Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Best Burritos #1: Burrito Boyz

Blogto ranks Burrito Boyz #1 when it comes to the best burrito in Toronto. This also marks my first #1 review in my short blogging life. Now I work five minutes away from this place but never went before. After bringing it up in the PPP CC (come join in the fun if you're not already there) Furcifer and Blindfolded Tank Driver convinced me to check it out. Needless to say, my expectations going in were high. Let's see if they lived up to the hype.

Location: 2.5/5

Burrito Boyz is located at 218 Adelaide St. W which is right off Simcoe. It's downtown Toronto so the location isn't terrible but it's sort of hidden. I don't recall any big flashy signs or anything but it is right under Smoke's Poutinerie. You can't miss it because the line up will be past the door!

This brings us to the score. Now any establishment situated within walking distance of a subway station will usually be at least a 4. The reason why I scored Burrito Boyz low is due to the set up (or lack of) in the restaurant. I went around 1:00 PM which is a bit later than the standard lunch time yet the line was huge. The restaurant itself isn't too big so the line literally went to the door, which is also where the garbage is conveniently placed so people would cut into the line to throw away their trash. After about ten minutes, I finally got to the cashier and ordered my large steak burrito with a Coke. I was given a number and was told to wait on the right.

Well, the right is pretty much a mosh pit. It's a standing area with no lines and you just wait for your number to be called. It took about another 20 minutes for them to call my number. I don't know if line ups would help cut down the waiting time but it would certainly be more orderly. Once they do call your number, you would then give them your receipt, order what you want on your burrito and go back to the mosh pit to wait for them to make it. This roughly took another 10 minutes so in total, it took us 40 minutes to just get our food! Only after did we find out we could order in to pick it up. Fuck.

Taste: 5/5

The line up might have been long but fuck, it was totally worth it. I was in burrito heaven. I got a large steak burrito (you can choose from vegetarian, halibut, shrimp, chicken and steak) with a whole wheat tortillia with everything in it. Now what's everything, you ask? I'll gladly tell. Everything includes a mild salsa, guacomole, jalapeno peppers, green peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, green onion, shredded cheese, Mexican style rice and refried pinto beans. On top of that, there are three sauces: their special burrito sauce, sour cream and a hot sauce. Once all that is wrapped up with the steak, they grill the burrito on both sides.

Now this isn't the first time I've had a burrito from a burrito joint so I figured I knew what to expect upon ordering it. My problem with burritos I've had in the past is that the cilantro is often overpowering. This isn't a problem with the steak burrito I just ordered though! My mouth just had an orgasm. The guacamole is fresh, the rice ratio is perfect, the cheese is melted and the steak is seasoned to perfection. The only problem with my burrito is that it was fuckin spicier than all the curry in India. Now I can usually handle my spice so I'm surprised that eating this was making me sweat bullets. I've downed suicide wings without even thinking twice before (of course I was drunk as shit and probably ignored the burning sensation) so what's up with the pussification of my tongue all of a sudden? I did manage to finish it but it was a struggle.

Value: 4/5

A large burrito with a coke was roughly $8.50 or so. While that might seem expensive at first glance, this thing was massive. It must have weighed over a pound and can easily be doubled for a weapon in case a hungry homeless guy tries to mug you. Though it's not the cheapest thing you can get downtown, it's very fulfilling in both quality and quantity!

Verdict: 4.5 Luchadores out of 5

Burrito Boyz is some good eatin! They also make quesadillas there, but I'm just going to stick with the burritos. The only thing stopping this from a perfect 5 would be the wait times but since I know that they do pick ups now, I'll be sure to call in to avoid spending my whole lunch hour waiting for my meal. While my first taste seemed extra spicy, I'm almost positive it wasn't meant to set my tongue on fire. There really is only one way to find out and that's to make another trip back. I'll gladly do that...after I call in to place my order.

The Best Chicken Wings #5: All Star Wings & Ribs

L-R: Wings Gone Wild - My Ranch is on Fire

Another one for the best of series. This time I'm doing wings. Coming in at #5 on the blogto list of best Wings in Toronto is All Star Wings & Ribs. I didn't know the
"& Ribs" were a part of their name since I don't know anybody who has ever had their ribs before but I digress...

Location: 2/5

I believe there are two locations, neither of them are in Toronto. The one I went to is the one in Markham (the only other one I'm aware of is in Richmond Hill). It is located in a plaza at the corner of 16th Ave and Woodbine. Needless to say, you can't get here by TTC. You can probably take the YRT (York Region Transit) or VIVA but since you would probably have to camp out for a bus, I wouldn't bother making the trip unless you have a car. If you do have a car though, their wings are definitely worth the drive.

