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Restaurants

Dairy Freeze

Posted by Tanja / Reviewed on April 12, 2005 / review policy

Dairy FreezeI don't eat at McDonalds. Not because of Supersize Me, or because of the sketchy characters that frequent it, no, it's not even because I think I'm too cool (or maybe a little from column a & b & c actually.) As a person who generally steers clear of heavy grease, I figure if I'm actually going to have a burger, I'm going to do it right.

That's where the west end, family-run legend, Dairy Freeze, comes in. There is absolutely no place I'd rather clog an artery than at the corner of Caledonia & St. Clair West.

This diner/burger joint/shake place/truck stop has graced the corner since before I can remember. I've been living in the area for 24 years (all of 'em, that's right) and it's barely changed an ounce. Sure, the old cigarette vending machine eventually became "for show only" (and then cleared out), and maybe they've changed a few lightbulbs or started carrying a few new drinks in the fridge, but that's about it.

While other childhood fave's eventually fall into the "it's not the same anymore" category, Dairy Freeze definitely makes 'em like they used to. Did I mention that you can completely customize your burger when it comes to toppings, etc? Even the Harvey's that always tried to hold its ground across the street eventually had to pack up and move out because it couldn't compete. (On a sidenote, I remember watching TV as a kid and seeing the Harvey's commercials promoting how they make your burger your way (customized) and remarking to my mom that they were trying to copy Dairy Freeze. Actually, I don't know the history, but it might even be true. ;) )

All that nostalgia aside, I should point out that they do way more than just burgers... as you'll note from all the signs and lights that scream "steak on a bun" outside. Go ahead and have the steak on a bun, the gyro(yeero), souvlaki on a pita or the banquet burger.

The next, and most important part is the SIDES. The fries are good... no shoelace laced-in-peanut-fat fries like at McD's. These are huge and by law must be eaten with the wooden mini-forks provided. If you are an onion ring fan though, screw the fries. Have the rings. They are pictured above and though pretty greasy, are not to be missed. I'll sometimes go in solely for these home-made goodies. Mmmm mmm AMAZING.

Alright, now I've gone and made myself hungry.

FYI - if you were thinking it's a bit out of the way for you, both the St. Clair streetcar westbound and the Lansdowne 47B bus make a stop here, so there are no excuses. There's even a retro patio out front.

