brown’s over KFC or Popeye’s.

BBQ: Barque Smokehouse

BBQ has had a slight resurgence in Toronto with established joints and new spaces opening up. I’ve been to Barque’s three times… twice for lunch with the guys from work and once with my wife for brunch on the weekend. I gotta  get here with the family for dinner. I’ve not had anything I didn’t like. Everything that I’ve seen go by to other tables looks mouthwatering. I ripped off their salad and make it at home (simple arugula + Parmesan + lemon juice + olive oil + salt + pepper). Just thinking about this place makes my mouth water.

Sandwich: Tie – My Club Sandwich and California Sandwiches Veal Sandwich

I’m a sucker for a good Club Sandwich. I make them myself. I learned the trade working in the kitchen at St. Hubert’s in Moncton and Fredericton. I must have made no less than 1000 of these things in my time there. I make them today… stay with the classic, no substitutions, nothing weird. Bread, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo, chicken or turkey and maybe cheese. No pesto, no weird buns, no pancetta. Don’t mess with perfection.

For the longest time, the lunch crew I hang with has been going to this place called California Sandwiches… no idea where they got the name but this place is HQ for great Italian Sandwiches. A breaded veal sandwich and a drink… that’s it… no sides… because you won’t have the room. You will have some options, like the ability to add on slices of cheese, how hot you want the sandwich and a few other things. Pick two toppings… anymore and the (very tasty) bun disintegrates. I always wondered about their napkin budget.

There you have it. Budget friendly go-tos. The length of the post is consistent with how much I like talking about food. By the way… the word Moncton tripped the spell-checker and I’m a little offended. I think one of the the best cities in the country deserves better.

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