When it comes to being Canadian, peameal bacon is right up there with hockey, moose, and politeness. Originating in Toronto, this delicious dish is made from cured boneless pork loin that is rolled in ground yellow cornmeal (formerly, it was rolled in ground yellow peas – hence the name) and grilled. Crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, it rounds off to a nice finish with a sweet and salty flavor, thanks to being pickled in brine. If you’re a visitor to Toronto, this is a must-try dish. And if you live here and haven’t tried it yet, your national allegiance may be in question. Here are our picks for Toronto’s best versions of this Canadian delight:
Stroll through the historic St. Lawrence Market, where the hustle and bustle of crowds and the sweet and savory aromas of more than 100 different vendors will vie for your attention. You’ll pass neon lights, red meat, fresh seafood, and more, but don’t get distracted from your mission of finding Carousel Bakery. You’ll know it by the savory scent of fried bacon wafting from its stall. A list of the best places to try peameal bacon would be remiss to leave out this legendary, family-owned establishment, home to an award-winning peameal bacon sandwich. Peameal purists–yes, they’re out there–rejoice at its no-frills rendition, a simple bun stuffed with thick-cut bacon, griddled to golden perfection. Be sure to top it off with Carousel Bakery’s famous honey mustard sauce, and snap a selfie before your fingers get too sticky.
Another strong contender, also located in St. Lawrence Market, Paddington’s Pump does peameal a little differently. They take thinly sliced bacon and cook it in a blend of garlic and spices for extra flavor, and then serve it inside a crusty Kaiser roll with pickles and tomato on the side. As the only full-service, sit-down restaurant in the market, Paddington’s is the perfect place to pull up a chair on the patio for a view of Market Street and the towering buildings beyond.
Lisa Marie’s peameal is as decadent as they come. An ambitious dish that aims to cram an entire brunch into one burger, “The Peameal, Eh?” has cheddar, fried green tomatoes, caramelized onions, and a fried egg. Take on this glorious monstrosity with crisp, refreshing pad Thai fries or fabulously greasy duck fat home fries.
The Lakeview Restaurant
If a peameal craving strikes at the end of a pub crawl, head on over to The Lakeview Restaurant, which is open 24 hours. Sink your teeth into the Lakeview burger: a hearty serving of peameal bacon topped with melted cheddar, grilled portobello, and onion rings, and served with a side of fresh-cut fries and field greens. Or if you’ve got a hankering for breakfast, try the “standard breakfast,” with two eggs, bread, house potatoes, field greens, fresh fruit – and be sure to ask for peameal bacon as your meat of choice.
So whether you’re looking for a simple sandwich or a decadent dish, peameal bacon is served in many forms, and the best course of action is to get around and try all of them.