416 Snack Bar

I’m going to tell you something I probably shouldn’t. It’s not something I’m proud of, and it’s certainly not something any respectable foodie would go blabbing about on their amateur blog on the Internets. But I’m only human, and we’re all friends here, and for the sake of this particular restaurant review, I gotta come clean:

I am a McDonalds-aholic.

Since I was one of those freakshow kids who worked on sets for most of my childhood (some would say prodigy, some being me), there’s a somewhat short list of things that take me back to being a kid again. Playing Super Mario 3 with the old-school Nintendo controller with chocolate stuck between the buttons, sleeping in my Joey McIntyre/New Kids On The Block sleeping bag, watching Punky Brewster, reciting soliloquies in my study over a glass of sherry… You get the idea. But nothing brings me back more than the sweet, tangy, disgusting taste of a McDonald’s happy meal. It was my treat after a hard day, something my dad and I shared in secret on the car ride home after school before a “healthy dinner” with Mom. It became the ultimate comfort food for me, and right up until my mid-20’s, it was my go-to stop for just about any ailment: stress, hangovers, the blues, hangovers, etc. A Big Mac and fries with a side of McChicken sauce (that’s “mayo” in McDonald’s speak) was just about my favorite meal.

And then I read a little book called Fast Food Nation. And did my own research on fast food corporations and what it was exactly I was ingesting on a weekly basis, and I made the mature decision to quit eating fast food altogether. I lost weight, my headaches went away, and most importantly, that all-too-familiar feeling of wanting to vomit up the sawdust sitting in my stomach was gone. But my cravings never left. And to this day, every time I walk past a McDonalds, it takes every bit of willpower I have not to run in there and go all Hamburgler on their ass.

But lo and behold!  Toronto, the latest city of my employment, has a magical little restaurant that makes its very own almost-like-the-real-thing mini Big Macs! With the sauce and the little pickles and the baby bits of onion and everything! It’s called 416 Snack Bar. Or my second home.

Tucked away on Bathhurst, 416 Snack Bar is a tiny little place specializing in all things snacky, meaning no cutlery allowed. If that isn’t enough to woo you, it’s also got a sexy hipster bar type of vibe, which means the place is packed full of pretty young things who aren’t afraid to get their hands messy. It’s dark, it’s a wee bit dingy, and the food cranking out of that minuscule kitchen is just about the best. Some of my favorite offerings:

An Heirloom Tomato Tart with fresh basil, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar
A "Scotch Egg Benny", drizzled with hollandaise and deep fried
INSANELY DELICIOUS Steamed Buns, with your choice of fish, pork, or veg (choose pork, you fools!)
honest-to-goodness real live 'Smores

And, the piece de resistance…..

Mini Big Macs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They also have other treats like a daily “grilled thing” (it was quail the last time I went– cute little birds are the tastiest!), lovely fried zucchini flowers, and even a salad for your weird healthy friends. The only thing to skip would be the “Devils on Horseback”, a strange little bacon and date thingamajig that just wasn’t up to par. But who cares when the rest of the offerings are that glorious?!

Word to the wise: order your own Mini Mac. And if I’m around, keep it close, my friends.

Also: Joey McIntyre? I still love you.

 

22 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael B says:

    Awesome food critic you are! like reading your thoughts keep em coming…

  2. Tarisa says:

    Oh my goodness it’s killing me that you’re blogging about all these places around my neighbourhood, but I’m not moving back there till tomorrow!
    I will try and get my friends over there at some point… how were the prices?

  3. Curt says:

    Dear lord how I concur. I KNOW that Smack-D’s is the devil, but my white trash up bringin’ just draws me in! Though the real killer is the filet-o-fish or as I like to call it the McFish. The workers always correct me, and also when i ask for Potato McNuggets which apparently they do not have. In anycase I am going to bug these people for the healthy methadone-eske substitute to the big mac, and cross my fingers that it does the job. Nostalgia is the root of all evil btw.

