Toronto Zoo

Location: 2000 Meadowvale Rd, Toronto, ON M1B 5K7


Price: $4

What We Ordered:

  • Veggie Burger
My sister Laura and me at the Toronto Zoo in July. We also had my two kids, my niece, my brother and his girl friend.

Burger Review:

This veggie burger comes from the Caribu TZ Cafe. It was bad. Like Biblical bad. The lettuce was so nasty that I had to pick it off to finish eating it. I only did eat it all because we had walked for 2 hours with another hour to go and I needed sustenance to keep up with 2 kids who were about to have a melt down lest I have one first.  Nothing about this burger worked. The bun was all wrong, the toppings were sad, their was only ketchup as a condiment, and the patty was uninspired. But what did I expect from a food trough at the zoo? 

This veggie burger looks drained of all colour and life. I didn’t even de-saturate the photo or anything. It came looking this sad and awful. 

Meat: Veggie patty which tasted a lot like the Yves patties you can get in the supermarket. I’m pretty sure it’s a tofu-based patty. 

Toppings: This burger comes with shaved lettuce and one sad slice of tomato. The lettuce had an awful taste like it had been in the fridge for too long. I ended up taking off all the lettuce. They had packs of ketchup that I also added on. 

Bun: Kaiser bun was too big for the burger and would have tasted better paired with a turkey swiss sandwich

Cross section of the veggie burger at the Toronto Zoo Cafe. I did not have a knife so this is a bite cross section.

Other Food:

Nothing else comes with this glorious bad boy. 

How the food arrived. The wrapping was too small for the burger I guess? And they only had ketchup as a condiment option.

Atmosphere & Staff:

It is line-up cafeteria style in a zoo with fluorescent lighting, lots of tourists, and noisy chatter. It’s as glamorous and uncomfortable as you’re probably picturing it right now.   

Final Verdict:
1 star

Don’t bother getting this. But do go to the zoo. It’s a lovely place that supports animal research and rehabilitation. 

Hogtown Smoke

Location: 1959 Queen St. E. Toronto, ON, M4L 1H7


Price: $71

Outside Hogtown Smoke on Queen Street in the Beach, Toronto

What We Ordered:

  • Smashed griddle burger
  • Signature smoked brisket
  • Chicken wings
  • Kitchen sink stacked fries

Burger Review:

The Hogtown Smoke burger is Angus beef, ground and hand made on site. It came with two patties on a brioche bun with red onions, rocket greens, and fresh cut fries on the side. On the menu it says the toppings are “hot house tomatoes, charred red onions, and rocket greens”, but I didn’t receive any tomatoes and the red onions were not charred at all (you can see in the picture below how it arrived). The menu has lots of toppings you can add, but at extremely high prices. The blue cheese was an extra $5. I love blue cheese, but I don’t $5 extra love blue cheese. I would have liked to see the burger cost a bit less (was $18 as-is), which would make me more willing to stack on some toppings to liven this burger up. I also would have liked a one-patty option since I’m more of a one-patty gal. I didn’t even notice on the menu that it was two patties.

This is how the Hogtown Smoke burger came to the table

Meat: It came with two Angus beef burger patties ground on site and never frozen, but they were far too dry (maybe a bit overcooked or not enough fat content). I added sauces to liven it up and add some moisture back in. I used the Hogmother BBQ sauce, ketchup, and the wings came with a spicy aioli that I used instead of mayo.

Toppings: The rocket greens were a good choice for this burger. The red onions were cut in rings had that sharp taste red onions can get sometimes. They would have been better if they were softened up on the grill before hand or more thinly cut.

Bun: The brioche bun was very nice but it couldn’t save this burger.

Sides: Fresh cut french fries were perfectly golden, crispy, and salted just right.

Cross section of the Hogtown Smoke burger on Queen Street in Toronto, after I added aioli, ketchup, and BBQ sauce

I wanted to love this burger, but it was underwhelming and I would not recommend it. It desperately needed a little less cook time, tomatoes to cut some of the dryness, and a pickle or some sort of sauce to give it an edge and add some juiciness to it. It also should have been cheaper (maybe just one patty to save costs), so the extra toppings to give it more flavor would be more affordable.

Other Food:

The kitchen sink stacked fries were to die for. Literally you’d probably die of a heart attack if you indulge in these babies too often. But figuratively speaking, they were delicious! It included beans, pulled pork, cheese, sour cream, BBQ sauce, and coleslaw. It says that it feeds two people but we barely made a dent in it (2 adults and 2 kids under 5).

Clockwise from upper left corner: brisket, wings, kitchen sink fries, sauces at the table

I did not try the wings but they looked plump. I did have some of the brisket and I found it to be good, but a bit dry compared to other BBQ joints and the smoky flavor didn’t penetrate all the way through the meat. There wasn’t a lot of fat on it, which might be why it wasn’t very juicy. However the sauces provided at the table made it less dry and added some zing to the flavor.

The BBQ sauces were at each table. The black & blue was mild, a little smokey and sweet. The Hogmother was mild with a little bit of a peppery kick. The Hogfather was a bit spicier than Hogmother, but not burn your mouth spicy.

Atmosphere & Staff:

Our waiter was great. He seemed nice and genuinely happy to be there and serving us. It was construction season in Toronto so there was banging and drilling in the building next door which could be heard through the walls. We had screaming kids with us at the time (our two year old was acting up), but no one gave us side-eye or made us feel unwelcome. There was nice street-style art on the walls with a chalkboard menu on one side and exposed brick and wood panels all around. There were bench style booths on one side and chair seating on the other (pictured below). There is a patio out back with high-top tables and a bar.

Inside Hogtown Smoke

Final Verdict:
1 Star

Please note the rating is JUST for the burger, and not a reflection on the restaurant as a whole. Come for the slow cooked meat and kitchen sink fries, but don’t order the burger. This place has delicious meats and other food items to sample that are much tastier.