If you’ve never encountered it before, poutine may not look like the most appetizing dish – but don’t let any Canadian hear you say that! This dish originated on Canada’s east coast and its popularity has spread even to some parts of the United States. At its most basic, poutine consists of french fries topped with cheese curd and brown gravy. Countless fast food joints around Toronto sell poutine, but some put a unique spin on the dish to make it a little more exciting.
Locally, Caplansky’s is considered the mecca of smoked meats. Accordingly, the gravy for the poutine it serves is made from the establishment’s home-smoked meat – a definite step up from the average brown gravy most places slap on top.
Address: 356 College St, Toronto, ON M5T 1S6, Canada
The brainchild of renowned chef Jamie Kennedy, this downtown gourmet diner offers a different variation on poutine every day, so you can never be sure what you’re going to get until you get there! With past menus including options such as the incredible beer-braised beef poutine with caramelized onions, you can safely assume that any surprises at Gilead will be good!
Address: 4 Gilead Pl, Toronto, ON M5A 1H4, Canada
“Greasy spoon” favourite BQM prides itself on the KISS principle – “Keep it simple, stupid!” Its poutine options include chilli cheese, bacon and onion and pulled pork, but the best is the classic cheese curd and gravy poutine. The chips are done just right and the gravy is simple without being plain.
Address: 688 Queen St E. Toronto ON M4M 1G9
Poutini’s is perhaps the most popular poutine spot in Toronto, famed for its twice-fried extra crunchy fries and “squeaky” curd, which is made fresh every day. The squeakiness is something you can appreciate only once you’ve experienced the curd’s texture! The gravy also comes in vegan friendly and gluten-free forms. The bacon poutine with maple syrup is highly recommended.
Address: 1112 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1H9
Phone: (647) 342-3732
Besides its classic poutine offering, Utopia Café and Grill also offer a gourmet poutine option, complete with sautéed mushrooms, goats’ cheese curd and vegetable gravy. There is definitely a hint of brandy or sherry in the gravy, which mingles beautifully with the mushrooms and is an uncommon but welcome addition to a poutine dish.
Address: 586 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1B3
Phone: (416) 534-7751 ·
Bannock is a classic Canadian comfort food café, part diner and part restaurant. Its approach to poutine is totally unique – duck poutine pizza. The double starch of fries on pizza is, perhaps surprisingly, a great combo, and the juicy duck meat goes perfectly with the gravy and curd.
Address: 401 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5H 2Y4 32 m N
Phone: (416) 861-6996 ·
The Blue Chip Truck
The Blue Chip Truck has become a Toronto institution. This blue van has been selling poutine and fries outside City Hall into the early hours for years, and is a local favourite, especially after a night out on nearby Queen Street West. This is typical street fare at good street fare prices. Not gourmet, but it deserves a special place on this list as an essential example of poutine.
Address: 50 St. George Street, Toronto, ON.
Come and Get it!
What was once an unused restaurant space, on the brink of being snatched up by another condo development, has been rescued by Jon Polubiec, who has opened up something of a makeshift eatery on the corner of Queen and Spadina. The establishment’s must-try dish is the pork-belly poutine. Every bite includes an incredible bit of golden glistening crackling embedded in thick homemade gravy.
Address: 170 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON
Phone: (647) 344-3416