Shamrock Burgers is a Scarborough institution that's been kicking it old school since 1970, and has been operated by the same family even earlier still as the Ellesmere Open Kitchen.
Considering the burger joint is pushing 50, it's remarkably well preserved. A re-brand several years ago still looks very current and the compact diner is outfitted with a shiny new backlit menu and vinyl-wrapped ordering counter.
It's the dark veneer fixtures, tabletop Ms. Pacman (still operational btw) and decades worth of team photos from the local burger-sponsored hockey team that give away its age.Those familiar with the younger locations in Whitby and Ajax might be entirely unaware of its OG status.
When Shramock first debuted in the '70s it sold pizza and sundaes too, but has since streamlined the menu to focus on chargrilled specialties (burgers, cheesesteaks, grilled chicken wraps) and foods from the fryer (fries, onion rings, poutines, etc.).
The juicy, flame-licked burgers are, of course, the main attraction and the most basic of which are 4oz ($5.79) and 6oz ($6.79) beef patties.
Toppings are applied to order from an array of freebies that includes all the basics as well as sautĂŠed mushrooms, sautĂŠed onions and crispy fried onions.
The two burgers that amount to the "Executive Chef Signature Series" are more recent menu additions. In keeping up with current trends, the first is a double decker grilled cheese ($12.99) featuring a behemoth 8oz patty with bacon stacked between grilled cheese sandwiches.
Then there's the even more outrageous Canadiana ($12.99). This one also features a thick 8oz patty piled onto a bun with saucy pulled pork, peameal bacon, regular bacon, crispy onions and poutine. It's almost impossible to eat without making a mess.
This list of sides includes classics like Yukon Gold fries ($3.69) and hand-battered onion rings ($3.69) which are also available in the blissful union known as frings ($3.69). There's sweet potato fries ($4.69) and thick milkshakes ($3.75-$4.75) too, but if you're craving a little roughage opt instead for the Greek salad ($4.99).
Overall the food is on-point; fresh and full of char-grilled flavours. The big, overloaded burgers are a novelty I don't intend to relive, but the patties themselves taste great and I'd be very happy to return and do it old school all over again.
Photos by Jesse Milns