Tom's Dairy Freeze
Tom's Dairy Freeze opened in 1969 and hasn't changed very much at all since then. Tom's has that late-night drive-in feel; parking spots all around, picnic tables with blue umbrellas, and a low front window from which to place your order. And your order, for that matter, will likely elicit a little nostalgia itself.
You can opt for one of Tom's homemade burgers ($3.30) with freshly cut fries ($2.25), a milkshake in one of countless available flavours ($3.25), or go for the favourite--a soft serve cone in vanilla, chocolate, or vanilla/chocolate swirl ($2.15).
Guido DePiazza tells me he and his brother now run the shop on The Queensway in Etobicoke, which has been in his family for decades. The family bought the business from the original owner about five or six years after it first opened.
"We've kept things pretty much the same over the years," Guido tells me. "Our soft serve is still made with real cream. A lot of other places do ice milk and that sort of thing, but we've stuck with this."
A recent addition to the menu is soft serve frozen yogurt ($2.85), which Tom's got a few months ago. The other big change was the addition of hard Maypole ice cream 10 years ago.
But Tom's still gets regular shipments of potatoes from "Pino the farmer," Guido says, which it uses to make its freshly cut fries. "We make the steaks, the souvlaki, everything here," he adds.
Weekends are apparently the time when Tom's customers are out in full force, lining up at the counter window and listing to spinning by Guido's DJ friends. Luckily, when I stop by there's barely a line, so I decide to indulge in one of my favourite combinations: fries dipped in ice cream. No, I'm not pregnant, and yes, it's actually hugely satisfying.
I put in my order and wait at a picnic table near the receiving window for my fries to be prepared. That's where a man devouring some onion rings starts up a conversation. "You know," he says. "I was one of those people who was coming here way back in 1969."
I ask him how the modern Tom's compares to Tom's back in the day. "The ice cream is just as good," he says. "And the food, actually, is better than it was."
Of course, I can't vouch for the 1969 cone, but mine this day was swirled high and surprisingly thick. Perhaps I've gotten too used to the dairy-like soft serve of downtown ice cream trucks, because this cone was distinct with a rich, creamy taste. The fries--cut a typical size, golden brown, and fresh as ever--served as a perfect complement. And by "complement," I of course mean "spoon." Wonder if that, too, can be traced back to 1969.
Tom's Dairy Freeze is open from March to November, 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. seven days a week.