Canadian comfort food: Toronto's best poutine

As temperatures plummet and February looms, the warm, cosy lure of the Canadian comfort meal beckons. You know what this means; French fries smothered in gravy and topped with creamy curds. That’s right, there’s nothing that warms the cockles quite like poutine.

Poutine became the national de-facto dish because everyone was too lazy to make Tourtiere. This lowly dish from the province of Quebec has risen to the lofty heights of being Canada’s most love national cuisine. For the uninitiated, poutine is a plate of fries smothered in gravy and topped with cheese curds. Although some find any deviation from this triangle of awesomeness treason of the highest order and downright ‘un-Canadian’, the more adventurous chefs are creating poutine masterpieces from all manner of ingredients.

Ask 20 Torontonians what they think the best poutine joint in town is and you’re bound to get 20 different answers. So I decided to ask a whole lot more and, even though there was very little consensus, there were defiantly areas of overlap. So, if not the definitive list I was aiming for, here is a stab at the best places to get poutine in the city of Toronto.

The Burger Shoppe on Queen Street got several votes and even some dreamy-eyed musings about gravy. Poutine Plus on Queen and Bathurst made the bold move of opening up across the road from the reigning poutine champ, Smoke’s Poutinerie, but they do give the old stalwart a run for its money. Poutine Plus serve several varieties of poutine topped with a signature beef gravy. Smoke’s Poutinerie is famous for its wild, wacky and often downright ludicrous poutine suggestions like (look away if you’re a poutine puritan) Nacho Veggie Poutine, Bacon Poutine and the memorable Curry Chicken Poutine.

The Victory Cafe’ is also a great spot for a beer and a mean, lean, poutine. Victory is a restaurant so cozy, you feel like it’s giving you a hug when you walk in the door.

Then there are those who swear by the chip truck poutine. This tends to be the same crowd who is most likely to hit up Dangerous Dan’s Diner at 3.30 a.m. in pursuit of something to still their hunger pangs. Dangerous Dan’s can hold its own when it comes to poutine, make no mistake. Still, the chip truck poutine has a special place in everyone’s hearts. The chip truck stop on the way to the cottage for the weekend is a quintessential Canadian tradition. If you are looking for the best chip truck in the city, the one outside City Hall got several votes and high praise from its disciples.

For those who like to eat poutine off a plate rather than hunkered over a takeaway container armed with a plastic fork, Bannock is the place for you. Specializing in all things Canadian, this rustic retreat can bang out a really great poutine at a very reasonable price.

Poutine is the food of the hungry, the cold and the Canadian. I hope you treat yourself soon. Let us know if there are any can’t-miss-poutineries in your city.

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