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Posted by Dawn Becker / Reviewed on March 19, 2010 / review policy

chick-n-joyChick-N-Joy has been serving loyal customers in Leslieville since 1977. Family-operated and owned by John Doufekas all these years, Chick-N-Joy is a true pillar in the community. Johnny, as he's known to his regular customers, is a master at his craft, and his craft just happens to be some darn good fried chicken.

Chick-N-Joy used to offer "Famous Hamburgers" as they were known, as well as fish 'n chips - but a few years ago, Johnny suffered a heart attack. In an attempt to cut back on some of the work, he reduced the menu to focus on fried chicken. How much he's cut back I'd like to know; Johnny's day starts regularly at 5:30 in the morning and runs till 6:00 at night, and has for more than 30 years. And people still come in asking for a Famous Hamburger.

It all starts with quality products and Johnny likes everything fresh and made by hand...usually his. If it's not him, it's likely to be his son, Bill, who's at the helm in the kitchen after 6:00 p.m. and on weekends with his sister at the counter. Maple Leaf delivers fresh, never frozen, chicken pieces every second day.

chick-n-joyEvery night, Johnny's helper comes in at 9:00 p.m. and works for three hours to peel and cut potatoes for their signature fries. Each potato is inspected by hand to remove any dark spots or eyes, and these fries are a benchmark for fresh-cut.

chick-n-joy friesWhen I asked Johnny why he never expanded, opening other Chick-N-Joy restaurants, with accented conviction, he said, "Why not grow? Quality. With three, four stores, you start buying frozen. Frozen no!"

There are many types of country fried chicken recipes and the Chick-N-Joy chicken is not the soaked in buttermilk, heavily battered, deep south version. I'd call this more of a commercial style of fried chicken akin to one of those other franchise places with the colonel or sailor. Theirs is lightly dusted so the crust is thinner and crispy in parts and the meat is succulent probably from pressure cooking which locks in the juices.

chick-n-joyOn one occasion, I order their regular lunch special consisting of 2-piece with fries and a pop ($4.95). It's definitely a multiple napkin occasion as juices drip down my chin when I bite into a thigh piece. The white meat is similarly tender but not my preference. They don't supply wet-napkins but I know to bring my own now. Another time for a group, I might order the 9-piece meal deal, which includes large fries, salad, and a large gravy ($19.99).

chick-n-joyChick-N-Joy offers several salad choices, all made on premises. I like the coleslaw because it has the right combination of sweet to sour. It has a nice crunchy cabbage flavour and serves as as a palate cleanser between bites of chicken. Chick-N-Joy also offers potato salad, mixed bean salad and even hot sauce, again made by Johnny.

chick-n-joy gravyThe biggest point of contention is the bright yellow chicken gravy. Not out of a can as one might presume when looking at the colour, this gravy is the real deal. Made with corn flour, which gives it a neon yellow glow, the gravy is made two or three times a day depending on demand. It's what many of the regulars - some of whom have been eating at Chick-N-Joy for the full 33 years - are addicted to. And there's good reason why. The gravy is delicious. It's not overly salted and it has a strong chicken base.

"Two days ago, I have a sign that says the gravy is changed for a few days. I run out of corn flour so I have to substitute. One customer comes in, sees the sign and says 'What, no gravy? No chicken,' and he walks out," Johnny laughs as he recalls this. That's gravy loyalty. But he'll be back, when the yellow chicken gravy is ready.

chick-n-joyLast year, Chick-N-Joy renovated and the money was well spent. They closed for about five weeks and many people thought they had closed for good, despite the signs indicating a renovation. I'm glad that was just a rumour. For me, Chick-N-Joy really was "love at first bite."

Monday to Saturday 11AM to 8PM
Sunday 12PM to 6PM

Writing and photography by Dawn Becker.



SJDC / March 19, 2010 at 09:54 am
I used to live around the corner from this amazing place, the staff are great, and they definitely have some of the best country style fried chicken in the city, it's definitely worth a quick ride East on the Queen Streetcar !!
jlt / March 19, 2010 at 10:24 am
WOW! i had no idea there was one of these downtown!!

John / March 19, 2010 at 10:28 am
And, they frequently have free giveaways: FREE air guitars!!

I've yet to stop in here and pass it frequently. I will definitely stop in there now.

Thanks for the review!
mikeb / March 19, 2010 at 10:33 am
"Why not grow? Quality. With three, four stores, you start buying frozen. Frozen no!"

Is he not somehow related to the 2 Chick n Joys on Kingston Road and the one in Whitby?
:rüps: / March 19, 2010 at 10:39 am
I too wonder if there's any connection to the 2 Chick N Joy's on Kingston Road in Scarborough and Pickering. I have been going to the location on Kingston Road since the early 90's when the location was initially at a strip mall at Markham and Eglinton Road East.
I have yet to go to the Leslievile location but by the looks of it the quality is the same with the only difference being that the Scarborough and Pickering locations use a darker gravy, which I'm guessing is beef gravy, and they use a chain style packaging compared to this locations generic kind.
I will have to drop by and make a comparison.
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm fried chicken!
LJ / March 19, 2010 at 11:55 am
yummy, thanks and great pics
will visit this weekend
Collin / March 19, 2010 at 12:16 pm
do you guys know how well their chicken travel...i wouldn't mind stopping by for some take out for dinner, but i live in king west...

i drive, so the travel time is minimal.
Beeeyooootch / March 19, 2010 at 12:57 pm
Logo looks like Mary Brown's pissed off sister.
Jordan replying to a comment from Beeeyooootch / March 19, 2010 at 02:07 pm
nice, that was good
Andrew / March 19, 2010 at 06:44 pm
Awesome. I've been dying to find a good fried chicken place.

