Eat Here: Olympus Burger
Craving a juicy burger and crispy fries? Head to Port Hope to try the food of the gods.
Open for seven years, this is the epicentre of the Northumberland burger scene. The burger gods are big fans of owner George Kallonakis’s Olympus Burger—so much, in fact, that a popular foodie television show selected the Port Hope, Ont., eatery as a must-visit burger destination. Trip Advisor and even Canadian Living magazine have sung its praises (the latter dubbing it the best burger in Canada). There are about a dozen burgers to choose from (beef patties are six ounces and made fresh and in-house; they also offer chicken, lamb and salmon), as well as another dozen on a “secret menu” found online. The Apollo is a work of art—it’s a fresh beef patty with fried egg and peameal between two grilled aged-white-cheddar-cheese sandwiches, topped with tomato and lettuce. But the Achilles, now that’s more our speed—a beef patty with saganaki cheese, roasted red peppers, Olympus olive oil and herb aioli, tomato and lettuce.
George’s family has been in the restaurant business—owning and operating their own establishments—for more than 30 years. “From a young age I was always involved in helping them and learning the ins and outs of the restaurant industry. The nature of being of Greek heritage,” he says. The idea for a burger joint came after a sour experience at a popular Toronto-based chain. It was 2010 and George, who graduated with a science degree, was pursuing a career as a pharmaceutical consultant—burgers weren’t on the front burner. “We went for lunch on Yonge Street. It was this chain’s first location at the time and people had been raving about their burgers. After waiting for 35 minutes and rushing back to the office rather disappointed, I found myself agitated.” Thinking about the experience snowballed—he discussed his idea with his parents and when a closed-down restaurant went up for sale in Port Hope, he quit his gig and opened Olympus Burger.
“I knew I didn’t want to just paint the walls yellow and offer the common burger and cheeseburger menu—that’s where my Greek roots and my upbringing on Greek mythology and history impacted the theme,” George says.
The menu is based on Greek gods and their “powers.” Zeus, the king of the gods, was chosen to be the most-dressed burger—it’s a beef patty with peameal, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, aged white cheddar, Olympus barbecue sauce, lettuce and tomato. “Hades is the god of the underworld, hence the spice (jalapenos and chipotle-bacon sauce). Apollo is the god of the sun so there’s a fried egg on it. Poseidon, the god of the sea, is our salmon burger, etc. And where did the gods live? Mount Olympus.”
Fans and those of us who like to check out the menu before visiting know about the “secret menu,” only found online. There are plenty more unique burgers on this one, including some topped with onion rings and peanut butter. “We did lots of research and many different burger restaurants were sampled over the nine months my dad and I spent testing in the kitchen. That led to our current menu,” he says. “We found many burger places would not season their patties and relied on the toppings to ‘make’ the burger; however, we wanted our patties to have a distinct flavour and let the toppings complement the beef.” Olympus Burger seasons their patties with eight ingredients and everything is made fresh in-house throughout the day.
Folks flock to Olympus Burger for the Zeus and Apollo—those are the top two favourites—but George’s pick is the Ares, which has a peppercorn beef patty, crispy bacon, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, Olympus barbecue sauce, lettuce and tomato.
Four years ago, George was contacted by Food Network Canada’s You Gotta Eat Here, hosted by Canadian comedian John Catucci—the show wanted to feature Olympus Burger. “After our episode aired in September 2016, Olympus Burger was drawing people who were travelling from all over Ontario and even the US to try our burgers. In 2017 I received an email from Canadian Living magazine saying that we had been voted best burger in Canada—it was unbelievable. Lineups started forming even before we opened that summer; working 17-hour days was the norm for me and my father,” says George. “I felt overwhelmed at first, but it felt like my hard work was being rewarded.”
55 Mill St. S.
Port Hope, Ont.