Toronto’s World Class Restaurant You’ve (Probably) Never Heard of

First thing’s first: it’s not your fault if you haven’t heard of the ultra exclusive, über-foodie supper club Charlie’s Burgers. And if you have, well kudos to you – you’re obviously plugged into that grapevine everyone’s always talking about.

In 2010, Food and Wine Magazine ranked Charlie’s Burgers the #3 ‘word of mouth’ supper club on their list of the Top 100 Best New Food and Drink Experiences in the World. No, that’s not a typo – it’s supposed to say IN THE WORLD. So it may come as no surprise that it’s even harder to book a table here than at Patrick Bateman’s fictional Dorsia.

Fantastic reviews aside, however, it’s also made difficult by the fact that the people behind Charlie’s Burgers (namely Founder Franco Stalteri – we know, we wish his name was Charlie, too) like to keep their roaming meals a well-kept secret. Despite having the participation of world-famous chefs like Jamie Kennedy and the crew from Paris’ Le Châteaubriand, Charlie’s Burgers considers itself more of an ‘anti-restaurant’ than the more traditional brick and mortar locales we’re used to waiting in line for on a Saturday night. Just look to their website for a clue. There you’ll find it actually promotes the phrase ‘anti-restaurant’ and, well, you won’t find any more information whatsoever, really. Click on the site and you’ll be prompted to enter your email so they can get back to you. They’ll send you a form to fill out including such ominous questions as ‘what would be your last meal on Earth?’ If they like what you have to say, you might even get an invite sooner or later. You won’t, however, know the location of a meal until just before it happens. You could be instructed to meet someone at a phone both or to show up in an empty parking lot. From there you’ll be given further secret instructions on where to go.   

Of course, none of this would work if it weren’t all worth it in the end. Which is where Charlie’s Burgers separates itself from the pack faster than a greyhound in a Chihuahua race. Dedicated to the idea of providing singular dining experiences, the crew behind Charlie’s Burgers works the event for free. Despite the price tag, this isn’t about making money. Their philosophy is based on the idea that if you head to a traditional restaurant to drop a few hundred bucks, you’re probably receiving less than half of that amount in actual wine and food costs. At Charlie’s Burger’s they aim to give you upwards of a 90% return on your hard-earned benjis. And they do so by providing 10, 12, 20, and even (one time) a hundred course meals created by superstar chefs given completely free reign to create their own menus. Add in wine pairings made with ‘interesting and sought-after wines’ (i.e. definitely not available at the LCBO) and hold it all in a location as unique as say, a museum, an art gallery, or an abandoned bakery, and you’ll understand why this is one of the hottest meal tickets in the city.

If you’ve got a love for one-of-a-kind grub we suggest you start filling out that questionnaire as soon as possible. Don’t just take our word for it, though; when famed Toronto chef Susur Lee stopped in one night to experience the event, he had only one complaint: ‘they should have charged double’.