In October, 2016, Buffalo, NY’s, famous Anchor Bar, pioneer of the chicken wing, launched on Toronto’s Airport Strip.
By all reports, the Toronto location is flourishing, and after a recent visit, it’s easy to see why. Anchor Bar Toronto dishes up first-rate Buffalo-style pub grub.
We order wings, of course, and opt for extra crispy, with two sauces: spicy barbecue and maple honey garlic. The drumettes are tender and super-plump, and the flats are meatier than most. These are the best wings I’ve had at either of the Toronto and original Buffalo Anchor Bar locations.
But Anchor Bar Toronto is no one-trick pony, and does many things well besides wings.
Scented with Cajun spice rub, chicken tenders are sheathed in a shatteringly crunchy exterior cloaking moist meat. This is the best version of this pub grub staple that I’ve had anywhere, and on its own, warrants a return visit.
Chipotle barbecue sauce moistens a rack of meaty ribs. Baked Buffalo dip is made with diced chicken, Anchor Bar’s blue cheese and cream cheese, and jazzed with the restaurant’s signature medium sauce. It’s rich and silky smooth, and zapped with an irresistible tang. Scooped up with tortilla chips or feather-light, house-made parmesan dough boys, it’s a crowd-pleasing appetizer and a must-try for any pub-grub connoisseur.
There’s even a pizza topped with Anchor Bar’s signature chicken wing components augmented by a generous drizzle of barbecue sauce, all piled onto a thin, sturdy crust.
To end the meal, Anchor Bar Toronto offers a selection of no-nonsense desserts: cheesecake, courtesy of Cheesecake Factory, and an in-house creation, a large chocolate chip cookie — not too sweet, and served warm — served in a cast iron pan and topped with a sizeable scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The cheesecakes are fine, too, and include a version drizzled with dulce de leche and another, studded with Reese’s Pieces and chocolate, that delivers a deep peanut butter hit.
In lockstep with the bar-food menu is a casual, comfortable and welcoming space outfitted with hardwood floors, bare-wood tables, red padded booths, big-screen TVs and a stone-oven pizza oven that dispenses pies at a steady clip. Early on a weeknight, the restaurant draws a boisterous after-work crowd.
Available for corporate buyout, Anchor Bar Toronto accommodates 175 people, seated and 260, cocktail-style (in the warm weather, a patio seats an additional 50). A semi-private second-floor space seats 40.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,500 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.