The Great Burger Brouhaha


T.O. is obsessed with burgers. Just walk around your ’hood and see how many burger bars you encounter. See?

Still, the question remains: who makes the best burger in town? We grilled old-school fave Burger Shack’s Joe Batshon and Burger’s Priest’s chuck-master Shant Mardirosian (opening a new Yonge & Lawrence location soon) and asked them all the meaty questions.


The Legendary Shack VS. The Rookie Priest

Joe Bashton, 1981 Owner & year opened Shant Mardirosian, 2010
I came here to Canada from Israel in 1980. My sister and my brother bought the business. I loved it. I stayed with it. I like what I’m doing. I like to cook from my soul! Tell us: why did you decide to get into the burger biz? One night, me and my buddy decided to get something to eat. We said we couldn’t get a good burger here — but we could get one in New York. So we hopped in the car and went to New York. I decided to bring [good burgers] to Toronto.
I used to fix cars in a garage. Previous ventures? This is my first business. I was a waiter and a seminary student before.
The spices we put in. Everyone loves them. But we can’t tell you what the spices are. I also grind my meat three times. Some people do it once or twice. So what’s the secret to making a great burger? It starts with the beef, the quality of it, how it’s handled. The freshness is important. You can do it charbroiled or flat-top; I prefer flat-top.
We get it from a small butcher on the Danforth. Where do you source your beef? We don’t discuss anything about the beef.
No relish. Any burger no-nos? No relish.
One lady asked me for five Banquet Burgers: each with three patties, three slices of cheese and nine slices of bacon. Most burgers you’ve seen consumed? One guy had five doubles. So that’s 40 ounces of meat.
Actually, it’s our Banquet Burger: With cheese and bacon. Your most popular burger? The Vatican City: A double — but the buns are grilled cheese sandwiches.


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