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Burger’s Priest vs. Holy Chuck

Religious irreverence, squishy buns, American cheese, high-quality freshly ground beef apparently this is what makes a top burger joint in Toronto these days. Reader, I’m sure we both have other favourites. The Drake, Marben and Allen’s all make excellent pub style burgers. The Stockyards has a griddled burger that is pretty close but Holy Chuck Bugers and Burger’s Priest are clearly not just fighting in the same weight class but they’re wearing different shades of the same colour of trunks.

Critics of the lineups be damned, the Priest is clearly the one wearing the title belt.

Now some of you will take their similarity as license to accuse Holy Chuck, who opened this September, a year and a half after Burger’s Priest of being a knock off. To which I say: Calm down. The (modern) burger was invented within a hundred miles of New York City and perfected at drive-ins across California half a century ago–not last summer on a distant stretch of Queen Street next to a KFC. Not to mention that while the beef should be top-quality both American cheese and Wonder Bread style buns are clearly products of standardised, industrial production.

The two combatants enter the squared circle.

The two combatants enter the squared circle.

So, with a challenger entering the arena in a gaudy silver robe it’s time for Burger’s Priest to lace up the gloves and defend their title in a fair fight. Obviously, this situation calls for a blind taste test. I could think of no better group to use as guinea pigs than friends Jen, Nina, Mark, Suresh, and Mike who are part of the Spotlight crew and all have palates that I hold in high esteem.

I’ll do a separate post on the methodology but the quick summary is that we each tasted a quarter of the double cheeseburger from each competitor. Both were ordered at the same time, cooked medium, without toppings.

Rest assured we were careful to make this a blind taste test. Actually, the first and nearly unanimous comment was how hard it was to tell the burgers apart. Both were widely praised as top-notch specimens and tasters were surprised by their similarity.

Like Hogan and Macho Man at Wrestlemania V this seemed like a bout between former team mates who had just found themselves too similar to get along.

By a razor-thin 3 – 2 vote Holy Chuck won. Our sixth taster arrived a few minutes late, sampled the two without knowing how we had voted and picked Burger’s Priest.

Clearly, we could not have been closer to a tied vote and still declared a winner.

The Burger's Priest double cheeseburger. Obviously a coarser, more crumbly texture.

The Burger's Priest double cheeseburger. Obviously a coarser, more crumbly texture.

The Priest’s entry was thought by most to be a bit saltier and those who voted for it found this led to a beefier taste. The meat also had a slightly coarser, more crumbly texture. Holy Chuck seemed a bit juicier, with a smoother, creamier, more cheesy taste. Bun, cheese, and meat seemed more seamlessly tied together in the Holy Chuck burger.

The new champ, the double cheeseburger from Holy Chuck Burgers.

The new champ, the double cheeseburger from Holy Chuck Burgers.

Obviously, there is more to these combatants than just their core burger. Burger’s priest has their secret menu and old-school style; Holy Chuck has seats, delicious milkshakes, and some interesting dessert options. Trust me that we’ll be back for more of these tests

Holy Chuck Burgers: 1450 Yonge Street, Toronto; 416-962-4825; info@HolyChuckBurgers.com; open 11 AM to 10 PM Mon – Sat (pickup orders taken by phone); @HOLYCHUCKBURGER.

The Burger’s Priest: 1636 Queen Street East, Toronto; 647-346-0617; call ahead to place pickup orders; open 11:30 AM to 9:30 PM Mon – Wed, 11:30 AM – 10:30 PM Thur – Fri, and noon to 10:30 PM Sat.

The Burger's Priest on Urbanspoon Holy Chuck on Urbanspoon

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23 Comments

  1. Bonita says:

    Am ashamed to admit I still have yet to make it out to Burger’s Priest. But was thoroughly impressed by Holy Chuck. Agree that they are very juicy with a good amount of beefy flavour in them as well. Plus brownie points for being so much closer to where I live… ;-)

  2. foodwithlegs says:

    Thanks for commenting, Bonita. Mmmm…brownie points.

    In response to another comment (and not Bonita’s) I’m going to have to invoke the no-anonymous-comments rule on this post.

    A commenter, who went to great lengths to disguise his or her identity, had a bad experience at Holy Chuck. Also, they report that Burger’s Priest will be opening a new location at Yonge and Lawrence that will be equipped with seats. If they want to repost their comment with their real name and an email address so that I can verify this I’ll be happy to approve it.

  3. Celine says:

    Ha ha! I love a group blind taste test. And the photo of the two half-burgers facing off cracked me up. I’ve done the Burger’s Priest cheeseburger but this post ensures I will be visiting Holy Chuck Burgers very soon. Thanks!

