Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – Big Buns


Well judging by the reaction on Facebook a lot of you were nostalgic for Toronto bars from the seventies. Let’s see how you feel about hamburgers and fries.


When I was a teen in the seventies fast food had a very different face. There was a McDonald’s on Eglinton in Scarborough but it sure wasn’t a destination. We a-and-w-by-stagg-on-rosemarie-lanewere more likely to hit a Red Barn or a Harveys. A big treat was when someone had a car and we would head to the old school drive-in A&W at Victoria Park and Danforth and then see who could steal a glass root beer mug. Serious juvenile delinquents would soon have the entire set. Although this has nothing to do with rock’n’roll (with the exception of The Dictator’s lyrics which I mis-quoted and the sly Aerosmith lyrical reference in the title) here is a story I wrote for the November 1978 issue of The New Music. I wish a few more of these places still existed.

Lordy It Was Luv At First Bite – Where to find the best hamburger and French fries in Toronto – New Music Magazine – November 1978”


The editor came up with another brainchild. Find the best hamburger and french fries (both in the same place) in Toronto (without endangering the life of the writer!)

My expertise (you may remember that I had previously eaten cheeseburgers in Hamilton) and my natural endowments (a scrawny physique and miraculous immunity to acne) made me the obvious choice for the job.Great.

burger and fries

– Michael’s Steak and Burger – 2326 Queen Street East

I’m a Beacher, so it was natural that I would start my quest for the “Holy Burg” on home turf. As an avid pinballer, I made my first stop at Michael’s. I’ve been coming here for years and the burgers have always been above average, but the fries should be avoided. With the pin-ball we’ll give it a solid B. Oh, by the way, dsc_00111the prices are the lowest I know of.

B- Garden Gate Restaurant (The Goof) – 2379 Queen Street East

Hoofin’ it down the street a few blocks we run into the Garden Gate Restaurant. The burgers are thin but O.K.and the fries are the ever-so-much-fun crinkle cuts. Not bad, but not worth driving across the city for.

T&P Burger – 2213 Queen Street East

A little further down the yellow brick road we find T&P Burger. Tony and Peter cook up mean burgers and the fries are always welcomed.

Palm Restaurant – 1959 Queen Street East

Even further down this `Boulevard of Burgers` we find the new and rather chic Palm Restaurant. All of a sudden my dollar doesn`t do me any good. The burgers are big – the fries are O.K. and you get the added attraction of coleslaw. The prices make it nice for a date but not if you`re on an allowance.

JumboKennedy Jumbo-Burger – 1286 Kennedy Road

One day my feet found themselves in front of Kennedy JUmbo-Burger, so I wandered in. Hate to say it but the place suffers from the we-bury-the-burger-in-the-bun syndrome. Scarborough deserves better. C for the chippers.

My cast-iron tummy was now ready for phase two, or so I thought – hitting the Yonge Street strip. Most of the places aren`t even worth mentioning and some of them should be avoided at all costs. Do you know what it feels like when the cook recalls a burger and fries after you`ve eaten them? Get the picture?

B- Mr. Green Jeans Emporium and Restaurant – 120 Adelaide Street East

mr-greenjeansTwo weeks later, I headed back down (a little wiser, now) and decided to taste at only the better-known places. First stop was Mr. Green Jeans. The burgers are really big but the “Buffalo Chips” taste like wet potato chips. And be warned, the surrounding jungle makes eating salads uncomfortable for all but the most thick-skinned of herbivores! One extra bonus, it’s licensed.

B+ Toby’s Good Eats – 91 Bloor Street West

Well the burgs sure are big here, and the fries are a cut above average, but the flying food circusprices and line-ups can be a bit of a pain.

B+ The Flying Food Circus – 30 Cumberland Street

Once again the burgers and fries were good and with the lower prices and liquor license, this is a safe downtown bet.

Peter Pan Restaurant – 373 Queen Street West

peter panThe next place I wandered down to was the Peter Pan Restaurant. Well this place was out of the running when I found out that fries weren’t served. But since I was there I decided to delve into a burg. The burger was great but to get to it you had to eat your way through the two huge slices of bread they called a bun. Give it a B for thebrewsky and the beef.

A+ P&S Burgers – 408 Sheppard Avenue East

My quest was coming to an end and I still hadn’t found the “Holy Burg”. Almost everyone I had approached told me that I must head up to P&S. I called Suzy, my driver, and we started the long trek north. After many wrong turns and almost getting thrown out for taking too many napkins, I sank my teeth into the best burger and fries of my journey.

A++ The Gasworks – 585 Yonge Street

GasworksWell, somewhat satisfied but still sure that a better burger could be found, I walked into The Gasworks for a quick beer. When I sat down I noticed the aroma of a burger. I had nothing to lose so I headed to the counter and ordered the usual. Five minutes later a huge, home-cooked burger on a toaster kaiser arrived. Also on this beautiful plate were huge, golden brown fries and coleslaw. My quest was over! I had found the “Holy Burg”! The Gasworks was the hands-down winner.

Of course this whole search was done in a light-hearted way and the opinions expressed only reflect my tastes and are not meant to discourage you from frequenting any of the establishments mentioned, After all, each to his own burger!

This whole assignment reminds me of a verse of a song by “The Dictators“:

dictators‘My favorite part of growin’ up

Is getting sick and throwin’ up.

But it’s the price you gotta pay

For eating ‘burgers everyday.’

Bon Appetite.”



Come request “Master Race Rock” by The Dictators one Wednesday night at The Kensington Lodge.

Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59

Contact us at:

DBAWIS ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener, The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, and New Canadian Music.

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