Are there any more? Enough to warrant a "Best of"? Cause then I'd just shoot myself.
Miriam / March 19, 2010 at 10:02 pm
Oh my gosh that chicken is looking fresh, I am drooling. :)
Brad / March 20, 2010 at 01:05 am
The Kingston Rd location is run by US burger chain Jack in the Box
Dawn Becker / March 20, 2010 at 05:00 am
Definitely this location is independent of the others. You can ask Johnny for the convoluted details but he's running this place on his own. And the best way to travel with their take out is to make sure you open the box that has the fries. Because they're made to order, the fries can steam in transport and become soggy. Open the box and you'll still have relatively crispy fries when you get home.
LY / March 22, 2010 at 01:16 am
i remember going to this place almost everyday for two years when i went to duke. good old days! tried almost everything that was on the menu. they did had pretty good burgers. Havent been there since. I might actually go back and bring back some good memories.
chick-n-joy-lover / March 26, 2010 at 04:13 pm
the location mentioned above is the only one of it's kind in the GTA....the other 2 are separately owned, and totally different. definitely worth the trip to try. make sure you get the yellow gravy (the guy mentioned above who walked out because there was no yellow gravy is a friend of mine lol)
Fizzle / January 31, 2011 at 02:40 pm
Love this place...best chicken in town...handsdown!
Debsa / February 17, 2011 at 09:53 pm
Super yummy fries and chicken...
Harleen Singh Arneja / February 25, 2011 at 11:40 pm
It's a bit too salty. Better than KFC though!
powell / March 16, 2011 at 05:05 pm
Grab the family combo, call 6 friends, and meet up at Ashbridge's Bay for amazing picnic!
kingaddi / June 24, 2011 at 09:29 am
I know my fried chicken. This is hands down the best fried chicken joint in the GTA. It reminds me of the good old days when kfc was a reputable establishment and sold good quality fried chicken and filled the box up with good potato fries. But this place easily surpasses old school kfc. The fact that they are using fresh chicken makes a huge difference. I can rant on and on but it must be said that John Doufekas is a genius
kay / August 15, 2011 at 05:56 pm
This place is great if you go when the drama queen owner isn't around, but since he's such a rude piece of work I'll never bother myself to go back here again. Learn some manors John, just because you have a business doesn't entitle you to act like a dosuchebag, especially when customers keep the doors open.
lex / December 9, 2011 at 08:02 am
This Chick-N-Joy in downtown is not operated and managed by the owner of Chick-N-Joy in Scarborough and Pickering, I asked them :) I go to the one in KINGSTON ROAD SCARBOROUGH, they have fresher salads and their biscuits are really really goooooooooooooooooood!!! And great service too
Debra / July 5, 2012 at 01:55 pm
Johnny chick n joy on queen st east is the best chicken ever it is fresh and the coleslaw is to die for the staff they are great I am telling you the chicking it the best I love the gravy too
Sam / December 5, 2012 at 02:15 pm
Just finished off a 3 piece dinner...yum!
David / March 1, 2013 at 12:13 pm
Chick-n-Joy's fried chicken is only good because it's fried chicken. In other words, all fried chicken is pretty good. Theirs is nothing special. The staff are rude, the fries are just OK as are the sides. And anyone who thinks the yellow sauce is especially good, simply has no palate for food. This place serves very average fast food.
JonasOfToronto / April 20, 2013 at 11:54 pm
Pretty good chicken, a bit mealy but well-seasoned - and I agree with many comments:
- fries do tend to steam soggy unless box opened
- gravy is nothing special, salads are a bit pre-processed and industrial
- some attitude from the service and the guy doesn't like to listen to requests

There is now a Church's at Dufferin / St. Clair that people swear by as well. For east end Chick'n'Joy is pretty much the go-to.
Deb replying to a comment from JonasOfToronto / October 6, 2013 at 03:12 pm
If you weren't blind, you could've read the sign which explicitly states they don't substitute pieces.

They didn't listen to your request for a good reason: if you were selfish enough to request all white meat, then some other poor sap would be stuck with all dark meat. This place gets their chickens whole and fresh instead of frozen; they don't get an extra allotment of white meat like KFC, nor do they dump all their dark meat on Tuesdays.
Shannyn / October 16, 2013 at 08:56 pm
OMG this is the BEST chicken, fries & gravy combo EVER. I live out in Brampton now and we drive all the way down to eat this amazing meal!!!!
Dennis Glenn replying to a comment from jlt / July 5, 2015 at 01:05 pm
Queen St. E. near Coxwell is not downtown

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