  4. Dan says:

    @foodwithlegs: I can confirm that there will be a new Burger’s Priest location opening at Yonge & Lawrence. I was told this by one of the people working at The Burger Cellar when I was there 10 days ago. From what I was told the new Burger’s Priest location will be opening 2 doors to the north of The Burger Cellar.

    There was also a post by The Burger’s Priest on their Facebook page on June 2nd: “If I was a new Burger’s Priest location ………where would I go????” http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=195817360464326&id=102175203161876 which clearly indicates a new location of BP will be opening. However, when I looked at the storefront of the location reportedly slated to become a Burger’s Priest location I could see no indication of this. Beyond that, on Saturday someone commented on the FB Wall of BP “…no where to sit.Would be wonderful if you had some tables to sit at.” To which BP replied on Sunday “Soon” (see http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=255641577815237&id=102175203161876).

    Take from those what you will.

  5. foodwithlegs says:

    Hi Dan, thanks for commenting and sharing the link to this post on Twitter.

    I think it’s about time that Burger’s Priest opened a second location. I respect their desire to find the right location and maintain their consistently high quality but I think the growing consensus is that Queen and Coxwell is just too far away from anyone who doesn’t live in that area. Further on timing a restaurant owner’s definition of “soon” can often (for reasons beyond their control) be different from ours. Take the wait for the Danforth Pizzeria Libretto as an example. On location I’ve heard that they may also be looking further east (Scarborough, I guess) than their current spot.

    Thanks again for the heads up on a new BP location. As I say there is more to the differences between the two than location and seating. I think that the HC owners are more willing to experiment with their menu items while the guys behind BP are careful to make sure they’re doing a couple things excellently. I’ll be interested to see what this brings over the next little while but from a customer’s perspective the more competition the better.

  6. Claudio says:

    I heard about Holychuck and convinced my 8 friends to go for a ride to try this place. I had high expectations considering I drove from Brampton to get there. Well 9 guys in 2 cars made the trip to midtown. You can imagine how difficult it is to please 9 different palates but by the end of the experience it was time to unbuckle our pants. What a burger, well worth the drive. The staff was really friendly and helped me decide on what to order. I had the “Cowlorie” and the “Nutella & Caramel shake”. You can just taste the freshness in their ingredients. OMG is about the only thing I can come up with. This is burgers done right and I’ll definitely be back.

  7. I enjoy them both almost equally.

    Burger’s Priest has the bonus of doing an imitation Big Mac, which HC doesn’t do.

    HC has the advantage of being about 10-15 mins from me by TTC and walking distance on a nice day. The distance advantage definitely means I’ll be having a lot more HC than BP.

    A BP opening closer to my place may shift the balance…

  8. Claudio says:

    I heard from a few people that Holy Chuch is coming out with a new menu that’s going to have a “Big Mac” style burger on it, along with a lot of new stuff…this I need to try!!

  9. [...] See how Burger’s Priest did in a blind taste test of double cheeseburgers against Holy Chuck. (You might be [...]

  10. [...] how Holy Chuck did in a blind taste test of double cheeseburgers against Burger’s Priest. (You might be [...]

  11. eli says:

    I went to hc on a Friday at 6pm i was the only one there waited20 min.. asked for a med got well done, it was nothing like the picture you have in the blo. it was thin and dry,frys were dry almost 2 days old. will not be back. hc has to come up with something extra ordinary since they copied everything from bp

  12. Steve says:

    I haven’t tried Holy Chuck yet….but Burger’s Priest is so clearly a carbon-copy ripoff of (the wonderful) SHAKE SHACK in NYC that they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

    If you’re going to open a restaurant, why not contribute something original and creative yourself, rathaner than just try to copy something successful from antoher city? Did they not think anyone from Toronto travels, and would notice?

  13. foodwithlegs says:

    Thanks for the comment, Steve. I’m sensitive to the idea that originality should be rewarded and respected but: 1. No one flies from Toronto to New York every time they want a good burger; 2. Shake Shack did not invent anything here; and 3. I’d much rather have a well-executed, simple, classic burger than another atrocious kangaroo patty with zucchini-olive tapenade and truffle aioli or the like.

    In a related update this Grid story makes it look like Burger’s Priest location 2 will be opening in early December next to The Burger Cellar near Yonge and Teddington Park between Lawrence and York Mills. I’m happy to read there will be seats and shakes but I imagine that those who howl about going to Queen and Coxwell will not be pacified by a ten-minute walk from Lawrence station.

  14. Dan says:

    Hey again all,
    Doesn’t look like it is open yet even though everyone was saying a December 1st opening. I passed by yesterday at around 4:30pm and took some pictures without getting out of the car. I hosted them on my own personal blog because I don’t think there’s any way to upload a picture to this comment.

