No one’s entirely sure of poutine’s exact origins, but it’s generally accepted that the messy, gooey combo of fries, cheese curds, and gravy was born in a Quebec restaurant sometime in the 1950s. Was it Le Lutin Qui Rit in Warwick? Or Le Roy Jucep in Drummondville? Regardless of who came up with it first, savvy poutine fans know that it really should be pronounced pou-tsin or pou-tin, not pou-TEEN—at least if you’re ordering anywhere where they speak French.
Here are some of our readers’ favourite places to get the best poutine. FYI, some of these places are only open seasonally, so double-check before heading out any time between Thanksgiving and the May long weekend.
Crispy fries and big portions of cheese curds set Country Bob’s poutine apart, as do the reasonable prices ($10 for a family-sized serving). If the poutine isn’t enough (and seriously, it should be), their banquet burgers and onion rings also get the thumbs-up from satisfied reviewers.
Beware: when The Lunch Box says their poutine is large, they mean large. This newcomer to the Esso Station in Rosedale layers their cheese and gravy, rather than simply topping the fries, which makes for an ooey, gooey delicious mess of melty goodness. If you feel like being a little untraditional, get your poutine with sweet potato fries rather than regular ones.
You can’t get much fresher than the squeaky cheese curds that Fromagerie St-Albert makes on-site. Combine those wonderful curds with gravy and fries, and you’ve got a masterpiece of poutine. One of the oldest co-ops in Canada, Fromagerie St-Albert also boasts a museum, group tours, and, not surprisingly, a cheese shop.
An off-shoot of Lucky’s Snack Bar in Spanish, Ont., Lucky’s Home Style Restaurant boasts the same popular burgers and poutine, along with lots of other delicious options—think chicken parm, liver and onions, and other comfort food faves. Thirsty? Try a float made with grape Crush and vanilla ice cream.
So Cheesy Monkii has some of the best poutine, but you can also get those lovely cheese curds panko-crusted and deep-fried, either in a taco or on their own. Check out their burgers too— they’re seasoned with salt, maple peppercorn spice, and a garlic, onion, and parsley puree that send them many steps above your usual take-out burger.
Shelby’s is the place to go if you want poutine with a twist. Oh, sure, they sell the traditional stuff. But if you’re feeling adventurous, try their Pickle Lovers offering: kiddy-sized poutine covered in dill pickle chips, drizzled in ranch dressing, and sprinkled with fresh pickles. Not a pickle fan? Shelby’s Loaded Poutine is what you’d expect if poutine and nachos got together and had a baby: the best of both worlds.
Great fries, great burgers, and great poutine—Bob’s Lake Burger Bus has it all. Large portions and super-friendly service round out the experience, which is one not to miss if you’re heading up towards Timmins.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, The Fry Guy, located just outside of Barrie, has been serving up burgers, fries and, yes, poutine for a quarter-century. Their fryer is reserved for fries only, which means folks who are celiac can get an order of fries and not worry about gluten contamination from other items containing gluten, like their chicken fingers.
Smokin’ Hot started out as a fry truck in Huntsville, Ont., and has since evolved into a full-on seasonal barbecue spot serving up smoky brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and other barbecue favourites. Poutine, though, has been with them from the beginning, smothered in homemade brown gravy. For the winter barbecue lovers, they’re offering vacuum-packed mains.
There’s a whole pile of poutines available at On the Locks, starting with the classic gravy-and-cheese-curds and ending with a poutine that combines the traditional ingredients with steak, blue cheese, and green onions, plus a ton of options in between. And just so everyone can join in the fun, there are gluten-free and vegan options available.
Maybe the largest poutine menu on this list belongs to Charlie D’s, with an impressive line-up of 16 dishes that include the Valley Hunter (topped with elk), the Polska (fried onions, bacon, and perogies) and the Algonquin (black beans, kidney beans, and corn).