Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Who you callin' fat?

Bigger is better when it comes to our favourite Winnipeg-style burgers

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The tomato-stained, mustard-drenched envelope, please...Since June, this space has asked readers to vote for the primo fat boy-style burger in town. That's because for almost 60 years, Winnipeg has been the undisputed home of the fat boy, a fact backed up by no less an authority than the Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com), which defines the banquet-in-a-bun as:

"A large hamburger generally found in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It consists of a hamburger patty, chili, quartered dill pickle, onions, mustard and a lot of mayonnaise. Usually the burger is too tall to fit in your mouth so you eat it by squeezing or using a fork, or both."

Well, folks, the ballots (burp) have been counted and the winner is...

"My boyfriend and I LOVE the White Top Drive-In. Theirs is the best fat boy in the city!"

-- Andrea and Jordan

"By far -- the White Top Drive-In on Salter and Manitoba. Get one before they raise the price!" -- Barry Mitenko

"As a bit of a connoisseur of the fat boy, I have to list my top three as: 1. White Top; 2. VJs; 3. Super Boy's."

-- Bren R.

"To hear comments like that puts a smile on my face," says Demos Louizos, the son of White Top owners Peter and Helen Louizos, after being informed that dozens of Winnipeggers e-mailed us in support of the White Top's signature sandwich.

"Especially because we're not on a main artery -- we don't have that curb appeal that somebody on, say, Portage Avenue or Main Street does. But we do the best we can with our little corner; people tell us all the time that we're a bit of a North End institution and we're very proud of that."

(Longtime loyalists still refer to the distinctive red-and-white-striped building at 409 Manitoba Ave. as the "White Spot": A lawsuit filed by a like-named B.C. chain forced the Louizos family to switch monikers earlier this decade, despite the fact that Winnipeg's White Spot came first.)

The White Top fat boy consists of cheese, lettuce, mayo, chili, mustard, onions, pickles and tomatoes on a toasted bun ($3.60; add 95 cents for a second patty).

That so many people recommended the 36-year-old locale -- arguably this city's first drive-through restaurant -- is a testament to Peter Louizos, his son says.

"In all our years here, my dad has never, ever let a child go home without at least an ice cream cone," he says. "We get customers at the window nowadays who tell us, 'When I was little, your father used to give me free fries or a free burger -- so now I come back with my own kids.'"

'Old school' is the best way to describe his father, Demos adds. At age 65, Peter still pulls 12-hour days, seven days a week.

"In my opinion, the common denominator at these burger places -- whether they're in the North End or St. Boniface or wherever -- is that they all have one individual there who's like my father. Someone who's unselfish, who's giving... someone who's doing what he can for his community, day in, day out.

"And I think there's something to be said for that. Not to take away from the corporate chains or anything but I truly believe Winnipeggers are sensitive and appreciate these types of establishments."

Beef... and bouquets

"I've had good fat boys and I've had not-so-good fat boys," says Demos Louizos. "But the one thing I've learned from travelling across Canada is that, just like how Montreal is famous for its smoked meat, Winnipeg is known for its hamburgers."

Given that, we thought we'd be remiss if we didn't feature as many fat boys as could fit on one page. Here's a smattering of what readers had to say about their own favourite burger bars around town.

"Best fat boy-style burgers in town? Mrs. Mike's on Tach © Avenue, hands down!

A St. Boniface institution. Have a King Burger for a mid-afternoon lunch and there will be no need to eat anything else SSRqtil the next morning!"

-- Claude Grimard

"After spending 11 years living in northern Manitoba, whenever we ventured to "the south" (Winnipeg), we always made sure to visit our favourite place for fat boys: the Dairi Wip on Marion. My husband and I have been visiting the "Wip" since we were teenagers (and) now with teenagers in tow, it's still our favourite place for a fat boy and fries."

-- Debbie Regehr

"The absolute best fat boy-style burger in Winnipeg can be found at Super Boy's at Main and Lansdowne. The delicious combination of mayonnaise, chili, lettuce and tomato creates a heavenly sauce that keeps escaping through your fingers as you try to get your mouth around the two buns! You need to have at least five napkins on hand to finish it off."

-- Carol Gonzalez

"My two cents is that I like the fat boy from George's Burgers and Subs, Portage and Evanson. The burger patty is firm, the chili is spicy, and you can actually pick up the burger. (Why do people think that sloppy equals TASTY?) All that and the lady behind the counter always remembers us and tells us we should eat more.

"Blondie's on Main Street is also quite good."

-- Alison Froese

"I would like to suggest Dairy Delight on St. Anne's for having the best fat boy burger in the city. It almost feels illegal to be eating it, it's that good. It might be the chili or the meat itself, but it is simply incredible."

-- Graham Bodnar

"My husband and I live in Birds Hill and we love to go to Daly Burger (619 Corydon Ave.) for the fat boy there. Every birthday, he asks me where I want to go for dinner and I say, 'Daly Burger.'"

-- J. Shawcross

"The fave burger for our family is from the Burger Place, a little dive on Portage Avenue directly across from St. James Collegiate. It's got it all: cheese, bacon, chili, lettuce, tomato, mayo, onion and pickles."

-- Denise Fyfe

"I introduced my friend, Terry, to one of my favourite restaurants: George's (Burgers & Subs) at St. Mary's and Bishop Grandin. The owner waited on our table and I told him it was Terry's first time (there). It came out that Terry was quite hungry and was concerned about getting a good-sized burger. George, the owner, replied, 'Don't worry.' What arrived was a triple-pattied, chili-covered burger that Terry could hardly get in his mouth. He finished it out of pride but I almost had to carry him out of the restaurant."

-- Bruce Petterson

david.sanderson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 23, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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