10 Canadian Restaurant Chains You Have To Try When Visiting Canada
Photo: Tonygers (Getty)
As a proud Canadian, I encourage everybody to visit Canada. But since I’m no expert on our nation, I figured I’d consult on something I do consider myself an expert in: food. More specifically: fast food. So with that, I present to you the best Canadian food franchises to visit on your journey through our very polite, seasonal, beer drinking nation.
1. The Works
If you consider yourself a burger aficionado, this place is a can’t-miss. I guarantee there is no place on earth that offers more burger options — with fun, hokey names like Notorious P.I.G., Six Degrees Of K’vin Bacon — than The Works. The industrial-looking restaurant features six kinds of patties and over 50 toppings that include: deep-fried bacon, peanut butter, banana slices, Kraft Dinner and seven kinds of cheeses.
My advice is to ask your server which burger they recommend, as many locations feature burgers inspired by the city. You should also get the onion rings as your side, because they’re seriously next-level, especially when paired with their signature beech sauce.
My favorite fast food hamburger, hands down. Whenever my fiancée and I are hungover, we fill our guts with the greasy goodness that is Harvey’s. Second to Tim Horton’s in successful businesses native to Canada, Harvey’s burgers are notoriously charbroiled and can be customized as you see fit. It kind of works like Subway in that sense, where you’re taken through a line of various vegetables and sauces where you can add as much or as little as you want. But you HAVE to do pickles. Trust me on this.
My recommendation? Fill up an original burger with everything you could possibly imagine having on a burger and grab a side of deep-fried pickles. Fries, onion rings and poutine are all other potential side options if pickles aren’t your thing.
3. Pizza Pizza
The pizza is absolute crap — basically cardboard with cheese and an assortment of partially cooked vegetables — but their dipping sauces more than make up for these faults, particularly the Creamy Garlic and Jalapeno Cheddar. The sauce is the only reason my buddies and I order from here. Pizza Pizza is kind of an ongoing joke among Canadians, but it’s a joke that is open later than every other delivery place, which means when you’re shitfaced and hungry at 1 a.m., there’s no better — or available — option.
4. New York Fries
This is a place named after an American city but is only available in Canada, which makes next to no sense. But, New York Fries is completely dedicated to the masterful french fry, and with that, they’re forgiven.
If you must limit yourself to one item on the menu, I’d go with their classic poutine, a traditionally Canadian dish packed full of fries, premium cheese curds and their incomparable (and trans-fat free) gravy. If you have room for two dishes (if not, make room), opt for the Bacon Double Cheese Poutine. You won’t be disappointed. Maybe a little disgusted with yourself, but not disappointed.
For any big fans of breakfast, you can’t go wrong with Cora’s. The menu at this mom-and-pop-do-brunch shop (expect to be surrounded by the elderly) is ridiculously extensive and is almost entirely dedicated to the most important meal of the day: breakfast.
Pancakes, waffles, crepes (sweet and savory), skillets, sandwiches, you name it — if it has to do with breakfast, they have it. Based on what I’ve tasted, I usually opt for the burrito crepe, which is a large breakfast burrito made with a warm crepe instead of a tortilla. It’s delicious. Though the menu is somewhat expensive, it’s almost always worth it.
6. Thai Express
For fast food Thai, Thai Express is good. It’s damn good. It’s like when you order Chinese food at the mall: the stuff isn’t as good as authentic take-out, but it’s still delicious. What’s fun about this place is that you can actually see your food being made — and there’s giant woks and flames for fuck sakes! It’s low-scale Hibachi. Except not at all. I usually grab the chicken pad Thai. You should, too.
7. Mr. Sub
Like Subway, but better. More generous. While locations do certainly vary on their generosity, I’ve found that most Mr. Sub restaurants have better quality ingredients, and, unlike Subway, they don’t have to be told to add more toppings because they’re fairly generous to begin with. For the purpose of this article, grab the Canadian Club: a national delicacy complete with crispy bacon, turkey and ham. Then just load the thing with whatever toppings and sauces you want.
8. Swiss Chalet
I was very surprised to find that there are no Swiss Chalets in America because it’s such a huge institution in Canada. Famous for their chicken and chalet sauce (a very salty, thin gravy), you’d be remiss to order anything aside from their classic quarter chicken dinner — though I have to admit the ribs are pretty damn good as well. Just know that when you go, many of your fellow diners will be in their sixties or over. Grandma’s love this place.
9. Moxie’s Grill & Bar
OK, Moxie’s Grill & Bar is nothing special, but if it’s beautiful Canadian women you’re after, I’ll just say that Moxie’s knows how to hire (check Shoeless Joe’s and Earl’s as well). The waitresses tend to be more appealing than any item on the menu, which is quite the compliment, considering the menu’s not bad at all.
10. Pickle Barrell
The most impressive asset at Pickle Barrel is their almost encyclopedic menu. It’s absolutely massive, and the food is pretty good. The menu is so ridiculously large that I couldn’t possibly recommend something to eat, but know that whatever you get, you won’t be disappointed. Well you might, this place isn’t amazing by any means. But it’s a Canadian institution that I’ve visited many times. Also, just in case you’re curious, the restaurant and its menu have nothing to do with pickles, so the name makes absolutely no sense.