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10 Canadian Restaurants

Harveys on Baseline and Merivale (Ottawa)
Harveys on Baseline and Merivale (Ottawa)

Welcome to my new series, the “Canadian List of Ten”! Ten weeks, ten posts, ten lists and one hundred new Canadian things for you, from food to language, from city to weather.

I must admit it, I’m not a fast food person. I can’t even remember the last time I visited one — I’m still too French to eat a greasy burger and fries. That said, when I first came to Canada, I did tasted most of Canadian’s fast foods and diner-style restaurants. There were only McDonalds’ and Quick (the French fast food) where I grew up and I was quite amazed by the number of franchises, Canadian or American, in Canada.

But it was only a few months-long phase and I now tend to go to ethnic restaurants or local places. I like a burger once in a while but I’m picky: I want a nice grilled burger, with real fresh meat.

So here a list of the top Canadian restaurants, fast food and coffee places. You must know at least a few…!

  1. The Works: this restaurant only exists in Ottawa where it has 5 locations but I couldn’t resist adding it to the list. It specializes in “gournet burger” and has a long menu of very funny and weird combination. You can have a peanut butter burger, some come with fried eggs, blue cheese or bananas. Each burger has a name (for example, “Don Cherry”, “Crappy Tire”, “Hold The Phone”, “Johnny Be Goat”).
  2. Extreme Pita: the company was founded by two Canadian brothers, in 1997, in Waterloo, Ontario. They sell a variety of pita wraps with stuffed with North American ingredients as well as more ethnic ones, such as hummus.
  3. Joey’s Only: the largest seafood restaurant chain in Canada started in… Alberta. The menu features a variety of seafood dish.
  4. La Belle Province: this is a well-known fast-food eatery in the province of Quebec. The first location was opened in the 1970s in Montréal… by a Greek immigrant. The menu features the usually greasy spoon items, some with a local twist, such as poutine, burgers, smoked meat sandwiches and bagels.
  5. Mr. Sub: this sandwich shop originally from Toronto is the third largest submarine restaurant chain in Canada. It sells submarines, footlong sandwiches stuffed with fresh ingredient and made to order.
  6. A&W: the Canadian fast food restaurant chain has nothing to do with the American A&W anymore. It is famous for selling Root Beer, a carbonated soft-drink popular in North American (and yes, alcohol free).
  7. Swiss Chalet: it is a chain of Canadian family restaurants originally founded in 1954 in Toronto, Ontario. It is best known for rotisserie chicken and smoked barbecue ribs served with sides such as fries, gravy sauce, beans etc.
  8. St-Hubert: this casual dining restaurant franchise is the 16th largest restaurant chain operating in Canada. Most of its locations are in Québec (including a busy one at Montréal airport). It specializes in rotisserie chicken.
  9. Harvey’s: this fast food is the second-largest Canadian-established restaurant chain behind Tim Hortons, and is the fourth-largest burger chain in Canada. It serves hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, onion rings etc. Burgers are grilled in front of the customers, who then get to pick among 11 different toppings and condiments. It is also famous for its “Free Original Hamburger Day” held every year: any body can come in and claim a free burger. Huge queue ahead!
  10. Tim Hortons: the Canadian fast food restaurant, known for its donuts and coffee, is a huge business in Canada. It has 2,939 outlets in Canada (more than McDonalds has!) and accounts for 22.6% of all fast food industry revenues in Canada. Yep, that much. Canadian are addicted to their “Timmies”, even though I still don’t get why. The restaurant are are packed, not exactly nice and comfy (drive through is the way to go) and the coffee isn’t great. But this is Tim Horton’s, a part of Canada!

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