The most contentious debate among cottagers isn’t whether to heat with wood or propane. It isn’t whether to use newspaper or birch bark as kindling.
Nope. It’s where to stop for a burger on the trip to or from the cottage.
Ontarians who make the trip up Highway 11 towards Muskoka are familiar with the massive line-ups outside of Webers Hamburgers just north of Orillia. In fact, Weber’s got so popular in the early 1980s that they repurposed part of a CN Tower pedestrian bridge to give burger-hungry travellers heading south a way to cross the road safely. (It’s still the only privately owned bridge over a public highway in Ontario.)
Love it or hate it, Webers is the stuff of legend. But it’s not the only one.
Dominion Hotel, Minden: The oldest operating hotel in Haliburton county, and the oldest building in downtown Minden, the Dominion Hotel has a hefty dose of history behind it—but its menu has a thoroughly modern twist. Sure, you can get a thick, juicy Big D burger—or, if you’re really hungry, a Double Big D, which has “more meat than you should eat”—but if you’re leaning toward the healthy side of things, the Dominion offers a lean bison burger served on a whole wheat ciabatta bun with a black bean and corn salad on the side. Other burger variations include the Chicago Blue Burger (blue cheese, barbecue sauce and an onion ring) and the Down Eastern’r (lobster, crab, baby celery, and mozzarella).
Texas Burger, Fenelon Falls: There’s nothing froufrou about Texas Burger—just lean, homemade hamburgers made from locally sourced beef, available in sizes ranging from 3.2 ounces to a belly-busting eight ounces. And if it’s too early for burgers? Texas Burger does a mean breakfast, too—just the right amount of grease, salt, and caffeine to fuel a day of driving.
Bill’s Pizza, Bracebridge: Bill’s Pizza has a decidedly Mediterranean flair to it, offering an incredibly popular homemade pizza along with chicken and pork souvlaki. But don’t let that fool you—Bill’s makes an enormous double banquet burger dripping with toppings that will satisfy even the most discerning burger devotee. (Rumour has it that Bill’s also makes a four-patty tower called the “Curtis Burger,” but it doesn’t appear on the official menu.)
Coal Shed Willie Restaurant, Wiarton: Travel up the Bruce Peninsula, and you’ll come to the home of a burger joint that has one of the most beautiful views in the province, overlooking both Colpoys Bay and the statue of a certain February-happy rodent. Located in Bluewater Park in downtown Wiarton (and just around the corner from said rodent’s enclosure), Coal Shed Willie specializes in fish and chips, but their burgers are worth the trip all on their own, as are the battered mushrooms that make a nice alternative to fries. Sit in the restaurant, or, better yet, get takeout and have a picnic down by the water.
Dwight Market, Dwight: OK—you can’t get cooked hamburgers at Dwight Market. What you can get, though, is prime-rib patties all ready for popping on your own grill—because, all debates aside, that’s where the best cottage country hamburgers are found. Whether you build a fire by the lake, relish the smell of a charcoal hibachi, or light up the gas grill, nothing quite compares to the smell of your own sizzling hamburgers wafting through the trees.