Dangerous Dan’s vs. Johnny’s

If you are a Torontonian and have frequented both of these Burger institutions, you may incredulously exclaim that there is no comparison between the two. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, or boats and snakes, or branches and spanks. Well, folks, I am proud to say that I have been to both (and both at Cheesler’s suggestion and insistence) so I can compare the two. And I will!

They are of course very different, but have similar qualities. Let’s examine:

  • Each is independently owned, family run and is one-of-a-kind;
  • Each makes simple burger joint fare;
  • Each is locally famous and has a sort of cult following;
  • Both look pretty dumpy from outside but have delicious food contained inside; and
  • Each has the founder’s name in the name of the restaurant.

That’s where it might end. There are major differences between the two.

For example, Johnny’s is strictly take-out. There’s nowhere to sit except in your car in the parking lot…and no, there are no car-hops on roller skates.  Johnny’s provides simple options, such as “hamburger” or “cheeseburger”, and it’s apparent that they use pre-formed frozen patties (although much tastier than your general fast-food burger). Then you have your “fries” or “onion rings”. And Johnny’s is certainly well-known for being very reasonably priced – you can get a full lunch for about $5. Simple. Done.

Eaten in the car, like any good burger.

I’ve read online testimonials that kind of make Johhny’s sound like the Soup Nazi place in Seinfeld’s New York. There is a particular way to order and perform your transaction, and if you don’t conform, you face the wrath of the grumpy employee behind the cash register. For example, you are expected to know what you want before you step up to order. No standing at the front of the line gawking at the menu board, otherwise they will actually call to the next person in line and you will be skipped. You take your number, then sit on what looks like an old gym bench and wait patiently (not long, mind you) until your number is called, at which point you step up to the topping station and name your toppings to the person putting your burger together. Don’t ask for lettuce, they don’t have it – but peculiarly, they won’t admit to not having it. They’ll only say “no lettuce today”. I read a review in which when the employee was asked whether they would have lettuce tomorrow or the next day, all that was given was a blank stare.

Mmmm, rings of onions

I’ve heard that the owner has been repeatedly approached by developers over the decades to sell the property, but he refuses, and the outcome is vacant lots and chain-link fences surrounding the restaurant, its bright orange sign a beacon to lunchgoers and partiers on their way home from the bar.

An inviting place

I realize this sounds like an awful place, and why would one go there? Well, my friends, the results of the strange process is a huge juicy burger, grilled to perfection with that nostalgic charcoal flavour. It is plated endearingly in a little cardboard box, which makes it easy to eat your meal off the hood of your car outside. Plus, Mike Myers endorses it as his favourite burger joint…heck, if it’s good enough for Mike, it’s good enough for me.

Sophies tend to display territorial behaviour when feeding

Now, onto Dangerous Dan’s

Dan’s has a seating area inside where you can relax on an old car seat at a table whilst eating your giant burger – but it’s a little different than most sit-down restaurants – you order and pay as you come in, then you sit down and they bring your food to you. Dan’s also has wild and crazy options for burgers that will get your photo on the “wall of gluttons”. For example, the Quadruple C: “Collosal Colon Clogger Combo”, which consists of a 24oz burger served with a quarter pound of cheese, a quarter pound of bacon, and 2 fried eggs.  Also comes with a large shake and a small poutine, and it will set you back $24.50. You could upgrade to a Royale Option which will get you a Deep Fried Mars Bar with Whipped Cream to top off your dinner.

A look of utter delight on his face

If you’re looking for more of a fine-dining experience, you could opt for the “McEwan”, a 10oz NY steak freshly ground into a hamburger patty, mixed with beer, shitake and oyster mushrooms, camembert and brie cheese and 4oz pan fried Lobster Tail drizzled with clarified butter. Comes with Hand-made fries and a large milk shake, only $38.95. I suspect from the  hoity-toitey ingredients that the name is a sort of sarcastic homage to Toronto’s Mark McEwan, a world-famous celebrity chef with several very successful restaurants and a show on the Food Network. I think it’s hilarious!

"I shall have the Quadruple C. And for the lady, the petite 8 oz homeburger"

Will he continue?


If you’re looking for something more reasonable on your wallet, you could try the Bronto Ribs Dinner for $16.45 or the Bulls Balls Burger for $15.25. Or, if you are in the unfortunate position of being a vegetarian at this holy meat palace, you could try one of the “Tree-Hugger” Burgers, two of which, interestingly enough, have the option of bacon or peameal bacon.

Cheesler, defeated by meat.

Regardless of which place you choose or what menu item you order, I recommend breaking out your stretchy pants in advance. You will need them.

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Categories: Food

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2 Comments on “Dangerous Dan’s vs. Johnny’s”

  1. marilyn
    December 2, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    The caption says “cheesler defeated by meat” and yet his plate looks like it only contains a few left over fries.

    • December 2, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

      won the battle, lost the war. ie: horrific pain about an hour afterwards

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