The Gist: Three Wahlberg brothers – Mark, Donnie and Paul – loved mealtimes in their low-income, Irish-Catholic, Dorchester, Boston home of nine kids so much, they created Wahlburgers out of their love of burgers and the comfort foods of their upbringing. Their first and original location opened in Hingham, MA in October 2011. Toronto is the first outpost in Canada, and only the second of the soon-to-expand –across-the-globe chain.
A mixture of food, family and love is apparent in every inch of Walhburgers. It just so happens these restaurateurs are insanely famous.
Grub: Like their Hingham location, the focus is burgers, made with locally sourced and house-made ingredients. So here the burgers made with 100 % Canadian beef, and the custom grind, created specifically by Chef Paul Wahlberg, comes from a local butcher. All burgers are cooked to medium, to keep them juicy, and topped with with Paul's signature “Wahl sauce” (the recipe is top secret), dill pickles, government cheese**, lettuce, tomato and onion.
(**An inexpensive American cheese that Paul and his family ate growing up, as they did not have a lot of money. Obviously now Chef Paul can afford to put any cheese he wants on his burgers, but he still feels this cheese is the best and reminds him of his past.)
But there is much more to the menu than just burgers and fries. A couple of of sandwiches - Jenn’s Chicken ($9.95), Crispy Haddock ($9.95) – can come lettuce wrapped if you’re not the bun/carb type. And there’s Spinach ($7.95), Classic ($6.95), Caesar ($6.95) and Alma’s Macaroni ($6.95), should you wish for a salad.
And while there are of course Fries ($3.50) and Onion Rings ($3.50), I say get the Tater Tots ($3.50), available in Sweet Potato or Regular. There’s nothing that will make you feel like a kid like these l’il beauties.
Libations: Try house specialties like the ‘Wahlbrewski North’ Pale Ale on tap ($7) made by Mill Street Brewery, Cherry Coke ($12 – cherry vodka, grenadine, Coke) or The Wahlbanger ($12 – Orange vodka, vanilla liquor, peach juice, sparkling wine). Or better yet, an Adult Frappe ($15 – Smore’s, Mud Pie, Blueberry Pie, and Funky Monkey), Paul’s grown-up, alcohol-fortified version of a milkshake that is truly “wicked awesome.”
‘Hood: King West.
Deets: The 120-seat restaurant offers a variety of ways to order and be seated. The bar area is loaded with TVs, so it’s a great spot to stop in and watch the game. A full-service dining area decorated with green booths allows you to settle in for lunch or dinner. A take out corner at the back gives you the option to get it to go or opt for the fast casual choice and take your meal on a tray up to the casual seating area on the second level. The bonus here is that you can peek over the edge and watch all the action below, including the TV screens.
Fixtures & Fittings: The whole place is filled with stuff to see and do. The ample TV screens light up the wide, high-ceilinged space, each booth comes with an outlet, letting you charge your devices while dining, and the faded image of the low-incoming house where the boys grew up peeks out from the wall and the papers lining the baskets of food. That, combined with the awesome posters with their quotes throughout the space, proves that these boys will never forget where they came from, and want you to share in where they’re going.
Off the Menu: Chef Paul’s pick, the Our Burger ($9.25) is the brand’s signature, comes in at 1/3 lb., and is unfussy but still memorable. The O. F. D. (Originally from Dorcester) ($11.95) features an 8 oz. beef patty, topped with housemade tomato jam, bacon, swiss cheese & sauteed mushrooms. Talk about sexy.
Donnie’s choice, the BBQ Bacon Burger ($9.95) topped with white cheddar cheese, bacon and avocado, finished with jalapenos and a house-made BBQ sauce, is a deeply satisfying blend of hot, sweet, salty and savoury.
Tator Tots ($3.50) are a must (see above), but go ahead and get the Fries ($3.50) too. Simple, but good.
Newly added: customers can now order gluten-free buns.
For dessert, get the Truffle Cookie ($1.95), which is moist, not too sweet and gluten-free.
How Cool is This?! The whole place is freakin’ cool. You can watch snippets of the Walburgers A&E reality show while dining, read the secrets of Mama Alma Wahlberg’s famous macaroni on one of the many posters, and there’s an entire wall with the names of Mark’s movies that can make mealtime into a fun trivia activity.
And best of all, you can celebrate the holidays year ‘round with Mark’s top pick, the Thanksgiving Burger ($9.95), made with fresh ground seasoned turkey, stuffing, Paul's orange cranberry sauce, roasted butternut squash & mayonnaise. Drool.
At the Stove: Chef Vincent Leung (Sen5es, and still currently chef de cuisine of Luckee. Busy man!)
FOH: Manager Alexandera Yetman
Head Honchos: Wahlburgers Canada is a collaboration of the Wahlbergs with Bruce Greenberg, President of Starwood Group; Michael Wekerle, Executive Chairman of Difference Capital; and Henry Wu, President of Metropolitan Hotels.
Visiting Hours: Open 7 days a week, Sun-Sat 11:30am - 12:00am
Map It: 46 Blue Jays Way (at the SoHo Met, near Wellington)
Phone It In: (416) 489-8922
Check out all the photos on our Facebook page.