    Looking at it from a little to the south: http://levynewsnetwork.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/img-20111215-00174.jpg
    Looking at it from right outside:
    http://levynewsnetwork.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/toronto-20111215-00175.jpg

    Clearly this puts any question at all of it being opened at that location to rest.

  15. foodwithlegs says:

    Thanks, Dan. Yeah, no doubt that the new BP is going in there. You can get updates of a sort on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Burgers-Priest/102175203161876

    At this point it’s basically someone asking, every day or so, when they’ll be open and they reply “soon”.

  16. [...] to fight this law and win. Their straight-up double cheeseburger is good enough that it just barely edged Burger’s Priest in our blind tasting. Instead of being satisfied with that offering he’s also experimenting with menu options that [...]

  17. bill says:

    I have yet to try Holy Chuck (but will soon!), but I did have Burger Priest for the first time last week (after 3 failed attempts previously – once they were closed on Sunday, twice the lines were too ridiculous so club sandwiches at Jim’s one time and Chino Loco’s the other).

    My verdict: Delicious first bite. I had a double cheeseburger with bacon, fried onions, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mayo and that’s it I think.

    As I said that first bite was the climax…or tipping point because things went downhill from there. Not way downhill, but downhill. I love nasty, greasy, unhealthy food…and this burger was simply too much. The fat content in the burger is too high. There was just too much grease. My buddy (also a lover of delicious, heart-clogging chow) and both agreed that neither of us would sh*t right for a week after finishing the burger. My stomach felt off for a day or two apres.

    Good burger and glad I tried it once, but this is at best a ‘once a year’ burger…for me at least.

    PS: 5 Guys is a solid, not spectacular, fast food burger here in Toronto…and the fries are amazing. I would LOVE and In-and-Out Burger in TO as well!

    PPS: secret menu’s are so stupid. That annoys me greatly about Burger Priest. Go move to Greenpoint if you want to go to places with secret menus…poser!

  18. Nabetz says:

    Stumbled upon ur blog and I too share your love for great burgers (esp Burger’s Priest & Stockyards…have you tried the double cheeseburger @ Stockyards?) I live in Oakville & have made the drive several times to BP. Greasy, fall apart patties with a cheese undertone…amazing.

    Over the past year and a half, I’ve made it my goal to find the best burger in the GTA. But along the way, I’ve realized that it needed to be divided up in 2 divisions…grilled vs griddled. I’ve had too many opposing opinions among my burger aficionados.

    The Griddled Champion has been BP since it opened, but recently I had the Stockyards cheeseburger and its a close 2nd. I think I need another visit to fully study it. A new specialty burger joint opened up in Oakville called “The Works” and I will be trying it this weekend. I also need to visit Holy Chuck soon for a review.

    The Grilled Champion, hands down, has been Woody’s (Lakeshore & Browns line). Big handful of meat that takes 20min to cook over a wood fire grill. So good on a different level. Try & make a trip down there ;-)

    Thoughts?

  19. Tara says:

    I finally tried Holy Chuck today and was very glad I did. Let me start by saying that I’m a huge fan of BP already.

    The Holy Chuck burger was very similar to BP’s and you could taste the freshness and quality. I like a simple, fresh “Wonderbread” ’70s style bun. I liked that the beef was not as salty as BP.

    Next time, I want to try their “special sauce” which comes on The Big Chuck. Fries looked good, but I didn’t try them.

    Had a chocolate shake. Very good, and very thick.

    Bonus: love their retro arcade game with ’80s classics like Pac Man. Love that Holy Chuck is in the heart of Toronto, on top of the Yonge / St. Clair subway.

  20. Tammy says:

    I just posted about Burgers Priest and now you’ve got me wanting to try Holy Chuck! Hmmmm, I wonder who will win for my husband and I…we both found Burgers Priest to be slightly salty.

  21. Tammy says:

    I just posted about Burgers Priest and now you’ve got me wanting to try Holy Chuck! Hmmmm, I wonder who will win for my husband and I…we both found Burgers Priest to be slightly salty.

  22. [...] Burger’s Priest for dinner.  The choice wasn’t so random; Food With Legs had done a blind taste test between cheeseburgers from both burger [...]

  23. Sam says:

    Holy Chuck is hands down a better burger. Burger Priest makes my stomach U-turn. Holy chuck just tastes awesome. I went to BP and HC on same day and I won’t go back to BP for there burgers anymore but will go back for the ice cream sandwich only. HolyChuck has the best burgers I’ve ever had and I’m a burger fanatic. I’ve had Kobe burgers from many places, burgers from so many other joints and nothing comes close to HC. I had the triple cheeseburger with bacon and cheese. Sooooooooooooo f*ckin gooooooooddddddddd. My opinion try BP and HC see for urself holy chuck is definately the BETTER BURGER by far. Thank god someone finally opened a burger joint that has Excellent tasting burgers.

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