I 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