Taste: Could be anywhere from a 1/5 to a 5/5

Don't get me wrong, All Star has fabulous wings. They're lightly breaded, covered in sauce yet remaining crunchy and very flavourful. The problem is that they have over 150,000 flavours to choose from. That may be an exagerration but they easily have over 100 flavours, most of which have a vague names like American Eruption, Tsunami, Pucker Up Baby and Killer Bee. This wouldn't be a problem if there were little descriptions about each flavour but there isn't. It's just one long list categorized by how spicy they are (their classification system goes from Pacifiers to Baseballs to Flaming Stars to Fire Alarms to Mushroom Clouds and finally to a Radioactive Material Logo). Sure, you could stop a waitress and ask them but this place gets PACKED on Friday and Saturday nights so the waitresses seem rude and rushed. With the help of some friends though, I have compiled a list of some of the flavours we have tried and a little description of it to help you out.

Aaron: Snakebite - A bit tangy and not too spicy (Categorized under 3 Flaming Stars on the menu)

My Ranch is on Fire - Too much ranch. It was disgusting and it made me throw up (Yes Aaron, we're sure it was the wings and not the alcohol lol but I'll take your word for it. 4 Flaming Stars)

Aileen (Note: Aileen and Aaron are fraternal twins): My Ranch is on Fire - Her favourite flavour. Creamy ranch with a little tangy hot sauce with freshly ground black pepper. (I haven't seen a set of twins go in such opposite directions since Victoria Beckham got her boob job. Bada-Bing)

Sweet Tooth Rancher - Creamy and sweet but thick in the mouth (That's what she said. 1 Pacifier)

Nero's Epilogue - Like my ranch is on fire but instead of black pepper, they top it with parmesan cheese. (4 Flaming Stars)

Cheesy Where's The Beef? = Poutine - Fries + Wings. That's basically what it is but instead of using cheese curds, they use shredded cheddar (1 Pacifier)

Christine: Honey Garlic - Standard honey garlic (1 Pacifier)

Honey BBQ - Didn't like it. It was too sweet and there wasn't enough barbeque taste (1 Pacifier)

Shirley: Wings Gone Wild - This flavour is the BEST. Not spicy has a honey mustard taste.

Teresa: Sicillian - Breaded, dry and slightly spicy. (No rating because it's on the dry style side of the menu)

Victoria: Hot Hawaiian Honey - Tangy, Sweet and Hot (3 Flaming Stars)

Myself: Fourplay - This is disgusting. It was spicy and it is a blend of four different sauces (I have no idea which four) The sauces might be great alone but they come together to form the taste of ass (4 Flaming Stars)

Wings Gone Wild - My favourite flavour. It definitely has a honey mustard taste to it. A bit sweet. A bit of kick would make it even better (3 Flaming Stars)

Nero's Epilogue - I didn't think this tasted like My Ranch is on Fire. It wasn't all that flavourful. It was topped with parmesan though. (4 Flaming Stars)

There are still over 100 flavours left to be tried but I'm simply not adventurous to go for them after experiencing the disaster known as Fourplay. If you have tried any flavours that we missed out on, I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment with your review!

Value: 3/5

Okay so wings are expensive anywhere you go (I don't know why, it's just chicken wings and sauce) so I doubt we will ever see a 5/5 on value. I got a double order (20 wings) and a coke and it was around $20-22 after tax and tip. I guess it could be worse but that's at least a dollar a wing...

Verdict: 3.5 Peters in your Mouth out of 5

Peters, Buffalo, Wings, get it? Nevermind...

The location is a bit lousy and the price definitely isn't for the budget-minded but the awesome wings (once you find your flavour) certainly makes up for it. However, I find that they're outdoing themselves by listing so many flavours on their menu without a description. While some flavours are certainly worth its weight in gold, the fact that picking a new flavour is such a crapshoot kind of sucks. Who doesn't want to try a Kama Sutra or a Pandora's Box?

The Best Poutine #2: The Blue Chip Truck

Another blog entry for the foodies out there. This is the first entry in the "Best Poutine in Toronto" List. There are twelve in total on blogto. Hopefully I can get through them without having to go for triple bypass surgery. Well, coming in at #2, we have the famous Blue Truck outside Nathan Phillips Square.

Location: 4.5/5

You will find the blue chip truck stationed outside Nathan Phillips Square which is right by Queen and Bay. It's only a couple of minutes from the Queen street end of the Eaton Centre so you won't have trouble getting there by TTC. I didn't give it a 5 out of 5 because there are TWO blue trucks to buy food from! You will know you went to the right one if you see a scrolling display on the top of the truck. The correct one also says Slush-Pop-Water on the front of it. I believe the other one is called Mr. Tasty. Since you're buying food from a truck, it's pretty much to go. You should be able to find seats on the benches outside Nathan Phillips Square (if they're not occupied by sleeping homeless people) but on nice days, it's tough to get a seat in the shade as it just gets too crowded. You may have to eat standing up or sitting on the hot edge of the wading pool. Entertainment won't be a problem though. You're guaranteed to catch a lot of cleavage and skimpy skirts in the summer time and if you're lucky you will catch a total act of randomness. When I was there, I saw two protests going on. One involving the City of Toronto workers and another involving student workers telling CUPE to work things out and get back to work. I also saw a homeless guy running across the wading pool as he was getting chased by security guards. Good times!

