607 Queen Street West Opening a few weeks ago, Gangster Burger is the brainchild of owners Will Nguyen and Lee Baxter (of FY INK). Formerly a shwarma place, the idea sprouted as a joke between Will and Lee. After a few days of negotiation with the former owner of the shwarma spot, the place was bought and visions started to fly. Nestled in between a record shop and a tea café, the spot is inspired by old school gangster films from the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s, the interior has a dark vibe, but isn’t too intimidating. The staff are super friendly with great music to boot. The Bosses: The menu boasts 4 burgers named after legendary gangsters who made their mark in the mob world: Al Capone, Pablo Escobar, Frank Lucas, and John Dillinger, along with an option to build your own burger – The Don C. and for the vegetarians out there, The Eliot Ness, inspired by the police agent of the same name, for our “good” of course. Everything is handmade – from the patties, to the fries, and even the unique sauces.
Side Hustles: Along with 6 burger options available, there are also sides of fries and salad and additional toppings. To go along with the old school theme, Coke and Sprite retro glass bottle drinks are available to purchase ($2.29), along with water, vitamin water and iced tea.For those “gangster burger virgins” out there who aren’t sure what they want, it was highly recommended from the staff that I try The Escobar ($7.59).
In honor of the great Pablo Escobar, the burger consists of a 6 oz. beef patty layered with a slice of mild cheddar, crushed seasoned tortilla, jalapeno ranch and finished with lettuce and tomato. The prep took about 10 minutes, which is longer than what is considered “fast food” because the patties are thrown on the grill when the order is placed. One bite in and I was already in love with the burger. The patty was perfectly cooked (not burnt or raw and had a bit of charred crunch), the cheese was cheesy and the bun wasn’t deflated or squished. Adrian saw me eating the burger and asked if I got it with fried plantain and I meekly said no. So he strongly suggested I add it and I was willing to try. A few minutes later I got my burger back and dove right back in where I stopped. Since the burger was already like a party in my mouth, the addition of the sweet fried plantain was a perfect touch. I literally left the place with the taste of the burger still resonating in my mouth for about half an hour because it was that amazing. “But why are you glorifying gangsters?” Will says the spot isn’t meant to glorify gangsters or perpetuate violence in anyway. He says that the idea is basically “living the dream of what a typical guy grew up with.”
We asked: What is your Manifesto?
"Whenever I travelled to LA and New York, I loved going to places that had great food and great people, and that what I wanted in Gangster Burger. A place that served good food, had a personality, and was driven by the lifestyle and culture of Toronto"
There’s also a special top-secret ingredient in the patty that makes it good, what is it? Well, if they told you, they’d have to kill you. Stop by the place and maybe you’ll find some a few guys eating on the trunk of their (really nice) cars…
Go ahead and check it out – they’ll make you a burger you can’t refuse.
Written by: Atina Chang