Sauces and condiments make everything in life a little better. A simple hot dog will taste much better with its friends, ketchup and mustard. And what is a chip without salsa? We’ve put together a list of the best homemade sauces and condiments in the city, from tomato sauce to something named after a campy 80s cartoon. These are perfect for spreading on sandwiches, dipping fries into, or just slathering on whatever you’ve got in front of you.
Burger’s Priest Secret Sauce
Where: multiple locations
In a city of burgers, there is undoubtedly going to be burger sauce aplenty. But this slightly tangy, completely fantastic version takes the cake, er, burger. The sauce is probably just a combination of mayo, relish and mustard with a few other things, but it’s just way too good to pass up. A nice helping of this secret sauce goes great on a Vatican City (two patties between two grilled cheese sandwiches). Just remember to bring an ample supply of napkins to the table.
Banh Mi Boys Luck Sauce
Where: 392 Queen Street West
This Vietnamese sandwich shop serves up an addictive sauce on their pork belly bahn-mi offerings. With a combination of vinegar, reduced pork drippings, hoisin and a bit of sugar, the umami on this sauce is out of control. Go from tangy to sweet to savory and then finally let that sriracha kick you in the back of the mouth with a bit of heat. Mix it with the crunch of fresh carrot and daikon radish and you’ve got a winning combination.
The Entire Salsa Bar at Wilbur Mexicana
Where: 552 King Street West
Okay this might be cheating but the seven (!!!) unique salsas at this King West taqueria could almost each make the list individually, so it’s best you just go grab seven tacos and try each one. There’s classics like the super fresh pico de gallo and a smooth salsa verde, but look for the perfect-with-fish pineapple salsa or the fiery options like ghost pepper or habanero. Watch the kitchen staff make them fresh in front of your eyes, grab a cup (or seven) and weep when you finish your meal because you don’t have a salsa bar in your kitchen at home.
California Sandwiches Tomato Sauce
Where: multiple locations
Is it a basic red sauce? Is it incredibly addictive? Is it wonderful when it’s smothered over everything from chicken to eggplant? The answer is yes. This well-known Toronto franchise serves up classic Italian eats with some of the best no-nonsense sauce in the city. Freshly cut and reduced tomatoes absorb just a bit of seasoning and leave you with a not-too-acidic sauce, perfect for a massive sandwich and a nap after lunch. Sometimes simple can be great.
The Mustard at Caplansky’s Deli
Where: 356 College Street
A list of best condiments and sauces without the house-made mustards from Toronto’s maestro of smoked meat is a list incomplete. There are a couple options to try with your meat on rye masterpieces here, but it’s hard to stray away from the classic yellow ballpark and the deceptively warm “Hot-N-Horseradishy” variant. Caplansky’s offers the best smoked meat this side of Montreal, and sometimes all you need is a classic sharp yellow mustard to cut the beef’s richness and add fuel to the lifelong mystery of “how can three simple things be so damn mouthwatering!?”
Voltron Sauce at La Carnita
Where: multiple locations
At this definitive spot (with four locations around the city), Voltron sauce is the star of the “In Cod We Trust” taco. The sauce is named after an 80’s cartoon, though the head chef seems to have been inspired more from Wu-Tang references rather than the show. Either way, this region-fusing sauce offers inspirations from Asian and Mexican cuisines, using premium soy sauce for a base while adding cilantro and spices for depth. It’s salty and savory and it works perfectly with the fried fish and crunchy apple and cabbage. It will have taco fans and 90s hip-hop heads alike singing “Enter The Vol-tron.”
Truffle Sauce at Porchetta. Co.
Where: 825 Dundas Street West
Including a sauce made from one of the most expensive ingredients in the culinary world is a no-brainer, and Porchetta Co. executes it perfectly. Pick up the classic namesake sandwich with cracklin’ and splurge an extra 75 cents for the truffle sauce and 95 cents for Parmesan. Don’t add anything else though – the hot sauce or mustard can overpower the delicate truffle flavor. The earthiness and distinctive taste of the truffle works flawlessly with the richness of the porchetta. This sauce is a great fix for those looking for truffle flavor without dropping hundreds on one for their own pantry at home.
Texas-style BBQ Sauce at Barque Smokehouse
Where: 299 Roncesvalles Avenue
There is so much amazing barbeque in Toronto it’s hard to pick one sauce to include, but this classic variety from the Roncesvalles meatery is too good to pass up. Starting with a ketchup base, tangy sweet and smoky flavors build up and become a full on assault of your taste buds — in the best way possible. Great BBQ is messy, but you’re not going to want to lose a single drop of this. Get it with ribs and you’ll never look back.
Donair Sauce at College Falafel
Where: 450 Ossington Avenue
If you want the real deal you may have to take a trip to Canada’s east coast, but this version at College and Ossington will do in a pinch. Donair is ground beef or lamb (or both) shaved into a pita with a few choice veggies and sauces. Donair sauce isn’t very savory as it usually begins with sweetened condensed milk, but the pinch of acidity from the added white vinegar cuts through the richness of the spiced meat well. Add a bit of hot sauce and you have an amazing combination that hits every spot on your tongue.
Maple-Rosemary Mayo at WVRST
Where: 609 King Street West
WVRST has won best fries in the city for three straight years, and every good fry needs a good dip to accompany it. That’s where this aromatic maple-rosemary mayo-based dip comes in. It’s sweet, but not too overpowering as many maple-based foods can be. There is a great savory balance with the subtle pine flavor of the rosemary, all rounded off by the creaminess of the mayo. Get an order for your fries, but live a little and spread that bad boy on WVRST’s signature sausage in a bun. Maybe even get downright courageous and try their weird-but-tasty maple-rosemary soft serve ice cream.
Feature photo courtesy The Burger’s Priest via Facebook.