  4. Rob Heittman says:

    Great tip! I love Big Macs and I cannot lie … also, though, swore off them some time ago for the same reasons. Also, I love food tips for Toronto. I’m so excited you’re keeping up with this blog in such a great location!

  5. Russ V says:

    Love all these Toronto food write ups, as I’ll be going there for the film festival! And like what was written above, keep em coming..

  6. Rachael says:

    *jaw drop* I was in Toronto back in June and totally missed this! I ate out every night for two weeks at missed this! Ugggh shame on me.
    If you haven’t, try Guu and Polonez Cafe – along with Portuguese pastries from a Portuguese bakery.

  7. Timothy Beentjes says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I used to work at the McDonalds. Once you are addicted you can not get off the burgers.

  8. maryclev says:

    You know what I don’t like about Big Macs? The way they always slide around while you’re trying to eat them. The meat goes one way–the bread goes the other. BAH!

  9. Astin says:

    Sounds great! Except, um. Bathurst and Spadina are parallel and run N/S. So what us it north of?

  10. Christina says:

    Thanks for a great article and a place that I’ll have to visit. The food looks AMAZING!

  11. Heather says:

    You make me want to move to Toronto! I am visiting LA in a month and have my list of restaurants ready to go.

  12. Kristi says:

    The only problem with reading your blog is that I live across the country from TO and can’t rush out to try the fantastic looking foods you share (like this tasty looking gem).

  13. Tom says:

    I shouldn’t have read this. Eating healthy is hard. Now I’m sooo hungry for snacky food.

  14. Andrew says:

    @Astin — north of Queen St W

  15. DCraigT says:

    Joe Mallozzi is working in Toronto. You Should get together.

  16. Astin says:

    Went to 416 last night. Very tasty indeed! Decent beer and wine selection as well, and good little spot for people watching.

    Favourites were the Scotch Egg Benny and Kentucky Fried Quail. Mini Mac was a very good burger. I couldn’t quite place one of the flavours in the pork bun, but it was distractingly strong…

    If you’re ever in Montreal and want an amazing slider – Patati Patata at St. Laurent and Rachel is a greasy corner diner with no space and AMAZING mini burgers (good poutine too).

  17. Baconhound says:

    Mini Mac’s? Hmmm, Sounds like a winner to me. In fact, I’m not sure why I never put Thousand Island- oops, I mean Mac Sauce- on my burgers at home. It’s good.

    My wife and I swore off fast food after reading Fast Food Nation also. I cheat occasionally with a McChicken, or as I call it: the McSalt. I immediately get “addicts remorse” though. (and need 2L of water)

  18. awhh says:

    We live in a sad, sad world where processed food is cheaper than healthy food.
    Where cows never see a spit of grass and eat corn.
    Where our Supply Chain for food is global instead of local.
    But I truly believe in people getting more aware thanks to the internet.
    So you just keep on writing your mind my dear, for it is just…and makes me hungry with delight.

  19. Larry Swain says:

    For me it was never the burgers, it was those fries!!!! I’m making a note of these restaurants to visit on my next Toronto visit.

  20. Aamazing – can’t wait to hit up the Toronto film fest now and check out all these amazing restaurants! Thank god for Jewel’s recommendations otherwise id be up the creek with only a mcdonalds in sight.

  21. Melanie says:

    I, too, swore off Mickey D’s long ago for the same reasons. I, too, had the same cravings. Fortunately for me, the last time I had McDonalds (“Never turn down free food” – the college student’s mantra), all those childhood memories went away. For the first time, I could taste it for what it really was. Now I can’t stand the smell of the place from a distance.

    If only I could do the same with Burger King, Arby’s, Wendy’s… etc…… For now, I’m stuck with only my personal willpower.

  22. Richard says:

    “(it was quail the last time I went– cute little birds are the tastiest!)”

    Reading that line just made my day.

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