Suburban Girl Eats: From Big City Eats to Hometown Favourites

October 16, 2012

(Wo)Man vs. Food: The Works Burger

When it comes to burgers, there is nothing but love here. My next belt-busting adventure took me to The Works, a gourmet burger chain meets industrial cool with restaurants in Oakville, Ottawa, Guelph and along the Danforth.

My favourite touch was these cool salt and pepper shakers. 

With over 70 burgers, there is literally something for everybody and with a choice of beef, chicken, turkey, portbello, veggie or elk, you could actually go every day of the year and not have the same thing twice. Needless to say, read the menu before you go.

This place is all in the details. You burger is dished out in a metal baking pan and drinks are served in pyrex measuring cups- I somehow managed to guzzle down four cups of Diet Coke. Don't bother lecturing me on aspartame, healthy amigos. If you are feeling full-cal (c'mon, you're here already), try the 2001 Odyssey Shake: caramel, peanut butter, oreo cookie goodness. After all, dessert first never hurts. 

I anticipate my decision in the burger department will measure up to those I make in prep for my wedding day (should I somehow fall into matrimony.) In the end, I said "I do" to the Dead Ringer. Bbq brisket, smokey barbecue sauce, havarti and an onion ring- bring it!

And this is where the real (wo)man versus food battle began. I seriously contemplated my choice of poutine, and stared down upon the pound of meaty goodness. Would it be easier to get down if it was drenched in their beechhouse sauce, aka mayo of the gods? Could I pass off the meat sweats as an adorable glory of happiness? 

Excuse me while I unhinge my jaw...

The burger was juicy, despite contrary reports by haters Yelpers, and that single piece of lettuce made me feel a little less carnivore. As I rounded up to the second half of the behemoth, I realized I had hit that "wall" that Adam Richman does as he plows through a five-pound burger. It was evident, I was still in the little leagues. In an attempt to persevere, I continued before finally admitting defeat in the last three delicious bites. 

In shame, I went home, paid my sister to untie my shoes for me and located the closest stretchy pants in the house. #truth

October 3, 2012

Urban: La Carnita

A war is brewing in the city, and its all about tacos.  I'm an eater, not a fighter, but in this case I wasn't playing Sweden; so I headed down to La Carnita for some delicious tacos, a hip atmosphere and damn strong margaritas. 

La Carnita not only has a cool vibe- from chicken coop-inspired lighting fixtures to pumping hip hop- but a pretty rocking story too. Starting as a pop-up, those that braved the line could buy a limited-edition print for $10 of their signature meathead. The art was, of course, served up with a side of two tacos. Talk about sticking it to the health enforcement man. You can now find their brick and mortar on College and Palmerstone.

My American citizenship may get revoked saying this but, I pledge allegiance to the flag of La Carnita. In Cod We Trust is my motto and go-to taco, with no visit complete without a bite of your own, or stolen from your dining buddy. The chorizo is equally flavourful, but good luck getting it in your mouth and not all over the plate. Messy < delicious. 

Feeling more adventurous? I keep my eyes glued to Twitter for their specials, like the octopus tostado. Served room temperature, this baby is piled high with chunky guac, heirloom tomato salsa and chili oil, plus enough octupus to make my white-bread sister have a mild panic attack. (Needless to say, she stuck with the chicken tacos, only after being convinced that green cabbage wouldn't kill her. *Sassy eye roll*)

This is but only a cue to order another margarita. Hey, sometimes you've had that kind of week- and I certainly had between running Orientation for my university and a relationship status shake-up- and you thank the heavens that La Carnita knows how to make a strong one. Made with Tromba Tequila, it packs the right amount of punch without making you reach for lemon to wedge in your pucker. 

Save room for the sweet stuff. Churros can be hit or miss, but are always ordered as a vehicle for the cajeta (sweetened caramelized milk). You could drink it, if only it were socially acceptable. People rave about their paletas, like lime pie coated in graham crumbs. Again, messy < delicious. 

Staying true to their roots, with your receipt comes one of their prints, signed and numbered. If you got it, flaunt it. 

October 1, 2012

Suburban: Osmow's Grill

There are few things I love more than shawarma. My love affair with Osmow's Grill has outlasted my previous three relationships; now that is commitment.

In my little town of Streetsville (the village in the heart of the "city"- nice try Mississauga), there are few joints to choose from beyond your small town staples of Tim Hortons and pizza places. And in Streetsville there is no shortage of pizza- or budget nail salons, but that is beyond the point. My first rendez-vous with Osmow's was in high school, about the time when my crew became such regulars that our names alone stood in place of our orders. The Erin? Regular chicken shawarma, only lettuce, medium spice with extra garlic sauce. That, and a dessert of much needed breath mints.

Go expecting a line! Though the town may have only have 48,000 residents we evidently love our shawarma, because there is bound to be a line-up to the back door at lunch, dinner, or pretty much any time you are there. You can always call ahead to order 905 826-6021 before you trek down Thomas Street. City folks, listen up! They have opened a new location in the past weeks at 155 John Street, just off of Queen. (I'll spare you the GO ride)

Now while they do have more on the menu- with traditional dishes like fattouch salad, falafel and baklava- the shawarma is the star attraction at a $5 flat. The student special is under $7 and comes with fries and pop. Deliciously spiced meat carved off a spit, wrapped inside a pita and topped with a bevvy of veggies before hitting the grill- this dish is simple, yet flavourful. Careful with your spice level. Though you may feel a little white bread for not going full-fledged hot, those last few bites are an inferno stoked by a spice-loving demon. 

When I was there last, I spied with my little eye a wonder I could barely comprehend. Shawarma meat, sauce, more sauce and french fries. They called it a shawarma poutine. I called it love at first sight, all over again.