Founded in 2011 in Greater Boston, Wahlburgers is a casual restaurant chain co-owned by brothers Paul, Mark and Donnie Wahlberg. One of nine siblings, Paul is a celebrated chef who cooked at various Boston-area restaurants before opening his own eponymous burger bar. Spurred on by his brothers, he soon expanded his burger bar into a chain, which is currently the focus of the A&E reality TV show, Wahlburgers. Now, with well over 20 Wahlburgers restaurants across North America, including two in Toronto, Paul is really cooking.
It’s about the food, not the fame.
“Everyone thinks it’s about glitz and glamour and the crazy family, but the biggest thing for us is making our guests feel genuinely welcome. My goal is to combine deliciously creative dishes with memorable customer service.”
Most of the food is made in-house.
“We make as much as we can from scratch in-house, including our pickles and the sauces, [except] the ketchup, because everyone wants Heinz. The buns are made by Hearth Artisanal Bread in Plymouth from our recipe.”
His favourite menu item is The Our Burger.
“[1/3 lb. beef, American ‘government’ cheese, housemade pickles, signature wahl sauce, lettuce, onions, tomato]. It’s everything a burger should be.”
His inspiration for the menu is always changing.
“It’s always different. I may taste an ingredient I haven’t tried before and think, ‘This would be great with X and Y.’ Or it might be the time of year—in the fall, I can’t wait to cook with pumpkins and squash.”
They’re expanding in Canada.
“Canada is the next step. I love going to Toronto during the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s very cosmopolitan and a great food town.”
Editor’s note: Since this story was published, Wahlburgers has opened two locations in Toronto.
Mark and Donnie Wahlberg are very involved.
“Mark especially. They both have their ideas and opinions. And if they don’t like something, I hear about it.”
Mark and Donnie Wahlberg sometimes cook.
“I’ve seen Donnie cook a little, and Mark likes to take on the grill on Sundays for his kids.”
Paul Wahlberg’s favourite Boston-area restaurants
At this Scituate-based bistro, East Coast faves meet Mediterranean influences. “Chef Robin King sends out small dishes for me to sample,” Paul says. “It makes me feel so welcome.”
Located in Quincy, Boston’s southern suburb, this Japanese restaurant serves up maki, nigiri, noodles and more. “Any place that has sushi is always fun for me,” Paul says.
This Spanish tapas spot in Boston’s South End, created by celebrated chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, features Barcelona-inspired small plates such as garlic shrimp and seared octopus. “Whatever they have on special, I’m getting that. I love the creativity of the dishes!”
[This story appears in the February 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine and has since been updated.]
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