Photo by Rick McGinnis

Discussion

40 Comments

Georgia / April 12, 2005 at 04:33 pm
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You know, I've also lived in the area for most of my life, and I've never been. Found a new place I'd like to try out!
vanou / April 12, 2005 at 04:37 pm
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Well said!
When in Montreal, go to Mister Steer
parkdale / April 12, 2005 at 06:42 pm
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dairy freeze is the tops, open late too, go in when youre drunk and it will surely attack your upcoming hangover. Dang, their burgers would make the hamburgler throw out the golden arches and trade'em in for the FREEZE.
Nole / April 20, 2005 at 10:09 pm
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This place is the BEST...Try the Chicken Breast on a bun with a side order of Ceasar Salad..yummyyy!
Tanja / April 21, 2005 at 12:43 am
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Mmmm Chicken. hehehe. Next time.
camille / June 8, 2005 at 09:52 pm
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You sure do a good job of selling the place. It's always nice to see someone get passionate over onion rings (which do look might tasty, by the way!).
Iain Grant / April 12, 2008 at 02:55 am
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Why does it say Dairy Queen at the top of the article?
Tanja / April 12, 2008 at 04:36 am
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Fixed!
Rob / April 14, 2008 at 04:48 pm
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I live close by, and have been many times, drunk and sober. the burgers aer just thin frozen things, nothing special at all. The steak on a bun is OK. Fries and rings are good too.
peter / June 22, 2008 at 06:59 am
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Dairy Freeze rocks. The burgers are the best because they are delicious along with steak, broiled chicken sandwich. They use real charcoal. If i want a bigger burger then I order a twin burger which better than Apache's, Johnny's at a cheaper price any day. Dairy prices very cheap for an establishment that around over 50 years. Just Rocks!!
Marc / February 12, 2009 at 10:13 am
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Holy moly is this place ever good. My parents grew up in the area and used to tell us about. Now I lvie here myself and just love it. Cheeseburger with lettuce, onion, extra extra pickles, with onion rings...wow.
Carolyn / March 27, 2009 at 11:57 pm
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Hi, I just got on to see if there were anymore Dairy Freezes out there. My dad owned one from the time I was in the 5th grade till a year after I graduated from high school. I really miss it.(and him)
apetimberlake / April 2, 2009 at 01:51 pm
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^^Nice comment :)
JR replying to a comment from Iain Grant / May 8, 2009 at 08:50 pm
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DAIRY "FREEZE" not "queen"!!! Get it right...It's a legend in the west-end...Great late nite after the party, club, festival whatever...
stimpy / October 19, 2009 at 04:09 am
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The food is pretty good there, but it got bought out over a year ago by some asian guy who cheaped out on some of the food like fish and chicken strips that used be homemade and battered there are now purchased pre-breaded processed crap. The one thing I absolutely love there is their Poutine.
Large thick cut fries, lots of Beef gravy and cheese.
Just thinking about it makes you arteries clog.
Most of their other food is as it used to be great.
It's still worth the trip though....
Tanja replying to a comment from stimpy / October 19, 2009 at 01:15 pm
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Pretty sure the original owner Gus still owns it (and works there as he was busy behind the counter this week). I believe the new guy your talkin about is managing.
Dude / June 3, 2010 at 03:40 am
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I usually go 'down the street' to Commisso Rocco's for that veal sandwich - but always go past Dairy Freeze on the way. I'll have to stop by sometime - it's definitely closer to my house then Commisso's.
christa / June 6, 2010 at 02:13 am
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mmmm onion rings, who cares about fries .Im new to toronto and am always up to try new places to eat.
Eddie / July 17, 2010 at 07:57 pm
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The burgers are of the the pre-fab variety (still pretty good) but it's the fries that makes this place a standout. Easily some of the best fries in the city. This place is definitely worth checking out if you're on St. Clair West.
paul / August 19, 2010 at 08:28 pm
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i'am 31 years old and i've been going to the "FREEZE" ever since i had my first tooth. the burgers and steaks are pretty good and both can be ordered on a kaiser, but the main attractions would be the fries with gravy and the onion rings. if you love onion rings as much as i do then try them with the freezes house made steak sauce, i have changed the way dozens of people eat their onion rings at the freeze.
Freeze Geeze / August 20, 2010 at 10:52 am
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My dad first took me to this place when I was 8 years old. He's been going to Dairy Freeze since he was 8 years old. This place is and has always been the same for as long as I remember. Harvey's couldn't hold it's own against it. The BBQ sauce is the best EVER! The gravy for it's fries are INCREDIBLE. I love this place. It's so nostalgic it's not even funny.
vickjoe / April 3, 2011 at 12:28 am
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dairy freeze has been my childhood-favorite diner, hands down! (since they closed the tivoli at st clair and dufferin, at least). "As a person who generally steers clear of heavy grease, I figure if I'm actually going to have a burger, I'm going to do it right" is right! but my favorite is the fish on a bun, or fish n chips.

but i'm about to go buy some onion rings tonight!
Jimmy / August 12, 2011 at 08:05 pm
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After reading these comments/reviews I thought I'd stop by. Wow were they wrong, the place is a dump, the food is overpriced ($15 +tax for a piece of haddock and fries?) the overpriced steak is tasty but so thin in makes beef jerky seem like a 72 ouncer. I watched the guy scrape the old fries off the tray back into the deep frier and serve them to me. Why pay so much for garbage. Never again and I'm questioning the credibility of some of these people.
Frankie / November 1, 2011 at 10:23 pm
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Based on the older reviews, I'd say the original owners are no longer running this shop.The non-smiling asian gentleman who now owns it along with his family, clearly does not understand the business of diners. Since we had driven by this place a few times, we wondered whether this would be that magical old fashioned diner in our neighbourhood. Ended up going for breakfast last saturday....boy it was dissapointing. Nothing like the diner we expected. The onwer gave us a coffee in a styrofoam cup (no refills), styrofoam plates for the breakfast and it was nothing special. We paid our $15 and decided to never go back there again.
TG / December 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm
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I must have missed the boat on this one, I've been there a few times and it was terrible. Just frozen commercial food heated/fried to order.
keri / March 5, 2012 at 01:17 pm
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The best Burgers in my neighbourhood.
Keep up the good work.
Ryan / June 1, 2012 at 05:58 pm
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@Jimmy, let me educate you because you are clearly unaware of how food is prepared. They aren't old fries. Their fries are double fried as they taste better. You fry the fries, let them sit for 15 minutes out of the fryer and then fry again. You were likely turned off because you thought they were terrible before you tasted them thinking that they were old. Also, steak on a bun is supposed to be THIN slices of steak as is done in other fine establishments.

Been there twice so far and I thought it was awesome. One of the best burgers I've ever had. Original review is right, fries are good but if you like onion rings, forget the fries. The onion rings are hand battered, huge and tasty. The same guy was topping burgers on both visits and unlike Harvey's, he pays huge attention to detail, like a true burger artist. Don't like the end slices of pickles? No worries, he avoids those like the plague and always ensures you get the nice middle slices without having to ask.