Taste: 5/5

Let's face it, one of the many benefits of being Canadian is the ability to get a poutine at almost any hour. Having tried poutines from many different outlets, my critique on poutines have become pretty strict. Even then, blue chip truck simply blows many of them out of the water. Let's break down these three simple ingredients.

Fries - The fries from the blue chip truck as freshly cut and always hot. They don't serve their fries from under a heat lamp; they come straight out of the hot oil and are salted nicely. Their fries have some size so they won't get all soggy and limp when covered in gravy. They are already excellent alone but even better with cheese and gravy!

Gravy - Now the last time I had a poutine prior to this was at Smoke's Poutinerie. My main complaint about their gravy was that it was too bland! Well, this isn't a problem at the blue truck. The gravy is packed with flavour and they really load it onto your fries. And as I said earlier, the gravy has a nice thick texture so you're not left with a soup when you get to the bottom.

Cheese Curds - This is usually the deal breaker for me; this is what separates a good poutine from a bad one. I can't believe some places don't even use cheese curds in their poutine (automatic fail!) rather, they use shredded cheese. Well, the blue truck uses fresh chunks of cheese curds! They're slightly salty and squeek between your teeth when you chew them. They give you a decent amount too.

Value: 3.5/5

A medium poutine and a can of coke was $6.25 ($5 for the poutine, $1.25 for the coke). I wouldn't exactly call that a great deal but it is filling and any time you can get lunch for under $7 in downtown Toronto should be considered a good price.

Verdict: 5 Flailing Habs out of 5

Now when you think of getting good food, very rarely do you picture getting it out of a truck, however the poutine from the blue chip truck has got to be one of the best I've had. It just shows that there's nothing wrong with simplicity.

The Best Pizza Slice #6: The Big Slice

My first entry is from the "best pizza slice in Toronto" list. Coming in at #6, The Big Slice!

Location: 4/5

This pizza shop is located on the east side on Yonge, right before Gerrard (going north). It's roughly a 4 minute walk from both Dundas and College subway stations. While the location is convenient, you do have to pass by a couple of strip clubs and porn shops to get to it which is why I would have to give it a 4. Otherwise, it pretty much is in the heart of downtown Toronto. You really can't miss it because you will remember that uncomfortable feeling as you are praying that you don't get robbed as you are passing by the hoodlums hanging outside of the covenant house that's right next to it.

Taste: 4/5

Now I'm a firm believer that there's no such thing as a bad pizza. Sure, there are better and worse tasting pies, but I can't say I've ever had a bad pizza...except once and that was the very first time I've ever been to The Big Slice. I remember the pizza being cold like it's been sitting there all day and just not very good in general.

This is my second time going to The Big Slice, and to be honest, if it wasn't on the list, I would probably never go to this place again. I'm glad I did because the pizza was pretty good. I got the Canadian slice (pepperoni, bacon, mushrooms) and this thing was huge. The picture definitely doesn't do it any justice. I proceeded to top my pizza with dry chili peppers, hot sauce and bbq sauce. I wasn't sure how to tackle it. My co-worker went the fork and knife route while I decided to fold it in half and shove it into my mouth instead.

The pizza was hot, the mushrooms were fresh and the sauce was flavourful but not overbearing. The crust is rather thin which is a plus for me because I like thin crust pizzas. It was basically the complete opposite from the first slice I had here years ago. As good as it was, my slice could have used some more cheese and there wasn't as much pepperoni as I would have liked but overall it was still a good slice and worth going to again.

Value: 5/5

For a pop and slice (equivalent to 2 slices!), it only cost me $4.75. Working downtown, I'm used to spending close to $10 for lunch. This is definitely a recession proof meal that's well worth the money. I almost feel like I need to pay them a couple dollars more just to even it out.

Verdict: 4 Ninja Turtles out of 5

Despite the ghetto looking interior and the shady surroundings, The Big Slice is worth going to. While I wouldn't make a trek downtown just to grab a bite here, it is still a great spot to grab lunch if you're in the area.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Fresh Start

As you may or may not know, I blog over at Hungry Leafs Fan which is a sports blog with a restaurant review every now and then. I decided to start this new blog to keep things separate. From now on, I'll only be doing my food blogging on this blog and the other one will be 100% dedicated to sports. Over the next week or so I will try to move all my old restaurant reviews on to this blog.

In case you are new and somehow found your way here, I write reviews on the restaurants featured in BlogTO's best of Toronto lists...or the ones I can make my way to anyhow. Perhaps one day I will do restaurants outside of the lists but for now, there are still plenty of places I haven't been to that's on the list. Happy eatin'!