It may have started off life as an indie burger spot in 2010, but 10 years later, Toronto fast-food favourite The Burger’s Priest is in major expansion mode with close to two-dozen restaurants in the Big Smoke and southwestern Ontario.
Now, the burger joint with the biblical name and menu is bravely launching its first two Ottawa locations in 2020. The first location at Baseline and Clyde (1365 Baseline Rd.) opened this week (the second location, at Bank and Heron, is scheduled to open its doors later this year).
So what’s the buzz all about — The Burger’s Priest spins a great story and backs it up with a fine-tasting burger.
The Creation Story
The story begins with burger evangelist Shant Mardirosian, a seminary graduate who instead found his calling in the fast-food biz. His motto? Keep it simple. Old-fashioned burgers made with freshly ground beef and topped with classic condiments and extras (think perfectly melted cheddar and sautéed onions, not brie or pine nuts).
Burger fans quickly flocked to the first tiny storefront on Queen Street, ordering up the burgers with such tongue-in-cheek names as the High Priest (a bigger, better version of a Big Mac), the Holy Smokes (a double cheeseburger topped with deep-fried jalapenos), and the Vatican City (a double cheeseburger smashed between two a grilled cheese bun).
The Secret Menu
The Burger’s Priest cemented its cult status early, developing a “secret menu” — customized burgers designed by regulars, who mixed and matched based on what was on the menu. Some of the original “secret menu” items that proved especially popular have made it onto the regular menu.
The so-called “secret menu” is now not-so-secret, with a dozen items spelled out on the website. A couple of examples: The Double Red Sea (a cheeseburger topped with chilli) and The Pope (a panko-crusted, cheese-stuffed Portobello cap sandwiched between two cheese-covered patties and a plain bun).
The secret menu apparently gets updated every couple of years as customers request new burger and fry configurations that become cult favourites.
California Classic: Cheeseburger, secret sauce, and sautéed onions sandwiched between buttered buns.
Fiery furnace: Bacon cheeseburger, crushed hot peppers, non-sesame seed bun
The Priest: Cheeseburger with a breaded, cheese-stuffed Portobello mushroom cap on a non-sesame bun
The Heavvy: Premium beef patty, bacon, panko-crusted deep=fried jalapenos, American cheddar, secret sauce, non-sesame bun
The Token: Buffalo fried chicken, blue cheese, non-sesame bun
Sides include chilli cheese fries; chilli bowl; and poutine. Old-fashioned milkshakes and ice cream sodas add a sweet component.
Address: 1357 Baseline Rd. (Baseline at Clyde)
Hours: Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Hot Tip: For first timers looking for a classic experience, the top-selling burgers are the bacon double cheeseburger, the High Priest, and the Vatican.
Hot Tip #2: For mustard lovers, the Jarge-style burger sees the patty coated with yellow mustard, which then cooks into the meat.