A combo with a cheeseburger, onion rings and a large drink came out to $10.27 after tax. More expensive than say McDonald's or Harvey's, but cheaper than other places like Hero Burgers. Can't call it cheap, but I wouldn't call it expensive either. With the quality of food, I think it was well worth it. In fact, I think I'll go back for a third visit tonight!
Steph replying to a comment from Jimmy / November 11, 2012 at 06:33 pm
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Dairy Freeze changed owners a couple of years ago. The place just isn't the same anymore. Within a week of the change I was served hand lotion instead of tzaziki sauce. It's too bad- it used to be awesome.
Sandy Moreira / December 29, 2012 at 12:08 am
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Dairy Freeze! ..i loooooovvvve this joint!
I've lived in the area with my family for 23 years and its still my fav place for my siblings and I to just hang out, eat some amazing food - Halibut fish and chips is my favorite- and talk about old times while we crack jokes! For us, its retro. Classic. The place is not a dump. Its old! And rustic and classic...and thats why it has fans.

I for one love vintage. Its got history. It might be a little pricey, but in my opinion, much more worth the money. At least after im done eating, im full for a big chunk of the day! Unlike Mcee deez.or even Harveys! ..ya i remember when Harveys was accross the street (longgg time back) and it is true what they say! Harveys was barely busy at all located next to good ole DF!

....and check this out. Next time there is a festival at Earlscourt, look over to Dairy Freeze for a second. You'll see what busy is!!
Love you Torontoooooo! Love you Dairyyy Freeze!
Xoxo to all my DF buddies!
sandy replying to a comment from Frankie / December 29, 2012 at 01:02 am
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...$15??? Wtf? I never paid that much for one breakfast plate! What the hell did you eat? Lmaooo. Of course if u addddd extras, its going to add up? ....did u order the all-meat bfast? Damnnn! Dont exagerate man..
sandy replying to a comment from Jimmy / December 29, 2012 at 01:09 am
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...fish is expensive anywhere. And if they make it well, well then that might be another reason for the price hike. But mostly, meats and fish are hoing up in price...along with everything else. Economy. Look it up.
Xoxoxo
Steve / February 22, 2013 at 05:42 pm
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I used to love going to a place called Dairy Freeze as a kid in the 70's and early 80's just north of the 401 on Yonge St.It is long gone but it looks very similar. Were they related or is it a coincidence?
Carlos / August 31, 2013 at 03:09 pm
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I heard this place is closing down by mid 2014 (together with the hair salon and the banana delivery cie) for new mid-rise residential/commercial developments.

On the Toronto city website you can read that the city has big projects in mind to re-vamp the north and south west corners of Caledonia and st. Clair.

This change in the neighborhood has been a long time coming and sounds very promising!!
Jennifer / October 10, 2013 at 04:36 am
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A lot of stupid rumours about this place closing down. The food is amazing and the service is top notch with the original ownership taking over from a year ago. There are many burger joints opening and trying to compete with Dairy Freeze's homemade menu but this place remains a cultural institution and part of my greasy diet. I love this place...
Julian replying to a comment from Tanja / October 14, 2013 at 02:10 pm
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Hey Tanja, are you a patron? food critic? or a desperate real estate investor? architecture criticism can secure precious real estate..Dairy Freeze location opened somewhere in the late 50's (in it's era), quickly surged tops, as did its predecessor, Harvey's and McDonald's. The kind of place that you'll probably try once- in fact, you should try it once, however, unless you are bringing in your friends to share in the novelty, the burgers, steaks, and souvlaki's just aren't good enough to make you a repeat customer. This place really isn't about the burger because the burger is average at best- it's about the experience.



Jimmy / November 9, 2013 at 03:19 pm
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The place is finished the Greek owners are gone and now it's just crap
Carlos replying to a comment from Jennifer / November 10, 2013 at 07:47 pm
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these are not rumors. is it closing down for real.

the whole corner north and south is being re-developed. Not sure which developer bought the land but see links below from the city's plans:

http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/ey/bgrd/backgroundfile-54786.pdf
AA / November 22, 2013 at 03:26 pm
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Best Steak Sandwich around
Jennifer replying to a comment from Jimmy / November 24, 2013 at 05:08 am
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The original Greek owners are back.
Derek / April 10, 2014 at 02:16 am
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The best old school fast food joint in the GTA . They have been around 60 years. Ntm the food is delicious and addictive. I've a regular for 20 years.

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